Category Archives: Big T’s Training Journal

Creating Headspace

Mind Medicine
Mind Medicine

I’ve heard the following phrase a few times since I started this Kettlebell Zen enterprise,

“yo, Foley…where’s the Zen?” (said in Rocky Balboa voice)

The “zen” is in the kettlebell AND in your mind & body. One needs to focus at the task at hand in order to safely execute the movement. The iron is unforgiving if there is any “negative self-talk,” or if the mind isn’t concentrating on the task at hand. A recent development has allowed a little more clarity in my life. Some of you are already aware of it, but others may not. It’s a a company called Headspace. Of the seven out of eight days that I have used this program, there was only one day that I felt a “little off center,” and that was the day I didn’t meditate! Lesson learned! It’s addictive..in a good way.! So give it a shot and tell me what you think when you come to class!

Just finished Day 7 of a 10 day trial and I’m loving it. It fits in really well with the “Slight Edge,” philosophy that I talked about a few weeks ago. “Be a little better today than you were yesterday. Repeat.”

My daily consistent habits that build positive momentum for my day…

10min Meditation
5min handstand practice
Read 10 pages/book

What small daily habits have you taken on for personal self growth? I’d love to hear about it!

Laser Focus – The Key to Transformation

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser focus.” – Bruce Lee

Do you want to effect change in your appearance? Are you stuck on a hamster wheel of the “diet of the day?” Drowned out and confused by media messaging of eternal youth and the false promises of late night miracle pills, lotions and fitness gadgetry?

Shake, shake. shake. Shake, shake, shake. Shake your booty!

Shake, shake. shake. Shake, shake, shake. Shake your booty!

Stop. Simplify. Focus. Better yet, laser focus!

If fat loss (or weight loss) is the goal, then here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Instead of focusing on a weight loss number, pick one or two strength goals and go for it. Need ideas? First concentrate on the basic human movements: hip hinge, squat, pushing, pulling and the loaded carry (waiter walks, suitcase, farmers, racked). The kettlebell is an excellent tool to get you better acquainted with these movements. You will feel the changes in your body after the first session.

2. Once you have the basics dialed-in, find a couple strength goals. Better yet..focus on the “King of Exercises,” – the deadlift.

WHY?

A. You’ll burn a ton of calories and blast fat
B. Improves posture and builds total body strength
C. Hits all of the following muscles: hamstrings, glutes, calves, quads, abdominals, obliques, the entire back
D. Improves grip strength
E. It’s safe!

48kg Sumo Deadlift

48kg Sumo Deadlift

3. Contrary to popular opinion, variety and muscle confusion are not the magic formula. It’s consistency. Showing up when you don’t feel like showing up. Commit 3 days a week to your new craft. Surround yourself with folks that are striving for the same or similar goals. Always remember, if it’s not challenging you, then it’s not gonna change you! The 3 lbs pink dumbbells can be jettisoned.

4. Eat foods that your grandparents ate..better yet, make it your great grandparents.

A. Don’t drink your calories. Water, with a slice of lemon is all you need.
B. Don’t buy processed or packaged food. If it makes a health claim, then avoid it at all costs.
C. Support your local farmer markets

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it’s important to access your present condition. Knowing where you are in the present moment is just as important as having a goal.

Here is your “to-do,” list.

Check the vitals – Get a physical & blood work done. One company that has taken bio-metrics to the next level is WellnessFX in San Francisco. Here is what’s included in their thorough diagostic check-up. It’s not cheap, but then again, how can you really put a price tag on your health? Be wary of any doctor who prefers drugs and surgery over exercise and clean living.

Mirror-Assessment – Shed the clothes ad observe all features from head-to-toe, every angle. Note posture..are you slouching forward? Imagine how you want to look. This will provide incredible focus and motivation to improve. Psycho-Cybernetics is the classic book that delves into methods to dehypnotize yourself from false beliefs, and celebrate new freedom from fear and guilt. psychocyber

Weighing-in – The scale can keep you honest with your program. Weigh-in periodically, but realize that the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. You can actually lose fat, gain muscle and weigh more!

Take pictures – One from the front and another from the side

Body Fat Test – It’s a good tool because it can show what is not visible in the mirror or on the scale. The hydrostatic method is the best way to go.

Use a Tape Measure – Measure your waistline. Large waistlines are a signal of overeating, not fully digesting food, underexercising and at a greater risk of heart disease. Too much fat in the bloodstream, around the waistline, clogged arteries, clogged intestines — ALL indicators of declining health. Measure right around your navel.

How do your clothes fit? -Are there old dresses, pants or a favorite articles of clothing that you’d like to wear again? Imagine how those items of clothing used to feel. Put those items in view, so help keep you focused. What you are wearing now is the current scoreboard.

Now. Go forth and forge your new path of strength. Because life isn’t about fading into the sunset, it’s about being in the best physical and mental state..for as long as possible!

My Kettlebell Rebel Yell

Talk about the watershed moment – my third (and final) son being born one day after my 40th birthday. Quinton came into the Spring of my life..and so did the kettlebell. The kettlebell, sitting in a dusty corner of Berkeley Ironworks gym, didn’t even have to announce himself. I knew right away that it was a rebellious object..because no one was using it. I was going through life with open eyes that day..ready for the opportunity. Ready to be a kettlebell rebel.

Specialize in doing this opposite. Be a contrarian. Sprint through Life..don’t jog. Don’t follow the pack (or Bears or Lions for that matter!). Move to California. Be the first in your family to go to graduate school. Live in a “dangerous” city like Oakland..aka “The Town,”that just happens to have the most perfect weather climate for kettlebelling 365 days/year. We live with open eyes & hearts in one of the most diverse cities in this country, opting not to sell out to suburbia. Oakland speaks to our souls in a deep way. It’s kind of funny seeing how both my wife and I came from VERY small, homogenous towns in the Midwest. All the moves that have been made were of our choosing. Now, I choose to remain physically active to ensure that I get to participate fully in the lives of my kids. Some have called me “weird,” in my pursuits and that my kettlebell community is “cultish.” These jibes of misunderstanding that come my way are greeted and then sent along into the dustbin of life. Wax-on, wax off….

Sticks and Stones

The goal now is to stay on top of my craft and improve. As a StrongFirst Instructor, I’m forever learning, forever practicing, forever a “Permanent Beginner!” Practicing movements that will allow me to excel at the things I love to do: frisbee, ping pong, tennis, sprinting, playing catch with a football, & shutting down a 20-something on the basketball court. Oh yeah, & there is the pseudo-Greco-Roman wrestling matches with the boys. It’s to help others not only learn the beauty of kettlebells, but to help people move better, in the safest of manners.

As for my boys, they are my PRIME motivators

Future 510 Kettlebellers & Human turkish get-up practice tools :)

and will learn when they are ready. The tools are always there for them, but I will not shove the proverbial kettlebell spoon down their throat. It needs to come from them. In the meantime, I will use them as a tool in my training, to help them get the gist of a life of strength.

Yes, I’ll Eat My Eggs..and get YOKED!

Love handles. The Wheat Belly Roll. Always thinking I could outsmart my other “brain,” by lifting heavy and often. It’s not so simple. “It” has been with me for a long time, like a nagging reminder that there is work to be done. Only this time, in a smarter fashion.

Circle the clock back 28 years to my first semester at Wisconsin-Madison. I checked in at a scrappy 5’10” – 152. That would change, quickly. Newfound freedoms also brought on newfound responsibilities, including the choice of being able to eat whatever I wanted. Those first four months in Madtown got the best of me. Endless beer drinking, usually followed by binge eating at some of the finer fast food establishments like Pizza Pit pizza, Famous Franks cheddar dogs and cheddar fries, “Belcher” burritos, Zorba’s gyros..and more fries. The list goes on. Throw in some poor food choices at University cafeteria and a late evening bowl of Babcock Hall’s finest ice cream. Top that off with endless supplies of free Lowenbrau shorties (7oz), courtesy my dorm-mate, and I had formed the blueprint for reeking havoc on my body. “Freshman 15,” became my reality – I weighed 167lbs once Christmas arrived that year and the weight never came off.

In an attempt to rectify the situation, I spent endless hours in the gym. Benching, squatting, using those silly “leg extension” and hamstring curl machines (please forgive me). Let’s not forget the concentration curls in front of the mirror! Vanity at its finest. Months turned to years, and the weight gradually went up. Working in an office/cubicle didn’t help. I’d wake up to sit in a car, to go sit at my desk at work, only to sit on the bus back home, so that I could “relax,” at home..by sitting down. Don’t get me wrong, I stayed active at 24hr Fitness. This went on for 24 more years until a little after my third..and FINAL, son was born. Time was now an even greater and precious commodity. “Q” was born one day after my 40th birthday. I quickly did the math..when I was 80, he would be 40. I wanted to give myself the best chance at making that happen, to enjoy as many days on this planet with my little men. More importantly, I wanted to be able to “compete” with them for as long as I could..and I’m hoping that will be for many years to come.

The perfect tool (for me) appeared before me eyes – the kettlebell. It lends itself very well to a busy family life. The ability to take it anywhere is one of its magical qualities. Some of my fondest memories are swinging amoungst the redwoods, on the sandy beaches of Monterey Bay, in my backyard with hummingbirds darting about, and at 9K elevation in Tuolumne Meadows (Yosemite) for a fabulous pressing session. This would be the ticket for longevity.

Double kettlebells have now become the preference. Twice the weight, twice the results, in half the time. Probably not a very scientific explanation, but that is how if feels to me right now. This is also somewhat of a recent development. While I was tasked with double 24’s for my tests at RKC-Chicago, I never attempted a program implementing two bells. My first stab at it was Patrick Flynn’s – Prometheus Protocol. The more I read about Patrick’s own transformation, the more I liked him and it gave me hope that I could make a similar transformation. Not only that, but I had access to a great group of people at SOL Performance. People to share my passion with and finally a routine that started to chisel away at the excess.

I’m not sure how we stumbled upon Geoff Neupert’s Kettlebell Muscle. I think a big part was a brief meeting I had with Oakland’s own Iron Maiden, Asha Wagner. She was three weeks into Kettlebell Muscle and was raving about it.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Her NS6 logo struck a chord with me. I loved all the reasons why she created this logo, right down to the California star. I was born on the 6th, so that number is forever mine. Learning, growth, and improvement will forever be the philosophy moving forward. This is RKC Karma at it’s finest. So Kettlebell Muscle it is..for the next 12 weeks. I now weigh in at 178lbs – down 17 lbs from my all-time high. To be continued….