Hell’s Kettlebells

The seed for my latest experiment began when I read Tim Ferris’ book, the 4-Hour Body. In this tome, Kettlebell swings are touted as the penultimate bang-for-your-buck workout. Ferris claims that these one movement will sculpt your body in small amount of time (10-20 minutes a week). This past semester, one of my 30-day challengers gave this workout rave reviews, saying how (much like Ferris) minute for minute it was the most efficient and effective workout she had tried. Enter New Year’s.

As I have learned in my research on willpower, motivation, and habits, how you frame an activity is key. In order to make this fun, I have been comparing different Youtube videos to try out Kettlebells this past week. Always practical, I began first with a ten-minute workout by a hot young, thing named Amy (you know the trainer types, all ponytail, teeth, and abs). It was not easy, but I made it through. My main complaint was the lack of a warm up and cool down. I Youtubed stretching exercises in an effort to stave off muscle tightness. Instead, I injured neck, as I am the type of person who can do a “halo swing” around their head with a large weight and then pull a muscle turning my head to the side.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiC0zylTB0w

Despite my cool down efforts, my leg muscles intensely felt the aftereffects. I have never before experienced pain going down steps, up yes, but never down. It impressed me. Running or using the elliptical machine did not leave such lingering effects.

Three days later, I tackled the 25-minute version by the same instructor. This included a minute warm up and cool down plus some cardio and floor exercises. The only turn off – burpees. Remember how I said how important it is frame activities positively? This is not possible for me when it comes to burpees. Sorry, no. I’ll drink some water and march in place until they are over.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-NUXOn1H1o

What really appears to deliver the pain from Amy is the many lunge moves she incorporates. When I was in physical therapy to stave off sciatic pain, one of the main exercises I received was lunges. So in addition to the kettlebell swing, which is always a key part of these workouts, I am getting the additionally muscle work necessary to maintain healthy hip alignment.

Three days appears to be my recovery time so far. Today I tackled my third workout by Fitness Blender. In terms of entertainment value, Fitness Blender lacks the upbeat trainer. Instead, you have a voice over while a robotic-like woman goes through the moves. I had to turn on some music in order to keep myself motivated throughout the sequence. Their kettlebell workout is eight moves that you repeat over the course of three rounds. While it shared some of the same moves as the previous workout, I felt it emphasized arm strength and squatting a bit more. I also did more swinging with this video, completing a total of 60 full two-handed swings.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pDMOIlPLFE

 

So far, the only noticeable physical difference (aside from muscle aches) is a spike in my appetite. Me make muscle, me hungry. Yes, somewhere deep inside me lives Cookie Monster. I fear I will lose nothing but gain much density.

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A Week of Photo Gratitude to Kick Off 2016

One constant tenet in positive psychology is gratitude. I have tried gratitude journals and the more enjoyable practice of having my family share their favorite moments of the day. This new year I have been approaching gratitude through my lens (thanks in part to a new DSLR from Santa). I stumbled upon this practice accidentally, as I tried to enjoy an endless game of hide and seek with my children. Children are by nature attention seekers, which can be emotionally draining, especially on what feels like day 100 of Christmas break. It’s easy to try to push back and isolate yourself in housework, a good book, or whatever it is you feel you “need to get done.” To appreciate the time, I pulled out my camera and began taking pictures. Immediately, I found myself smiling at their comically bad hiding places, at their antics upon discovery, and how they were getting along so well.

Today’s favorite picture: my hide and seek superstar.

A photo posted by Jen (@owlsandolives) on Jan 1, 2016 at 4:30pm PST

 

Once I began looking for new photo opportunities, I fell more in love with my environment. As an introvert, home is my recharge station. Like Batman, I have my own cave filled with gadgets of knowledge (i.e. books). One of my favorite book titles is for the prequel to Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Little Altars Everywhere. This is how I feel about my house, like it is filled with little altars and nests. In fact, I may like it all too much, as the winter break bred in me a deep contentment that has diminished my desire to socialize and explore. Next week, I am hoping the fresh snowfall will give a new canvas of inspiration.