Ed Center

Ed Center

Kenzai Member
Assistant Trainer
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We Rocked It, Beaches 
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Pics: me blasted by the final workout. I always miss Asian food most on program, so we went to Korean barbecue to celebrate the end of Beach Blast.

Final workout of 20 one minute Blasts was a killer. While it was tough, I was pleased to find myself moving with grace and efficiency in each exercise. Two weeks ago that wasn't the case. I love that Kenzai teaches us over and over that consistent dedication will lead to progress - this time in my ability to do intense bursts of strenuous activity.
Unfortunately, I didn't see progress in fat loss. It's disappointing because I was 100% compliant with exercise and 95% with diet. I don't see a difference in pictures, and the tape measure says I lost just half an inch on my wast line. I think that one month is just too short a time to see progress. No worries. My actual peak days are 2.5 weeks away. I'm going to jump into two weeks of Chisel to get ready for Kauai at the end of the month.
I loved the energy of team Hanalei. My last two programs had lackluster team energy, so it was great to have the support, playfulness and banter of this team. I think I met my commitment of commenting on all blog posts. It was so fun to do a program with Cousin June - you've been powering on program since January - it's amazing to see such athletic commitment at almost 60 years old. You are a such a badass. Thanks Hanalei - I look forward to seeing your great pics on your peak days.


DOMS on the road

Holy crap. Went out for a jog this morning and the soreness in my legs was killer. Like day after soccer tournament killer. These Beach Blast workouts are no joke.

Traveling this week and diet has been mostly on point but not perfect. I have an accountabilibuddy who is also fitness focused. At every meal we approve each other's plates. We've also been allowing each other to have just one bite of desert or indulgent treats. Unfortunately, she also likes wine, so there's that.


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Been having a blast on Beach Blast. Damn those workouts are intense. This is coming from a person who always adds extra sets and reps in the beginning of a program. Week 1 kicked all our asses. Bring on Week 2.

So I'm gonna let you beloved heteros in on a secret. There actually IS a secret gay agenda. But you have it all wrong. The gay agenda wants nothing to do with corrupting your children, changing the institution of marriage, or even the ubiquity of male cleavage (although I admit, I don't actually need those top two buttons on my shirt). The gay agenda is actually about one simple thing: brunch. A good weekend brunch is everything to the gays. It is the most civilized of meals. It allows people to come together after church, a leisurely read of the Sunday paper, or sleeping off a night of partying. Like a coming out celebration, it brings alcohol out of the shadows and into the clear sunshine (not on program, of course). And it's over by 3:00pm allowing people indulge in other gay debauchery, or at least giving one time to get the laundry washed and folded.

I love a good brunch. And hosting weekend brunch allows me to do two things: spend time with both my friends and my kids, without me having to ask my kids to sit still at a restaurant. It also allows me to control the menu so I can stay on track during program. I've learned that waffles and sausages or bacon take just 10 minutes to get ready and you don't have to start the cooking until guests arrive. Waffles are also a carb canvas that can be taken in many different directions. So this weekend, while I provided the classic options of maple syrup, berries, and whipped cream, all the adults chose to emulate my Kenzai waffle (upper left pic), an avocado toast waffle with a side of blueberries and yogurt. We served rosé to guests, but I opted with iced coffee and "spa water" (upper right pic). Spa water has revolutionized hydration in our house. We are drinking more water because it's tasty. Also the kids have fun picking different combinations. This one is watermelon, cucumber, and mint.

I want to make Sunday brunch a more regular thing at our house. What are your best Kenzai brunch ideas?

Bottom left pic is carne asada tacos that I made for dinner.
Pics below are brunch antics.


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Grace and Flexibility  
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I’ve had a powerful run through Reach over the past 8 weeks. I’m proud of how I showed up and what I accomplished. This program takes me away from the areas of athleticism in which I thrive – running, strength, HIIT, rapid movement – and requires me to spend time in areas that are more challenging for me. Which is exactly why I need to spend time doing this. It’s hard for me to slow down, to hold a pose for four breaths or sometimes eight minutes. And in doing so, I feel my body opening, moving better, reaching further in a very short time.

My hamstrings, shoulder back reach, and hip mobility showed the most impressive progress. I feel powerful flowing through my sun salutation, and I’ve made a lot of progress on the World Pincer PNF, I wish I had taken a baseline photo of that.

My proudest achievement is mental/emotional. In July, I went through one of the toughest crises of my career. In part because of this program, I committed to moving through this with flexibility, mobility, and grace, rather than using my default tools of confrontation and fighting to win. I will leave this job at the end of September. While the experience was hard, I actually found a greater level of control, ease and joy swimming with the current.

Continuation goals:
Morning exercises + sun salutations every day
Daily world pincer PNF + shoulder stretches
Evening stretches whenever I watch tv, and after soccer games (doing the stretches on the field after soccer was my favorite time to do these – I got the deepest stretches)

I didn’t take the diet seriously this time around. Late summer offers too much social temptation. I’ve gained stomach fat and my loose shorts feel tight. Time to spend the next couple of months locked down before I go to Hawaii at the end of October. Fortunately, Kenzai has a new program exactly for that. September Beach Blast, here I come.

I’ll also train for a Spartan Race in November. After that I will jump into Kenzai Marathon and train for a race in Feb or Mar.

The team energy was low this time around, sometimes it felt a bit lonely out there on the blogs. Ward, you continuously brought the cheerleading and support. Also thankful to Kenzai family – June, Janet, Meghan, Watson, Kim, Naoko, Tahera for nudging me along.


My Hips Don’t Lie
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I noticed something cool this morning. Since high school, I've been uncomfortable sitting in a cross-legged position on the floor. My tight hips made it an untenable position. Today, I sat in that position preparing for a seated twist, and I noticed - hey, I'm completely comfortable. Apparently my hips have opened up just enough to make this position feel ok.

I'm also excited at the progress in my shoulder stretch over the last couple of weeks. Looking at my weekly progress pic, I can see significant progress from the left side 7.5 weeks ago to the right side on Monday. With my right elbow up, I'm getting close to touching. Will definitely continue to work on this progress after the program.

We're just days away now.


12 days ago I wrote a post about recommitting to the diet. Man, that did not happen. I've been enjoying all of summer's opportunities including a visit to the Minnesota State Fair (they really love their fair) that included cheese curds, ice cream with a higher fat content (because lack of fat was always the problem with ice cream), deep fried pork chop on a stick, and a variety of craft beers.

So I've got a good muffin top going on right now. I'm not mad about it, I know what I need to do about it, and that will happen soon.

In the meantime, I've been enjoying the pnf. I LOVE the hamstring one. It's like magic to me. I get about three inches of forward progress in a single session. In my first time through Reach I didn't understand the World Pincer PNF at all, but this time I'm making progress.

Just a week left!


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Shoulder flexibility is one of my goals and I've been pretty diligent with shoulder exercises, including some days, subbing a 20 min shoulder flexibility video for the skillful movement section.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ywv4agkhHOU

In the baseline to week 5 comparison, I can see some progress, especially when my right elbow is up, but I would like to see more. I wonder if there is a way to PNF this stretch to get more progress. Ward?


Dial in the Diet
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This summer has been full of powerful experiences for me, and I've paired most of those experiences with indulgent food and drink. I feel the result of this in the curve of my belly and the tightness of my trousers. No regrets - there are times to fully enjoy life. It's now time to tighten my diet and stick to the Kenzai plan. I did a Sunday meal prep yesterday, so my refrigerator is brimming with veggies.

I'm enjoying the focus on mobility and flexibility, and also missing the more intense workouts of my regular regime. Pondering what my next program will be when Reach finishes. In the meantime, there is so much work to be done on my shoulder, hip, and hamstring flexibility.


Last week was in so many ways. It started off with visiting my cousin (Kenzai member) June L, who was housesitting for our friend (Kenzai member) Kit F, who has a lovely rural home in Sonoma County. As I've blogged, things have been stressful at work. Having a beautiful place to escape to was a magical healing balm - thank you Kit! My cousin is the best person I know at helping me see things, cheerleading me, and calling me out on my shit. Having her council was essential.

June is joining Kettle Bell tomorrow, so I brought my bells and did a workout with her in addition to doing Reach.

Here are some vids:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ys1uLIuB3Us
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9aEbg7nVAo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ml3XdH_Mivk

I won't pretend we avoided wine in wine country, but in general we ate clean meats and tons of veggies.

I've been hitting the exercises regularly, but my diet hasn't gone as planned. My resignation went public on Tuesday. Letting people know that I'm looking for a new thing has everyone asking me for drinks! I'm not sure my liver or my waistline can handle the transition.

This upcoming weekend, I'll be going on an annual trip with great friends. This is not a time to try to be restrained. Ugh - I should just plan another inch on the waist come a week from today.


Progress and Not
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First of all, those Cossack stretches are the worst physical activity I've ever done. They were so uncomfortable and I looked nothing like that damn flexible dude in the photo (hey Thomas). There was no way I could keep a flat foot and I had to grab two yoga blocks to hold onto because I couldn't put my hands on the floor. Anyways, I cursed and screamed through the minimum time on each side. Onward.

Progress: I can see progression in my downward dog. My recent (shirtless) downward dog is actually looking yoga-like compared to my curved shape from my assessment.

No progress: conversely, in the shoulder flexibility progression I seem to have gone backwards. Despite working on shoulder flexibility every day, my flexibility seems to have gotten worse.

I know that there are too many variables to assume that I have gotten better or worse in just two snapshots. But hopefully the downward dog trend continues and the shoulder flexibility trends the other way.

Despite my intentions, my diet hasn't been tight. Given the lower calorie burn in Reach, I've seen some weight gain over the past two weeks. In reaction to work stress, I've succumbed to afternoon sweets (yesterday, I went out and bought a cookie at 3. It was delicious. I never go out to buy cookies), and evening alcohol. If I want to maintain or lose body fat, I need to lock it down.


Morning Relaxation
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I do my morning stretches and yoga exercises at 6am before my kids wake up. If I'm lucky, I get through shivasana in silence and calm. These pictures show that plan doesn't always workout.

In my last post I mentioned that I've been going through some serious work stress and that has made the shivasana difficult and scary. For the last few sessions, I've embraced the scary and it has been pleasant. I'm often feeling optimistic, secure and resolved. Not always, but I don't spend a lot of time in negativity and I'm bouncing back to mental positivity fairly quickly. Thanks to everyone for your encouragement and suggestions - esp Randy and Kit who gently encouraged me to open up to the scary when it was time.


Fear in Shivasana

I'm going through a stressful period at work. I noticed that in my shivasana for the last two days, I can't stop my monkey mind from going to dark places. I've completed the Mind program and enjoyed it - so I have a sense of mental wanderings and strategies to bring myself back to focus. But I realize that I'm actually afraid of being alone with my thoughts right now. Being calm but focusing on movement and body awareness relieves my stress, but laying alone with my thoughts and feelings feels counter-productive and dangerous right now.

I've done enough Kenzai programs to know that embracing the uncomfortable will lead to good results. So I will continue the shivasanas - laying silently, focusing on breathing, and seeing what I have to learn from this process.


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It's been about a six week break from Kenzai and it's been lovely. Half of that time has been a holiday in the Philippines - not much working out and a lot of high caloric food, so I'm ready to the focus of a program and some clean eating.

This is my second trip through Reach. Two years ago, I had a new baby, and I dropped the Kenzai program I was on and switched to Reach because I could do the workouts from my living room while the baby slept. I learned a lot about flexibility and mobility. I had been resistant to stretching for years and hated yoga even though my husband is a yoga instructor. While Reach isn't my favorite program, I can definitely feel the benefits and I think it's critical to add flexibility and joint work as I age.

My assessments below show that I have some decent movement ability but also that I have significant room for improvement.

I'm going to modify the program a bit this time to incorporate some other goals. I'm taking up swimming, so I will sub out the middle workout a couple times a week to do laps at the pool. I also want to work on my pistol squat - I've gotten close but haven't pulled it off yet. I know the active hamstring work will help here.

Program Goals:
- Measurable improvement in my shoulder + hamstring flexibility
- Do the Shivasana every time (no rushing the finish)
- Be able to do at least one pistol squat on each side without assistance
- Lose one inch on the waistline

I'm excited to meet some new team members.


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Bikini Ready! 
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Project Bikini Body is a phenomenal success. As you can see from my final photo, I'm feeling very bikini-ready and confident to be on the beaches of Palawan and Cebu in June.

There's still a month before we go, so I'm going to keep locked in on the diet with the exception of a couple planned indulgences coming up in late May and early June. I'm going to sneak into the end of the Beach Blast program for the next couple of weeks.

In my real pic below, you can see my progress from January when I was quite fluffy, to the end of Chisel in March, to the end of Kettle Bells now. That's been some consistent dedication, so I'm very proud of myself.

This was a really fun program and I would definitely do it again. I'm excited to try Kettle Bells 2 at some point this year. Thanks to my teammates for pushing me. For Kenzai regulars like Fish, Janet, Naoko, Cecilia, Meghan, Watson and now my cousin June for constantly popping on and encouraging me. Coach Jess - I swear I can feel your positivity and love flowing across the pond and continent and right into my heart - and sweat glands! Thanks for being such a joy to work with.

Whole30 report out - well I've been doing it for 2.5 weeks now because of a work challenge and an opportunity to experiment. The pluses are that I have continued to lose body fat, and that my energy levels have been consistent and high. I will say that without the grains, I get intense cravings for crap food - particularly sweet baked goods like doughnuts and cakes - that I never wanted before. After this experiment, I'll stick with the Kenzai diet approach, although know that Whole30 can be an effective tool for short, focused, fat loss.

Onward!


Confession
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My son had his first communion this weekend. As part of it, he had to do his first confession on Saturday - and believe me, that 8 year old has lots of material. AND speaking of confession...

I went through a really strange four-day period in which I refused to do the workouts. After loving this program for five weeks, sailing through it with high motivation, fidelity, and consistency - I just found myself hating the bells. My standard avoidance was to wake up on time, read blogs, check emails, realize it was past my time to get out and workout, make other excuses, and finally when I was way past time, I would say - well I don't have time for the four cycles, so I'll just go for a short, hard run. I did go running 2-3 miles all of these days and one day also did the Silver workout with Mom. I stayed tight on diet. I'm not feeling too bad because I know the whole secret of Kenzai is to stay tight on diet and move everyday. But the psychology of it is weird.

I was back on track this morning - did all four cycles and enjoyed feeling ridiculous doing the primal quadrupedal movements from Day 37 lesson. Clockwise from upper left; I'm a cat, I'm a bear, I do uneven push-ups, I buy healthy foods, I'm a silverback gorilla.

Pic below is my latest progress pic at my most truthful angle - 3/4. I'm feeling confident and beach ready. Project Bikini Body has been effective. These jeans are too loose now. I would like to lose a little more of the body fat in the lower abdomen and love handles. I have exactly one month to do this before the Philippines. I also realize that losing that last 2-5% body fat will be very difficult at my age. I'm going to go for it, but if doesn't happen, I'm feeling beach confident right now.

Just a few more days, K-bell soldiers. Keep on going.


May 12th, 2016

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