Do You Have A Sexy Snatch?

Artemis Snatch Green

Once upon a time I went to Mark Fisher Fitness (which is like Disney meets Charlie and The Chocolate Factory but with a bunch of beautiful, sexy, fit, people) and sat down in the Snatchery with the MFF Personal Training staff to discuss pull-ups, pressing, unicorns, and how to make your snatch sexy.

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Sexy people must have sexy snatches.  This is a no brainer.

Now, for those of you who understand kettlebell snatch humor, you understand when I ask, “Do You Have a Sexy Snatch?” because snatches are sexy.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, your mind is probably still in the gutter, “Snatch? What??” :)

Yes, everyone likes to joke about the snatch.

In the world of Kettlebell Training, the Kettlebell Snatch is considered the “Tsar” of kettlebell lifts.  It is a fantastic movement for total body conditioning and for learning force production.  Those who know the kettlebell snatch, and can execute the snatch well, LOVE the snatch.

Before you learn the kettlebell snatch you want to make sure that you master the kettlebell swing, both two handed and one handed, and the kettlebell clean first.  I will teach the following kettlebell lifts, in the following order before teaching the snatch:

  • Kettlebell Two Handed Swing
  • Kettlebell One Handed Swing
  • Kettlebell Hand to Hand Swings
  • Kettlebell Clean
  • Kettlebell High Pull
  • Kettlebell Snatch

I go into this in more detail in my post Improve Your Double Kettlebell Snatch and I provide a training drill that you can apply to both single and double kettlebell snatches in order to improve your kettlebell snatch.

When people are learning the snatch, often they can struggle with the movement and beat their arms and hands up in the process.  In these cases, it can look ugly, sloppy, and scary to watch.  It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t feel good.

The Sexy Snatch

A sexy snatch has a balance of a clean, powerful hip finish, (timed with the exhale of the breath), that causes the bell to float up, while the arm helps to execute the finish of the snatch by “punching” the bell straight up into the finish position of the snatch like you are punching the ceiling.

A sexy snatch will not only tame the arc of the snatch on the way up by “punching” the ceiling, but it will also tame the arc on the way down with a drop straight down to the floor, through the legs, while the kettlebell slides gently in the hand, from the hook of the fingers to the finish position in the heel of the hand, back to the hook of the fingers on the drop and the back swing.

The Scary Snatch

The scary snatch will not tame the arc of the kettlebell on the way up, so it will swing out in front of the person in a big arc and slam on the person’s forearm while the person applies a vulcan death grip (yes, I know this does not translate exactly, but this is what I call it :) ) to the kettlebell only to cause the iron handle of the kettlebell to grate on the person’s skin and calluses therefore risking a hand tear.Vulcannervepinch

Often in the case of a scary snatch you will also see the upper body leading the movement and doing more of the work rather than the hips leading the movement.

In this case, often the timing of the breath and the hip finish is completely off and the person will hold their breath until the kettlebell lands in the finish position of the snatch, when they will exhale while thinking, “Oh yes, I forgot to breath so I should probably breath now…”.

On the descent of the scary snatch, the person will cast the kettlebell out in front of them, while still holding onto the kettlebell with a vulcan death grip, which on the eccentric of the snatch will cause a worse grating on the hands than on the way up.

Below are 10 tips that help you to ensure that you have a sexy snatch, not a scary one…

  1. Master The Kettlebell Swing And Clean, And Use The High-pull As A teaching tool.
    • As I mentioned earlier in this post, it’s imperative that you master the kettlebell swing, two and one hand, and the kettlebell clean, before you start to learn the kettlebell snatch.  The more time you take to master these movements, the easier it will be to learn the kettlebell snatch.
    • After you master these movements then you will have the confidence, strength, and skill to begin to learn the kettlebell snatch.  The kettlebell high-pull is a great teaching tool for the kettlebell snatch, and intermediary movement to practice on its own, before venturing into sexy snatch territory.  I provide some guidance as to how to incorporate the high pull into training drills in my post Improve Your Double Kettlebell Snatch.  You can replace the kettlebell snatch with the kettlebell clean in the drills that I describe in that post, until you are ready to add in the snatch.
  2. Hook Grip.  You should use a loose, hook grip, not a vulcan death grip, with the kettlebell snatch, as with the kettlebell clean, and sometimes the one-arm swing. When it comes to kettlebell training, a good rule of thumb is to use a loose hook grip with kettlebell ballistics, and a death grip (“make the bell bleed” I say) with kettlebell grinds such as the kettlebell press.  With the hook grip, the kettlebell will sit in the hook of your second knuckles on the back swing then it can slide easily down your hand to land and sit snugly in the heel of your hand on the finish of the snatch.  On the descent of the snatch, the kettlebell should transition back into the hook grip on the drop.  You will know that you are using a hook grip regularly if you have calluses across the inside of your fingers on your second knuckles.
  3. Hip Power.  The kettlebell needs to go higher than it does with a swing so you need to generate more hip power to get it to the finish position.  Yes, your upper body is doing some work by applying force on the back swing and by controlling the kettlebell on the way up by breaking or taming the arc, but your hips are doing the majority of the work.  Which leads me to my next point…
  4. Lead With Your Hips.  As you return from the back swing, keep your arm tight to your torso and do not release it until you finish your hips so that your arm and the bell float up as a result of your hip power.
  5. Punch The Ceiling.  As your hips finish you need to tame the arc, or break the arc of the kettlebell.  I say “break the arc” because if you take video of yourself snatching correctly and then watch it in slow motion, you will see that as you punch the ceiling, you will bend your elbow to cut the arc short and break it before punching the ceiling to the finish position of the snatch.
  6. Timing Of The Breath.  Exhale when your hips finish not when the kettlebell lands in the finish position.  If you wait until when the kettlebell lands in the finish position to exhale, then you have been holding your breath through the whole movement and you are not letting that breath help you to groove through the movement.  You will find that you have a much smoother, (and sexier :) ) snatch when you exhale as your hips finish.  Your hips will finish and you will exhale, then the kettlebell will float up as you finish your exhale and then it will land softly in the finish position; or at least it should.
  7. Pause At The Top.  Relish in your hard work and enjoy that brief moment of the finish of the snatch, when your hips finish, the kettlebell lands softly and smoothly (yes, it IS possible), and your shoulder settles into the correct place.
  8. The “Drop” On The Way Down.  When you bring the kettlebell back down from the finish of the snatch to go into the back swing for the next repetition, don’t cast the kettlebell out in a big arc.  Instead, drop the kettlebell straight down to the floor and then apply a solid backswing.  My friend and colleague Coach Steve Holiner from Mark Fisher Fitness says, “Punch the floor.”
  9. Breathe Behind The Brace.  Use your power breath to brace on the way up AND brace on the way down during the eccentric. Don’t forget to breathe behind the brace by using your power breath and exhaling when your hips finish (see #6).
  10. Swing, High Pull, Snatch Chains Are Great For Snatch Practice.  Use the high-pull as a learning/practice tool and practice swing, high-pull, snatch chains to improve your kettlebell snatch.  Refer to my post “Improve Your Double Kettlebell Snatch” for detail on how to incorporate these movements.

No go off and make your snatch sexy!

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Join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift!

Coming to Columbus, Ohio on March 21, 2015 and Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 18, 2015.

Early bird rate of $199.00 available through February 21, 2015 for Ohio and through March 7, 2015 for New Mexico.

Read more and register HERE.

Working towards a goal of a pull-up? Sign up for my Attack The Bar Pull-up Program on WeightTraining.com; Level I and Level II currently available or train with me ONLINE through WeightTraining.com HERE.  Both one-on-one and group available.

Learn more HERE.

Next Iron Body Restore online nutrition group starts February 1, 2015.

Learn more HERE.

Own Your Fitness and Nutrition in 2015

If you set some fitness and nutrition goals as you rang in the New Year and you have not started to work towards them yet, have no fear, it’s never to late.  Don’t throw in the towel because on January 2 you didn’t wake up at 5 a.m., churn out a shake in your spankin’ new Vitamix, get to the gym, and have vegetables at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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You don’t need a New Year to set these goals.  You can set goals at ANY time of the year and start working towards them.

Below are some questions to think about as you evaluate your progress towards these goals… and if you have not set any yet but still want to, then DO IT NOW.

  • Are you happy with your progress thus far?
  • Are there any changes that you need to make to your plan?
  • Are there any additional tracking tools that you need to use?
  • Are there any additional resources that you need to tap into in order to ensure that you stay in line with your goals?

I believe that no matter what level of fitness you are at or even if you are relatively happy with your diet, that you should always have a fitness goal, AND every once in a while re-evaluate your diet choices and perhaps make adjustments if necessary. Goals keep us focused on a consistent routine and even the smallest diet changes can make a difference. (Read more in Small Changes=Significant Results).

Here are 16 Nutrition, Exercise, and most important, MINDSET, tips that can help you to prioritize and OWN  your fitness and nutrition goals for this year:

NUTRITION

  • Keep a food diary.  Write absolutely every little thing down that you eat even if it’s embarrassing like a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream or a jumbo/Halloween size bag of M&M’s (yes I once had a client confess to eating this size bag of M&M’s at work because she was stressed). Also write down how you FEEL after eating certain foods.  If you eat yogurt and feel bloated and lethargic, then write that down.  If you eat steak and broccoli and feel satiated and NOT bloated then write that down. Which leads me to my next point…
  • Find a diet that works for YOU.  Just because your best friend is vegan does not necessarily mean that going vegan is right for your body type.  You may be fueled best by a more animal protein and healthy fats (e.g. avocadoes, coconut oil) based diet.  A good way to determine what works best for you is:
    1. Identify what body type you are (read THIS ARTICLE by Precision Nutrition for more information about body type eating); and
    2. Trial and error. Keep track of what you eat and how you feel when you eat these foods. (See previous point, keep a food journal).

Finding the diet that is right for you is an evolving process, so it’s good to re-evaluate your diet every 6-12 months to make sure it’s working for you the way that it should and make changes every if necessary.  For example, in 2012 I eliminated processed grains from my diet, decreased my dairy intake and replaced these things with more vegetables (e.g. raw spinach), fruit, animal protein and healthy fats.  Most recently in 2014 I completely eliminated legumes, which included curbing my hummus consumption, and cutting out food bars and protein shakes that contain legumes e.g. pea protein.  Now instead of protein powder I will add Maca powder and Goji or Acai powder and flax seed along with everything else I put in the shake.  I also cut back even more on cheese and added more protein in my diet earlier in the day, e.g. 3 eggs before noon along with ham or roast beef instead of just two eggs.  The one extra egg made a huge difference for me!

  • Go grocery shopping and prepare all of your own meals. YES, have control over what you are eating! This is the only way.
  • Prepare meals in advance. Whatever works for you, e.g. some people prepare meals at the beginning of the week for the whole week. Others take extra time daily in the morning or the evening in order to prepare their foods for that day or the next day. You need to find what works for you.
  • Start your day with a glass of water.  Drink one to two glasses of room temperature water right after you wake up, before you have coffee or breakfast.  This will help you to:
    1. Start your day off hydrated.  Room temperature water is more easily absorbed by the body; and
    2. Get your digestive system off to a good start.  Room temperature water aids in digestion and an optimally running digestive system is one of the keys to good nutrition!

If you’re really hardcore you can add a shot of Aloe Juice to that morning hydration routine.  I recently started to have Aloe Juice along with my glass of room temperature water in the morning before I have my coffee.  Aloe juice promotes digestive health.  It has an odd taste, a little acidic, but it goes down quickly and it definitely helps to maintain digestive homeostasis!

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  • Follow the 80/2o or 90/10 Rule.  When it comes to nutrition, follow the 80/20 or 90/10 rule which means that 80-90% of the time you are eating according to plan and sticking to grocery shopping and preparing all of your own meals and 10-20% of the time you allow yourself to go out to dinner, have a beer or a few glasses of wine, have dessert or chocolate and indulge in things that you would not regularly eat.  Allow yourself this flexibility so that you do not feel deprived and maintain a sustainable approach to nutrition.

EXERCISE

  • Schedule your training like it’s an appointment that you cannot cancel. Whether you are going to meet your trainer or train on your own, schedule your training like an appointment and do not let anything interfere with it.  If you don’t schedule it in then you will never get to it and you are not likely to stay consistent. This is what I do and how I ensure that I am able to make time to train on a daily basis.
  • Keep a training journal. Keep track of your workouts and your progress. Even write down how you felt that day especially if you felt tired and weak. It will help you to evaluate if you are overtraining, not eating properly, stressed or not getting enough sleep. I always write down how I feel especially if I had a particularly strong or weak and tired training day.
  • Challenge yourself in the weight room.  Get out of your comfort zone in the weight room. Do things, or train to do things that you never thought you might do, like a pull-up or dead-lift more than your bodyweight. Do something that challenges you, be successful at it and in turn you will be empowered and motivated to do the next thing that is out of your comfort zone.
  • Get strong.  Along with challenging yourself in the weight room, do not be afraid to get strong to achieve these challenging goals. Being strong makes everything better. Be Xena, not Edna, and love your muscles, being strong and confident with your strength.
  • Hire a Personal Trainer.  At a loss for where to start? Then HIRE A PERSONAL TRAINER. Good personal training and guidance is invaluable.  A good personal trainer should be able to not only implement an effective training program for you but should also be able to help you with your nutrition goals.  Investing in regular personal training is investing in your short AND long-term health.  Think you can’t afford it? Explore ALL of your options and find training that fits your personality and your budget.  There are many options out there from One-on-One Training, to Small Group Training, to Online Training (both group and one-on-one) and even Classes!  We offer ALL of these services at Iron Body Studios, including Online Nutrition Coaching, because we want to make sure that there is something available for everyone.

MINDSET

  • Own IT!  Just as I tell my clients in the weight room, to OWN IT!  OWN that pull-up!  OWN that press!  OWN your fitness and nutrition.  Own your eating and exercise routine.  The more you act like you own it, the more you will actually indeed own it and have control and the more success you will have.
  • Focus on how you feel, not metrics or the number on the scale.  Throw out your scale. Instead, focus on how you feel, e.g. Are you less bloated?  Do you feel satisfying full after you eat?  Do you have more energy?  Do your clothes fit better?  Do you need to go shopping for new clothes?  Are you accomplishing great things in the weight room?  Do loads that you lift outside of the weight room feel lighter?  Are you sleeping better?  When you are obsessed mentally on the number on the scale or if a particular body part doesn’t look the way you’d like it to, it causes stress and stress wreaks havoc on the insides and prevents you from reaching your goals and then setting new ones.  Instead, focus on what you can do and how you feel and not on how you look or how much you weigh.
  • Make sleep a priority and manage your stress.  Rest, recovery and SLEEP is extremely important for weight loss and to build strength.  Your body needs to recover and rebuild from all the stress, mental and physical, that you put it under and it cannot do that unless you get enough sleep, rest, recover and take time to tune out.  Along with that managing your stress is huge.  We all have a full plate, but it’s how you react to stress that helps you to manage it.
  • Anticipate obstacles, have strategies.  You will encounter obstacles.  You will fall out of your routine.  Expect this and don’t freak out.  It’s OK.  This goes back to managing stress.  How will you manage them?  Accept the obstacle, let it go and MOVE FORWARD!  Do not let the obstacles be a reason to give up, e.g. a missed training session, eating a piece of cake (80/20 rule!).  Look forward to tomorrow.  Train tomorrow.  Do not eat cake tomorrow.
  • Make your fitness and nutrition a PRIORITY.  It’s all about priorities!  Often people will say, “I don’t have time to exercise”,  “I don’t have time to prepare my meals”, “I don’t have the money for personal training, sign up for a class, or join a gym”.  If you prioritize these things YOU WILL have both time and money for them.  For example, I heard recently on a local news radio that if you made the make the financial resolution to not spend $4/day on coffee (Starbucks or otherwise) you could save $1,000/year!  If fitness is a priority for you in 2015, instead you could invest that $4/day on your health and fitness and sign up for 4 classes/month with Iron Body Studios for $75/month ($2.50/day), for example, and STILL have $8/month leftover to save or to buy two Starbucks coffee’s per month.  So you may need to re-evaluate how you spend your money in order to financially prioritize your fitness and nutrition, but it IS possible and is IS worth preserving the ONE and ONLY body that you were born with. If it’s that important to you, you will find a way, if it’s not, then you will find an excuse.

Stay on task and good luck!

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Join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift!

Coming to Columbus, Ohio on March 21, 2015 and Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 18, 2015.

Early bird rate of $199.00 available through February 21, 2015 for Ohio and through March 7, 2015 for New Mexico.

Read more and register HERE.

Working towards a goal of a pull-up? Sign up for my Attack The Bar Pull-up Program on WeightTraining.com; Level I and Level II currently available or train with me ONLINE through WeightTraining.com HERE.  Both one-on-one and group available.

Learn more HERE.

Next Iron Body Restore online nutrition group starts February 1, 2015.

Learn more HERE.

Goodbye 2014 Hello 2015!

Happy New Year Everyone!

If you have a blog on WordPress.com, at the end of every year WordPress.com puts together an annual report summary of your blog posts for the year.  Shoulders Are The New Cleavage Revisited was my most popular blog post in 2014 with 1,825 views on the day it was published.  Based upon that number, it is still second runner up to my 2013 blog post Unsexy Training Methods Produce Sexy Results that had 2,988 views on the day that it was published.

Overall my blog Iron Body By Artemis was viewed 55,000 in 2014 which is more than two times the amount it was viewed in 2013 – which is about a 60% increase in readers!  This is what WordPress.com said about it:

“The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 55,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 20 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.”

Both insane and  awesome if you ask me!   THANK YOU to all the readers who helped to increase the number of readers for Iron Body By Artemis.

In addition to Shoulders Are the New Cleavage Revisited and Unsexy Training Methods Produce Sexy Results, other favorite posts were:

Just Eat

Strength Goals Trump the Scale

How to Progress the Ab Wheel Rollout from Kneeling to Standing

Unsexy Training Methods Take Manhattan: I Am Not Afraid To Lift Weights

Are You Mentally Tough?

The Day I Stopped Running

2014 was a significant year for me both personally and professionally.

Personally, I completed my goal of the Iron Maiden Challenge

Some of you are probably SO sick of hearing about this, but even though it took me less than 7 minutes to complete, it was a three year journey within which I learned a tremendous amount about myself, about perseverance, and about strength training.  As a result, not only did I build great strength through the process, and learn life long lessons, but it also helped me to grow as a coach.  By training for this goal I acquired experience and knowledge that has made me a better and more knowledgeable lifter and coach and better equipped to help others on the same or similar path towards a strength goal.

Beyond the Iron Maiden Challenge, I continued to learn that strength is limitless.  Just when I thought I may have reached my max for strength for someone my size, with proper, safe training, I continued on to build more strength and surprised myself with a 28kg (62 lbs) pistol squat, a 26kg (57 lbs) weighted pull-up, a 30kg (66 lbs) Turkish Get-up, and a 245 lbs Dead-Lift.  I very much look forward to continuing to train for and achieving my current goals of all three Iron Maiden lifts with 28kg, a 32kg (70lbs) get-up, and a 275 dead-lift.

Strength is truly a journey, not a destination.  Just when you think something seems impossible or out of reach, (which is how I felt about that 24kg (53lbs) press for the Iron Maiden Challenge for a LONG TIME and now I can STILL press that weight, even post Iron Maiden! #StrengthThatSticks), remain steadfast and persevere because you WILL reach your goal(s).

In addition to completing the Iron Maiden Challenge I launched my I Am Not Afraid To Lift strength workshop series, became a ReebokONE Fitness Ambassador, and throughout the year was honored to learn that my writing and coaching was starting to be recognized by well known coaches such as Tony Gentilcore and THE source for personal trainers, The Personal Trainer Development Center with some of my blog posts repeatedly making their Top Fitness Articles of The Week.

Beyond my personal accomplishments, 2014 was a great year for Iron Body Studios.  We celebrated our three years in business anniversary and a year and a half in our current facility.  We launched our Online Training Platform through WeightTraining.com, created our Kettlebells Fundamentals Workshop, and started to build some truly amazing business relationships with stellar businesses including but not limited to Drive495Mark Fisher Fitness, Results Driven Fitness, Pharaoh’s Army FitnessCatalyst S.P.O.R.T., and NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT). Below are some highlights from 2014.

January 2014

We attended the Original Strength Workshop.  Original strength has greatly influenced how we train our clients.  As a result we have incorporated it into all of our programs for classes, small group training, one-on-one training, and online training.

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While we were in New York City that weekend, we spent some quality time with my brother and celebrated my 38th birthday with my brother, and our friend and colleague Ari Harris of Pharaoh’s Army Fitness and his girlfriend Maria.

We launched our Iron Body Restore Online Nutrition Coaching Program.

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There is still time to register for our New Year 2015 Nutrition Jump Start with Iron Body Restore!  The 28-day program starts January 5, 2015.  Deadline to register is January 2, 2015.  Register HERE (Click on the “Online Store” tab, select “Services”, select “Nutritional Coaching” from the drop-down menu, and then select “Iron Body Restore”).  Read testimonials HERE.

We also launched our Iron Body Shred Small Group Training Program.  Its programming and required consistency has produced incredible results for our clients!

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Read more and HERE.

Read testimonials and success stories HERE and HERE.

February 2014

We partnered with Achieve Fitness in Boston and launched The Female Fitness Formula Workshop.

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At that workshop, I gave Xena a whole new meaning and #BeXena not Edna was created.

March 2014

We hosted a StrongFirst Bodyweight Course led by Master StrongFirst Instructor Karen Smith.

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April 2014

I presented Unsexy Training Methods Produces Sexy Results to the personal training staff at Crunch Fitness 34th Street in New York, NY.

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While I was in New York City I had the opportunity to swing by Pharaoh’s Army Fitness and visit Coach Ari Harris and spent some quality time with my brother, my friends and colleagues Kathy Dooley and Steve Holiner (a.k.a “Coach Fury”).

May 2014

Eric and I attended an Indian Clubs Workshop with Dr. Ed Thomas… another opportunity for an experience of combined learning and shenanigans with colleagues and friends.

June 2014

We hosted a NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT) Level I seminar with the incredible Kathy Dooley!

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Kathy is my friend, colleague, and distance coaching client.  At that seminar she put me on the spot and tested my mental toughness by asking me to press 22kg (49lbs) in front of a large group of strangers!  Proof that not only do students learn from their coaches, but coaches also learn from their students.

We presented our second Female Fitness Formula Workshop at the Optimum Performance Training Institute in Columbia, MD.

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July 2014

We hosted a NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT) Level II seminar with Kathy Dooley.

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Eric and I assisted at a StrongFirst Level I Instructor Certification in New York City where both my brother, Leonidas and one of our Iron Body Studios’ class clients, Tracy Robbins, passed their StrongFirst Level I Kettlebell Instructor Certification.

I also completed the Iron Maiden Challenge that weekend…

September 2014

I launched my strength workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift at Drive495 in New York City.

#LiftNYC

Next Lift workshops are scheduled for March 21, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio, and April 18, 2015 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Special Holiday pricing of $179.00 for both workshops ends tomorrow, December 31, 2014.

Learn more, including testimonials, HERE.

Register HERE under Events.

October 2014

I taught a workshop to the incredibly bright and talented training staff at the amazing Mark Fisher Fitness!

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While I was there, Brian Patrick Murphy, Co-Owner of Mark Fisher Fitness asked me if I would be willing to record a podcast with him for MFF Best of Life Radio.  We talked about my Lift WorkshopXena, empowering women through strength, the Iron Maiden ChallengeIron Body Studios, a recent Facebook rant I had about how some people are always looking for a bargain or a discount, making your health and fitness a PRIORITY, my business and personal life with Eric, and on being HUMAN!  You can listen to this podcast here in Episode 9 of MFF Best of Life Radio –> http://bit.ly/1oxxiFa

In October, I also officially accepted my invitation from June, from Reebok to become a ReebokONE Fitness Ambassador.

Reebok HQ, Canton, MA

Reebok HQ, Canton, MA

I am thrilled to be a part of the ReebokONE team and I’m excited to see what 2015 brings with this new venture!

In October we also launched our Online Training Platform through WeightTraining.com.

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We offer one-on-one and group online training, as well as specific programs to help you reach your goals like my Attack The Bar Pull-up Program.

Learn more HERE.

Sign up HERE.

November 2014

I presented my second I Am Not Afraid To Lift Workshop on my home turf at Iron Body Studios!

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Please join me for either #LiftOhio on March 21, 2015 or for #LiftNewMexico on April 18, 2015!  Register HERE.

There were so many amazing moments at #LiftBoston that it was hard to capture all of them into a short video, but here are a few…

We had the pleasure of hosting a strong and vibrant group from Results Driven Fitness for a mini two-hour workshop.

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Also in November we had our Fourth Annual Turkey Swing, which is always a blast!

Turkey Swing 2014

Here are some video highlights…

December 2013

We launched Iron Body Studios’ Kettlebell Fundamentals Workshop at NY Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy.

While we were in New York City, we spend time with my brother, my aunt and my cousin, and visited our friends at Catalyst S.P.O.R.T. and Mark Fisher Fitness.  We always have such a warm welcome in NYC and love visiting that city!

Clearly we have been very busy in 2014 and I am excited to see what 2015 has in store for both Iron Body Studios and Iron Body By Artemis.

As I mentioned, we have many more exciting events coming up in 2015 such as my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift on March 21, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio and in Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 18, 2015.

We will also be hosting NKT Level I at Iron Body Studios on April 11, 2015 and NKT Level II at Iron Body Studios on June 13, 2015.

In addition, I am launching a Women’s Strength Class at Iron Body Studios that starts this Saturday January 3, 2015 and will meet every Saturday at 8:30 a.m.  Class is filling up quickly and I’m very excited to have the women of Iron Body Studios come together and train as a group on Saturday mornings.  If you’re thinking about it, don’t hesitate to register because space is limited!

Women's Strength 245lbs DL

Register HERE.

We also have a large group forming to train with us for the StrongFirst Level I Certification that will be here in Boston in August 2015.  If you would like to join our Kettlebell Instructor Small Group Training Prep then please complete the contact form below and we will provide you with information on updates as to when this small group training instructor prep will start, what it will entail, and the cost.

Iron Body Studios had positive growth in 2014 but there is still a lot of work to be done for both Iron Body Studios and Iron Body By Artemis.  Iron Body By Artemis and Iron Body Studios could not have had this growth without the support from all of YOU, our readers, our clients, our fans, our Iron Body Family.

So THANK YOU for all of your support.

I look forward to continued growth and success in 2015 and to hearing how everyone’s training is going and what goals you have planned or have reached.

See all of you in 2015, may it be a STRONG and positive year for all of us!

~Artemis

Comfortable Carryover and the 245 lbs Dead-lift

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Occasionally I’ve heard some coaches in the fitness industry say, “You can’t get strong from only training with kettlebells” or “Kettlebells are a waste of time”. Even Andy Bolton, powerlifter and first man to dead-lift over 1,000 lbs admitted that he once thought, that as a powerlifter, kettlebells were a waste of time until he met Pavel Tsatsouline and learned how kettlebells could augment his powerlifting and help him to train for a bigger dead-lift. Read more HERE

Fortunately I hear this less and less nowadays and these thoughts are not as prevalent in the fitness industry. Instead you see more written about the benefits of kettlebell training and how you can indeed build great strength by training only with kettlebells, when trained correctly and by applying hardstyle techniques.

The Kettlebell Swing Builds A Stronger Dead-lift

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Kettlebells, in general, allow you to train with the lowest system load for maximal results.

Let’s take the kettlebell swing for example.

In the picture above and video below Eric and I are demonstrating an overspeed eccentric with the kettlebell swing at our Kettlebell Fundamentals workshop at NY Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy on December 6, 2014 in New York City.

The overspeed eccentric helps to teach how to apply force on the back swing of the kettlebell swing.  The more force applied to the kettlebell on the backswing, the heavier the kettlebell will weigh (physics, right?) and the harder your hips have to work to bring the bell back on the finish of the swing.

How does this translate to a stronger dead-lift?

The purpose of the kettlebell swing is maximal force production. Therefore, if the correct force is applied to an 8kg (~18lbs) kettlebell on the back swing, that 8kg kettlebell can weigh up to 80lbs. If an 8kg kettlebell can weigh up to 80lbs with the correct force applied, imagine how much a 24kg (~53lbs) kettlebell can weigh if the correct force is applied?? Subsequently, the kettlebell swing can help to improve dead-lift strength because it allows you to use the lowest system load for maximal results. In addition, the kettlebell swing helps to build a stronger low back, glutes, hamstrings, and improve grip strength. All very important if you are working towards a stronger, and heavier dead-lift.

Don’t believe me? 

Since I started my business Iron Body Studios over three years ago, in September 2011, I have been solely focused on kettlebell training.  Therefore it has been about three years since I trained with barbells.

Which means that, 1) I only trained with kettlebells to build enough strength to complete the Iron Maiden Challenge…

and 2) For dead-lift strength I have only been training kettlebell swings, (with weights ranging from 18kg (40lbs) to 20kg (44lbs) for one arm swings and 24kg (53lbs) to 36kg (70lbs) two handed and double kettlebell), and kettlebell dead-lifts. The most that I have dead-lifted are double 48kg (212 lbs) kettlebells.  Even though I can dead-lift this weight for sets of 5 repetitions, instead I would dead-lift 48kg once per week for 5 sets of 2 repetitions, 10 repetitions total. One other day during the week I would dead-lift double 44kg (193 lbs) for 3 sets of 3 repetitions, 9 repetitions total.

About three weeks ago Eric and I decided it was time to purchase a barbell for the gym.  Since the barbell arrived I have been getting re-acclimated to the barbell and most specifically barbell dead-lifts.  Even though a 212 lbs kettlebell dead-lift had become very manageable for me, 185 lbs with the barbell felt surprisingly heavy as I was getting used to the barbell again!

I have incorporated barbell dead-lifts back into my training for exactly two weeks since the barbell arrived. This week is my third week back to training them again and my goal has been to determine what my current max dead-lift is. After only one week of training barbell dead-lifts, I felt comfortable enough to test a 225 lbs dead-lift. I was surprised at how easy the weight went up.

225 lbs Barbell Dead-lift

Based upon how manageable this weight felt, this week, as I entered week three of training barbell dead-lifts again for the first time in three years, I decided to test out 245 lbs which is two times my bodyweight of 117 lbs plus 10 lbs.

Success.

245 lbs Barbell Dead-lift

The lift was hard and the weight was heavy, which you can tell by the expression on my face as I work through the lift, but I felt good about the lift overall. In addition, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly kettlebell training carries over to other strength training techniques and non-kettlebell lifts.

My current next goal weight is 275 lbs HOWEVER, I’m comfortable to call this my max for now as I work on improving technique through practice and building more strength. If you watch the video closely you can see how I lose tension in my back at two points during the lift, which means 1) I need to build strength and incorporate some horizontal rows into my training like kettlebell or TRX batwing rows and 2) I need more practice.

When trained correctly by applying hardstyle techniques, the kettlebell swing and kettlebells in general will build tremendous strength!!

**********

Ohio Windmill Boston Group

Join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift!

Coming to Columbus, Ohio on March 21, 2015 and Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 18, 2015.

Read more and register HERE.

Working towards a goal of a pull-up? Sign up for my Attack The Bar Pull-up Program on WeightTraining.com; Level I and Level II currently available or train with me ONLINE through WeightTraining.com HERE.  Both one-on-one and group available.

Learn more HERE.

The Turkish Get-up: No Hands?? NO PROBLEM!

Last weekend Eric and I traveled to New York City to teach a Kettlebell Fundamentals Workshop at New York Sports Medicine (NYSM) and Physical Therapy.

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 Tony Forza, Me, Luke Bongiorno, Leonidas Scantalides, Eric Gahan

We taught the kettlebell dead-lift, kettlebell swing, goblet squat, and Turkish get-up to a mixed group of Physical Therapists, NYSM patients, and even some non-clinicians outside of NYSM such as my Aunt Paula and Cousin Madeleine and Iron Body Studios’ WeightTraining.com online training clients.

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It was so unique to have physical therapists, patients, and non-clinicians together in the same room learning together.  Everyone seemed to benefit in a different, yet equally positive way. Physical therapists learned how they could apply the kettlebell as a tool and the movements we taught within the rehabilitation setting and to help bridge the gap for their patients from rehab to training. Patients learned how they could ease themselves back into training safely, and effectively again without fear of injury. Non-clinicians, and non-patients learned how they could enhance their exercise routine with kettlebell training.

It was amazing to see the group’s transformation and excitement build over the course of the four-hour workshop.

While we were in New York City we had a full schedule of visiting colleagues, friends, clients, and family, from spending the weekend with my brother…

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To lunch with my Aunt and Cousin…

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To visiting our friends at Mark Fisher Fitness…

IMG_0769Me, Matt Wilson, Eric Gahan, Brian Patrick Murphy, Leonidas Scantalides 

I even had the opportunity to stop by Catalyst S.P.O.R.T to train my distance coaching client (and friend and colleague) Kathy Dooley, and see her very own brand new facility for the first time!

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When I met with Kathy I taught her the double kettlebell or no hands Turkish get-up. This is an advanced variation of the get-up that is typically used in the Armed Forces to help military people learn how to get up without hands while carrying artillery overhead, while also having the ability to keep their eyes on the enemy and/or have the ability to keep their awareness and watch for danger.

I taught this variation to Kathy because she has been dealing with some discomfort and pain in her right arm with certain movements. She is seeing a specialist for the pain, and as her coach it is my job to make sure that she can continue to train, pain free, by avoiding movements that cause her pain so that she can continue to work towards her goals while she heals.

One of the movements that has been causing her pain is the part of the get-up when she comes up to her hand and posts for the leg sweep; both on the way up and on the way down.

Before I met with Kathy last Friday, over the past month I had instructed her train the get-up but only to either the elbow or to the hand so that she could continue to train this movement pain free.

The get-up is one of Kathy’s most favorite movements (as it is mine ;) ), so I thought what could possibility be better than to teach Kathy this advanced variation of the get-up.

She was thrilled!

Below are the steps, with video demonstration, to learn how to progress to training the double kettlebell or no-hands get-up.

Step One

Train the Deadman’s (called this because your arm position makes you look like a zombie) or Double Get-up Sit-up. Practice this movement bodyweight first.

Within this sit-up you initiate the movement with almost a McGill Curl Up except your arms are straight above your torso instead of behind your back.

  • Lay flat on your back and make an X with your body so that your legs are positioned right outside of your hips.
  • Move your arms so that they are straight above your torso, fingers pointing straight to the ceiling.
  • As mentioned previously, with your arms straight above your torso, initiate the sit-up with a McGill Curl Up.
  • After you sit up, hold that brace, engage your glutes and quads, flex your feet, drive through your heels and then move through your hip hinge with a stiff spine to sit up.  In the video below you will see how my legs push forward as I move through my hips and drive through my heels.
  • As you sit up, drive your fingers straight to the ceiling and bring your ears between your biceps.

YES

Do not let your arms fall forward and pull you up with momentum.

NO

OPTION: You can add a dowel while practicing this movement if you need a target to help you keep your arms from falling forward.

YES

Again, do not let your arms fall forward and pull you up with momentum.

NO

Practice the Deadman’s sit-up in your training for a few weeks, two times per week. Start with 3 sets of 5 repetitions and then build up to 3 sets of 10 repetitions. When that tenth repetition on the third set is easy and you can still maintain your form perfectly, then start to load it with weight.

Step Two

Load the Deadman’s or Double Get-up Sit-up.

Start with a REALLY light weight in each hand, like 4kg (10lbs) kettlebells. Or if that is too much, you can even use one 10lb barbell plate and hold it just as you were holding the dowel.

Below I demonstrate with two kettlebells. Notice that my arms do not fall forward and I do not pull myself up with momentum. I sit up with an abdominal brace and by moving through my hips.

 

You can also practice this movement with just one kettlebell in one hand. Make sure to switch sides if you do this.

Practice the loaded Deadman’s sit-up in your training for a few weeks, two times per week. Start with 3 sets of 3 repetitions and then build up to 3 sets of 5 repetitions with your starting weight.

If you are training one side at a time with one kettlebell, do 3 sets, 3 repetitions with the kettlebell in the right hand, then 3 repetitions with the kettlebell in the left hand. Build up to 3 sets, 5 repetitions right side, 5 repetitions left side.

When that fifth repetition on the third set is easy and you can still maintain your form perfectly, then you can raise weight of the load and/or start to train the full double kettlebell Turkish get-up.

Step Three

Practice the full no hands or double Turkish get-up bodyweight first before you load it.

  • Start the movement with the Deadman’s sit-up.
  • Then sweep both legs around to one side of your body by bending your legs so that you are sitting on one hip.
  • From there, come up to a tall kneeling position.
  • Your arms are still straight above your head.
  • Move on leg in front of you so that you move from tall kneeling to a half kneeling position.
  • Stand up just like you would in a tradition Turkish get-up except that both arms are overhead instead of just one arm.
  • When you come back down you will reverse everything.
  • Drop step lunge down to half kneeling.
  • Come to tall kneeling.
  • Sit to one side of your body so that you are sitting on one hip.
  • Sweep your legs from a bent position to straight out in front of you resuming the finish position of your deadman’s situp.
  • Slowly roll yourself down to lying down; arms are still straight up above your torso.
  • Lower your arms to the rack position.

Below I demonstrate the no hands/double kettlebell get-up with one kettlebell:

Right Side

Left Side

Below I demonstrate the no hands/double kettlebell get-up with two kettlebells:

Work in the no hands/double kettlebell get-up into your training program once per week, along with training traditional Turkish get-ups on other days during the week.  Keep the training load to 10 repetitions total no hands/double kettlebell get-up per session.

Note: You will see when people attempt a max effort with the double kettlebell get-up that they will not initiate the movement with the deadman’s sit-up.  Instead they will initiate the movement with a knee tuck, to a kip, roll and sit-up to the finish position of the deadman’s sit-up.  This is because, since it is a max effort, e.g. two 20kg (44lbs – total 88lbs) kettlebells, it is very difficult to roll through a sit-up with that much weight overhead.  Click HERE for a good example of this movement.

Some important things to keep in mind while you prepare to train this advanced movement:

  • This is an ADVANCED variation of the get-up so please make sure to learn and practice the traditional Turkish get-up before you venture into learning the no hands/double kettlebell Turkish get-up.
  • Practice the movement bodyweight until you feel comfortable with the coordination of the movement before you load it.
  • When selecting a weight for this variation of the get-up, select a weight that is 50% or LESS of the max weight that you use for your traditional Turkish get-up.

For example, my max traditional Turkish get-up is 30kg (66lbs), I discovered that my max no-hands, single kettlebell get-up on my right side is 16kg (35lbs) and on my left side it is 14kg (30lbs). I am comfortable regularly training 12-14kg on each side. My max double kettlebell Turkish get-up is with a 12kg (26lbs) in each hand for a total weight of 24kg (53lbs). I am comfortable regularly training 10kg (22lbs) in each hand for a total load of 20kg (44lbs).

  • Do not try to be a hero. Focus on the mastering the difficulty of the movement, not trying to max out the load.
  • The get-up is a fantastic way to:
    1. Identify asymmetries; and
    2. Correct these asymmetries. The no hands get-up takes this to a whole other level in terms of both coordination of movement and load (see my max weights above for the single kettlebell no-hands get-up as an example).
  • This movement will SMOKE your abs. My abs were so sore on Saturday after teaching this to Kathy.
  • The Turkish get-up is indeed Turkish.

I once taught it to a Turkish client and she said, “This is not Turkish!”

I laughed and then explained to her, that actually, yes it is. Turkish wrestlers used to train this movement in order to build strength.

Her response, “Yes, that does sound like something Turkish wrestlers would do…”

This movement is challenging but A LOT of fun! So train safe and ENJOY!!

**********

Join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift!

Coming to Columbus, Ohio on March 21, 2015 and Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 18, 2015.

Read more and register HERE.

Working towards a goal of a pull-up? Sign up for my Attack The Bar Pull-up Program on WeightTraining.com; Level I and Level II currently available.

Learn more HERE.

Holiday Swing Challenge!

2H swing

Have you signed up for my Holiday Swing Challenge yet??

Stay sane and in shape through the holidays and join me for my Holiday Swing Challenge!

Last December I did the 10,000 swings in 28-days workout plan.  This December I will be running my own swing challenge and I hope that you will join me.

The kettlebell swing challenge is about staying committed to your fitness routine through the holidays. Just because the holidays are upon us doesn’t mean you should thrown in the towel on your existing fitness routine or wait until the New Year to start a new goal.

You can enjoy the holidays AND stay fit, or even GET FIT, it IS possible!

Subscribe to my Holiday Swing Challenge email list and I will email you, FREE of charge, the 5-day swing plan for the month on Sunday November 30, 2014.

Subscribe HERE

After you sign up, please request to join the Facebook group to post your swing count updates and win prizes!  You can join the Facebook group HERE.

The Holiday Swing Challenge runs December 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014. I will explain details in my email on November 30, 2014.

PRIZES!!

1st Place winner with the most swings completed will receive one free month’s subscription to Iron Body Studios Premium Online Training Group through WeightTraining.com.

2nd Place winner with the second most swings completed will receive 50% off one month’s subscription to Iron Body Studios Premium Online Training Group through WeightTraining.com.

3rd Place winner with the third most swings completed will receive 25% off one month’s subscription to Iron Body Studios Premium Online Training Group through WeightTraining.com.

Check out Iron Body Studios WeightTraining.com Premium Group HERE.

I look forward to swinging with you!

~Artemis

#BeXena

#NotAfraidToLift

Just Eat

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The day before my I Am Not Afraid To #LiftBoston Workshop I went to get a manicure and while I was drying my nails I flipped through some of the fashion magazines they had at the drying station. The only time I ever read these magazines is when I’m at the nail salon, drying my nails, or at a spa or salon waiting for some other spa service appointment. EVER. I’m always curious as to what they have published about “toning your arms and abs” or any body image driven articles that are published to help women feel better about their bodies or rather overanalyze even further if their bodies are “ideal”. I feel so detached from what they publish that it always fascinates me that 1) There are women out there who read this crap and take it seriously and 2) That these magazines still exist. Then I remember that, unfortunately, as a woman who has a healthy body image (now) and a balanced approach to eating (now), I am the minority. However, this was not always the case.

As I flipped through Glamour magazine an article caught my eye, “How do you feel about your body?”. It was actually a survey that they took once 30 years ago in 1984 and again now in 2014 in which they asked women that exact question. They reported that even though over the past 30 years there has been a movement of self-acceptance for women, that overall they actually feel WORSE about themselves today in 2014. According to this survey, in 1984 41% of women were “unhappy” with their bodies and now in 2014 54% of women are “unhappy” with their bodies. Now who knows how much truth there is to their results (refer back to point #1: “People take this crap seriously??”), but it definitely sparked some thought.

Despite the “self-acceptance” movement for women over the years, what was the reason for this 13% increase??

Social media.

I’m not surprised.

We all portray our best, happiest, sexiest, selves on social media with the most flattering filter possible.

“Look at me, look at me!! I’m so sexy, I’m so beautiful and my life is so incredibly AWESOME!!!” ~Instagram User @Foxy2399

So now, since the rise of social media, not only are we subjected to air brushed, altered photo perfection in magazines, but we also have social media to fuel our poor body image.

kimscene14n-4-web (A lathering of baby oil and a crafty airbrush technique will do the trick!)

However, remember this, no one is perfect, no one is happy 100% of the time, everyone has their own challenges, and no one is going to post their dark side (well, maybe Marilyn Manson will) or their bad day on Instagram.  (For an entertaining post about how people manipulate photos on social media to put forth false body transformation and their best self on social media, read “Transformation Tuesday: I’m Calling Bullshit”.) 

As I read this article, what really hit home and got my wheels turning to rewind back 10 to 20 plus years ago and to reflect upon on my life and where I was at during that time, were the answers to the question they asked women, “How much more could you weigh and still like yourself?”

The answers: “60 percent of survey-takers of all weights said five pounds at the most. Over a third of them said not even an ounce!”

That 5lbs that we want to lose.

That 5lbs that we don’t want to gain.

How did it come about that the number on the scale defines who we are, our body image, and how we feel about our bodies and ourselves?

Reading this answer caused me to think back to a time in my life, starting when I was 15 years old until I was 28 years old (I’m 38 years old going on 39 I January) when I always watched the scale and I was literally fanatical about what I ate down to the calories in chewing gum. I do not lie.

I touched upon this topic in my post “Strength Goals Trump The Scale” and in “Unsexy Training Methods Produce Sexy Results” (when I discuss intermittent fasting), but I don’t talk too much about this aspect of that time in my life because it’s so far away from who I am now. When I reflect upon that time in my life it’s hard for me to believe that I was actually that person.

At age 15 I started to become very unhappy with my body. However, this did not start at age 15. By the time I was 15 years old I had 12 years of the culture of classical ballet drilled into me, and had instructors telling me from the time that I was 9 years old that I could stand to lose a few pounds and that my curves and muscles did not fit the mold of a classical ballet dancer’s body. Combine 12 years of those thoughts and beliefs with a changing teenage body and you have a recipe for an eating disorder.

At age 15 I thought I was fat and that my body didn’t measure up to many other girls at school, or at ballet for that matter. As a result I became obsessed with losing weight and counting calories and making sure the Stairmaster reported that I burned all the calories I ate that day so that mentally I could feel like it was OK for me to eat dinner.

A typical day for me would be a slice of pineapple for breakfast, a can of cranberry juice for lunch, ½ stick of gum (yes, a ½ stick of gum because one whole piece of gum had too many calories to have all at once!), celery and carrot sticks and a cup of pasta, measured carefully for dinner. I rarely ate meat, and I would make sure I burned every calorie I ate that day on the Stairmaster before I had dinner (the pasta).

I would go to bed hungry.  My stomach would growl and instead of eating I would force myself to go to sleep and wait until the next day to eat again.

My obsessive eating behavior was driven by poor body image. I had anorexic tendencies. This carried on for almost a whole year. I lost a tremendous amount of weight, to the point that my family and my friends were extremely worried about me. My family would constantly try to get me to eat something and I would just run upstairs and lock myself in my room. For most people with an eating disorder the main factor that drives them is control. They feel out of control in other areas of their lives or how they feel about themselves so they control their food intake; then, for people who are anorexic, the weight loss and being thin empowers them. They may still feel like they need to lose weight even if they are rail thin, but they feel empowered by controlling food and weight loss and this drives them to continue on their self-destructive path.

This was my case. I felt empowered by the compliments I received about my weight loss and the teenager in me rebelled against my parents by not eating and I felt in control because they couldn’t make me eat.

The crazy and ironic thing is that even though you think that you’re in control, your obsessive thoughts and food are actually controlling YOU instead. Filling your brain with irrational thoughts that fuel your actions.

Eventually, as the months passed, and my daily energy diminished, I became hungry and I started to eat.

Even though I gave into my eating disorder and borderline starved myself, in the end, hunger did win the battle; which is not always the case for people when they fall into this dysfunctional behavioral pattern with food. More often than not people who have an eating disorder need behavioral, nutritional, and medical help because they don’t know how to help themselves.

Hunger helped me and somehow I was mentally strong enough to help myself.

HOWEVER, even though I started to eat again, and went on to finish my senior year in high school on a healthy note, I fell right back into this dysfunctional behavioral pattern my freshman year in college.

I continued to waiver between healthy eating periods and periods when I would eat very little, or not eat, count calories, and exercise to burn off what I ate. Usually I would fall back into my dysfunctional eating patterns (or rather NOT-eating patterns) if I was experiencing change or stress in my life because controlling what I ate, what I didn’t eat, and level of exercise was the one thing I felt like I could control when I couldn’t control stress or change.

This carried on until I was about 28 years old, shortly after I had started to study kung fu, started to lift weights more consistently and more seriously, and shortly after I obtained my spin instructor certification and started to work part-time as a group fitness instructor. After a year studying kung fu, lifting weights more seriously, and teaching spin classes, I finally started to get fed up with being victim to this obsessive behavior. The more I engaged in these activities, they helped me to focus on what I could DO and not how I looked or the number on the scale. As a result, I started to become stronger mentally and build a more positive body image.

Not only was I starting my journey as a role model for health, fitness, and nutrition as a group fitness instructor, but also I just wanted to EAT and not think about it. I wanted to eat when I was hungry, stop when I was full, and just be happy and not obsess about the number on the scale and whether or not I was staying at that desired number that would help me to think that, that number equated to my “ideal body”. Not muscles or being strong, but the number on the scale defined me and how my body looked to me; A NUMBER ON THE SCALE DEFINED THAT FOR ME AT THAT TIME. That sounds so ridiculous to me now as I write this because it is SO far away from who I am now!

I had my last dance with starving myself exactly 10 years ago in November 2004. Below are pictures from this time, when I was 28 years old. I was on vacation in Aruba with an old friend of mine and I probably weighed 105lbs, 107lbs MAX. Before I left for this trip I remember weighing myself at the gym after each time I ran on the treadmill to make sure I was staying under 110lbs. I weigh 117lbs now and have for many years now, happily and consistently.

Some of you may think I look “hot” in the bikini…

and if the camera angle was just right I actually didn’t look like I was starving myself…

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…but hopefully most of you see how thin, miserable and both mentally and physically unhealthy I was.

In one of the pictures you can see this misery as my pants, which are supposed to be fitted, are falling right off of me…

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While I was on this vacation, I ate, and I drank. When I got back I started to make positive changes to never fall back into these unhealthy not-eating patterns ever again.

I always made healthy choices when it came to food when I did eat, but this time around I made sure that I was consistently eating. I started to really pay attention to when I was hungry and when I was full and followed that. I made sure I ate three meals a day and ate snacks in between if I was hungry for them. I followed the 80/20 or 90/10 rule by eating clean 80-90% of the time and then allowing myself to enjoy wine, pizza, ice cream, a night out at dinner 10-20% of the time and NOT obsess about it or exercise excessively to burn off the calories.

It wasn’t easy but I worked hard for it because I knew it was important for my physical and mental health and important if I wanted to be a role model that truly represented a healthy, sustainable approach to fitness and nutrition.

In addition, personally, I wanted FREEDOM; freedom from my low self-esteem and poor body image. FREEDOM from caring about what the number on the scale read.

The stronger I became mentally and physically through practicing intuitive eating, training in kung fu, and focusing on strength training rather than running my calories off on the treadmill, the happier I became and the more detached I felt from my past obsessive and unhealthy behavior.

It was hard, it took work, mental will, changes in my thought processes and behavior but I was on a mission.

It was not just a mission for me to change this behavior in myself, but it was a journey, a new chapter in my life. I wanted to be free of these unhealthy thoughts and behavior. I was excited to NOT obsess about what I ate. I was excited to finally discover what it was like to JUST EAT. Eat because I was hungry, eat because I wanted to have energy to train, eat because I wanted to have energy to laugh and enjoy social events.

In 2007 my mom became a CHEK Level II Holistic Life and Nutrition Coach and I read the book How To Eat Move and Be Healthy, by Paul Chek. Learning from my mom, and reading this book was another step in my journey that helped me to learn about a holistic approach to nutrition that included everything from sleep and managing stress to eliminating the use of a microwave and the importance of eating organic foods, grass fed meats, and body type eating.

The more I focused on having a healthy and holistic approach to nutrition, worked towards building my career in the fitness industry, and embraced being a role model to others in the realm of fitness and nutrition, the more I moved farther away from having a poor body image and engaging in obsessive and unhealthy behavior related to food.

I am mentally and physically healthy and strong now and I rarely weight myself. I’m proud of myself for maintaining 117lbs consistently over the years since that trip to Aruba, and honestly don’t worry if one day the scale reads more.

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 (This is me, year 2014, at age 38, as a result of EATING and Lifting HEAVY Weights)

I recognize that there is a plus or minus 3 pounds that we all waiver between and that is the natural, normal, human body to weigh less one day, more the next and even weigh differently at different times of the day. Hormones, menstrual cycles, a full stomach, hydration, sleep and bowel movements all play a part and the bottom line is, YOUR WEIGHT DOES NOT DEFINE YOU OR YOUR BODY IMAGE. That number on the scale doesn’t mean that you have a “perfect body” or a less than “perfect body” whatever the hell a perfect body is.

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There is a healthy weight for each of us to maintain as individuals as we eat the diet that is right for our body type, and follow an 80/20 or 90/10 rule so that we can ENJOY our 10-20 percent.

As a result of overcoming my past struggles and changing my mindset to focus on what I could DO and not how I looked, I achieved my black belt in kung fu…

(I never would have been able to pass the strength test for my kung fu black belt test, detailed in Strength Goals Trump The Scale, or have had the energy and strength to endure my three hour, physically intensive black belt test if I was worried about the calories in a piece of chewing gum.)

Opened my own business…

3493lbs of Kettlebells

Completed the Iron Maiden Challenge as a lightweight…

Iron Maiden Challenge 2014_Thin No Text

 (I never would have been able to complete the Iron Maiden Challenge if I continued to starve myself.)

AND I have the opportunity to help others make similar positive changes for themselves no matter what a survey in Glamour magazine says.

LiftBoston

In addition, my past shaped my philosophy and my approach to fitness and nutrition for the BETTER, which is to maintain a mentally and physically healthy homeostasis that you can realistically apply to daily life.

I was a slave to my past obsessive behavior and I am liberated from those thoughts and that behavior now. Therefore, not only will I never let myself be prisoner of that again, but nor will I let anyone feel prisoner to similar thoughts and behavior if I can help it!

SO when people obsess to me about eating a piece of bread on a day they are not going to exercise and worry that it is too many calories to eat, my response is (are you serious???), JUST EAT.

Or when people ask me, “Do you train fasted?”, “Do you take BCAA’s?”, “What do you eat BEFORE you train?”, “What do you eat AFTER you train?”.  My response, “I JUST EAT.  I never train on an empty stomach and I don’t take BCAA’s.  I JUST EAT.”

Or when people obsess to me that they fell out of their routine for a week because of travel, being sick, or other events. My response is wake up tomorrow, leave the past week behind you, because it’s the past and you cannot change it, start fresh tomorrow and look forward to getting back into your routine!

As long as you are following the 80/20 or 90/10 rule, exercising regularly (4-5 days per week is a good number to aim for), lifting weights and accomplishing BIG things in the weight room (Be Xena, NOT Edna!), as lifting weights and putting on muscle and muscle weight will help you to ENJOY that 10-20 percent even more, then YOUR best body image and sexiest self will reveal itself.

Lifting Weights = More Muscle = Burn More Calories = Weight Loss, Leaner Body, STRENGTH & CONFIDENCE!

The number on the scale may stay the same or go up, but your clothes will fit better, and maybe even go down a size, and at the end of the day who cares what the scale says, because Strength, Confidence, and Positive Body Image trumps the scale ANY DAY.

Be Xena, Not Edna, because Xena can eat cake and Xena JUST EATS.

JUST EAT.