Tag Archives: kettlebells

Pregnancy challenges – 22 weeks

One of the themes that’s developed as I’ve written this blog has been dealing with the unexpected challenges and setbacks that are a part of being active in the outdoors (and a part of life in general). Whether those come in the form of mental blocks like fear or pushing outside of my comfort zone, or in the form of physical setbacks such as injury or ability or weather. We all have dreams and goals and ideas about how we want things to go. When something gets in the way of those, we sometimes learn more about ourselves than when everything goes perfectly. I think about that quite a bit, and so I write about it quite a bit.  Sometimes the story ends with pushing through fear or discomfort to accomplish my goals, sometimes it ends with changing plans or backing down instead. No matter the outcome, I always grow as a person. Every time.

When the situation is one in which I can’t do the things I want to, I refer back to wise words from my kettlebells instructor:

Focus on what you *can* do, not on what you can’t.

20 weeks

Me at about 20 weeks

As of writing this, I’m 22 weeks pregnant (right around 5 months), and this pregnancy is turning out to be a lesson in exactly that. Focusing on what I *can* do.

For years I’ve followed adventurous and active women who have chosen to start families. They have awed and amazed me, and helped me to believe that I could do it, too. That if I have a child I won’t have to hole up in my house and never see a piece of rock again. It’s just not true, and these women have showed me that time and again.

Many women are able to stay active throughout their pregnancies, continuing their activities with adjustments along the way. I’m grateful to women who have written about their experiences for all to see.  Erica Lineberry has had two children now. With both, she climbed hard throughout her entire pregnancies. Michelle Kobzick was ice climbing in her pregnancy harness all winter last year. Amanda Mary Perry owns a gym in Boston and just had her second baby. She made adjustments to her fitness routine, but was rocking pull-ups until the very end. I’ve watched women in my own life do the same thing. Women 9 months pregnant kicking butt at the climbing gym. And just this last year I got to see a woman in my kettlebells class train throughout her entire pregnancy. It was awesome.

I’m pretty active. I love to climb, and I love my 3x/week kettlebell classes. Both challenge me mentally and physically and have become anchors in a somewhat hectic life. As soon as I had some confidence that this baby was going to stick around, I ordered a maternity climbing harness. My plan was to climb until the baby popped out, and to keep my kettlebells training up as well.

But then there are those setbacks. The unexpected ones that don’t fit into the arbitrary goals that we set for ourselves. Mine? Pregnancy related pelvic instability that suddenly made climbing really painful. This happened sometime around 17 weeks. One week I was working on my 5.11c project at the gym, and the next week I couldn’t climb a 5.6 without a lot of pain. I thought I had injured myself somehow, but later found out that it’s very much pregnancy related, something that happens to some women, but not all. Although I can mitigate the discomfort, things probably won’t fully stabilize until I have this baby. My dreams of climbing right up until the end just went *poof*.

As far as my workouts go, I had to stop doing about half of the movements that are a regular part of our classes. They were just too painful. I knew I would have to make adjustments along the way, but never imagined the adjustments would be so dramatic so early on.

So, back to the motto: “Focus on what you *can* do, not what you can’t.” Another lesson, for me, in being flexible and adjusting my plans and expectations based on the current situation. That’s definitely not something that’s ever come naturally for me, but it’s a skill that climbing and physical training has been teaching me over the years. I’m much better at it than I used to be.

I had to reevaluate. Ask myself *why* it’s so important to me to keep climbing and training throughout my pregnancy. Turns out that the most important thing for me is staying active and feeling strong (which are good for both me and my baby). With a bit of creativity, I can still do that. I’ve made a list of movements that don’t cause any pain and my kettlebells instructor has developed a training plan for me that uses only those movements. Three times a week I can still get my heart rate up and a good sweat going. I can still lift bells above my head, I can still do push-ups and swings and cleans and snatches and planks and deadlifts. I’m able to stay active and feel strong.

New trellis for the garden

New trellis for the garden

So there’s lots that I *can* do, despite the things that have been crossed off the list. I’m keeping up some level of fitness even though my body isn’t working exactly how I’d like it to and that is awesome. Without climbing this summer, I have a little more free time, too, which I’m enjoying quite a bit. I’m a homebody at heart, and not pushing myself outside of my comfort zone feels totally fine right now. Maybe I’m not out having a bunch of great adventures, but I did build a pretty sweet trellis for my spaghetti squash yesterday.

I’m pretty amazed at what my body is doing right now. It’s incredible that it inherently knows how to grow a human being. The little one is already moving around enough for me to be able to visibly see my stomach moving. It’s weird and cool all at the same time that there’s another person in there. And at the end of this whole thing, that little person will be joining our family. Definitely worth a little discomfort and time away from the climbing walls.


I Did That! A Reverse Bucket List

Last week, Katie of Adventure Inspired wrote up her reverse bucket list, a list that looks back at things she *has* accomplished, instead of only looking forward. I loved the idea so much that I decided to write up one of my own. What a great way to reflect on the awesome things that I’ve done, and create a nice springboard from which to do even *more* awesome stuff! Here’s mine:

  • Climb: When I was a kid I could always be found up in the sycamore tree in our backyard. There was a perfect spot to hang out and read a book, or look out around the neighborhood. Now I’m climbing rock (and plastic) instead. Climbing is fun, it’s challenging, and it keeps me growing as a person. It takes me to beautiful places, both locally and around the country, and I’ve met some great people. Climbing has changed me for the better.

  • Play in a professional orchestra: I studied bassoon seriously for a good portion of my life. I’ve performed with full orchestras, chamber groups, and in solo recitals, and worked freelance on a semi-professional level for several years. One of the high points was playing a few concerts with the Akron Symphony Orchestra in Akron, OH. I got to play some of my favorite repertoire with a fantastic group of musicians. It was magical.
  • Get paid to travel: While playing bassoon, I got paid to play in orchestras in the Cayman Islands and Monterrey, Mexico. All travel expenses included.
  • Move across the country on my own: I moved to Minnesota, leaving friends and family behind, and not knowing a soul in my new home. It was scary, but I did it, and now I feel that I could move anywhere and be ok (although Minnesota is pretty rad, so no immediate plans).
  • IMG_1292Build my own bicycle: With some help, I took my dad’s old steel ten-speed, stripped it down to the frame, repainted it, and rebuilt it as a single speed. I love this bike, and I love it even more knowing that I built it myself. I now can do most repairs on my own when I need to. Fun fact: my bike was recently used in a Columbia Sportswear photo shoot.
  • Take a trapeze lesson: I had a day on my own in L.A. a few years back, and decided to take a flying trapeze lesson on the Santa Monica Pier. Lots of fun.

She flies through the air….

  • Learn to garden: My mom has a green thumb, which I did not inherit. But, the past few years I’ve been experimenting with growing my own vegetables. There have been successes and miserable failures, but each year I learn a little bit more. Last year I started some seeds indoors and grew my own seedlings to plant outside! It’s great fun, and I have big plans, already, for the upcoming season.
  • Climb a mountain: Actually climb, with ropes and equipment. I climbed the Grand Teton with my husband this past summer and it was so very, very cool. Definitely one of my life’s highlights to date.
Nearing the summit of the Grand Teton. Photo: Greg Duncan

Nearing the summit of the Grand Teton. Photo: Greg Duncan

  • _MG_0392

    My hand-knit hiking sweater

    Knit a sweater: I learned to knit about five years ago from a good friend, and before I knew it I was beyond hats and on to knitting socks that I actually wear on my feet. I’ve knit myself a hiking sweater and a vest that I wear constantly, and right now I’m in the midst of knitting a kick-ass sweater for my husband. I’m ridiculously proud to be able to say that I knit things like sweaters.

  • Drive a Tractor: I was on a farm, there was a tractor, and I ended up driving it. True story
  • Be physically strong: After four years of climbing and two years of consistent kettlebell training, I can say that I am strong. I can snatch a 16kg kettlebell and climbed across the ceiling again last night at the gym. I’ve learned to do pull-ups this year, and am working up to 3000 pull-ups with my husband.  Ladies, if you’ve never done any strength training, I highly recommend it. The feeling of strength is empowering (and you don’t have the testosterone in your body to get bulky).
  • Bike through Yellowstone: Seth and I rented bikes and rode 34 miles round trip to Old Faithful and back to our car. We cautiously passed a herd of buffalo standing at the side of the road, complete with frolicking baby buffalo.


    A cold ride through the plains of Yellowstone.

  • Overcome my fear of flying: I once got to a flight gate, turned around, and went back home, because I couldn’t will myself to get on the airplane. While I still have to use some tricks, I can fly when I need to and not have it completely ruin my day. I love to travel, so it’s something I’m glad I’ve been able to deal with!
  • IMG_1039Learn to Cross-Country Ski: Minnesota has taught me that when the winters are long and cold, it’s best not to stay locked indoors. When I get out and enjoy the snow, my sanity remains intact.
  • Write on the interwebs: This blog is small, and it has a only a modest amount of readers, but I know that some of my posts have had positive effects on people. Whether it’s inspiration, or just creating stoke for their own adventures, I love to be able to connect with people, even if in a small way. Here are some of my favorite posts.
  • 2012_11_06_02324Find a fairy tale relationship: A little sap to throw in here…. I got married in my 30s, so I went through enough relationships that didn’t quite work to realize what a gem I have now (turns out love is *not* all you need. Sorry, Beatles). My husband is the kind of man I’ve always dreamed of having in my life, and I am thankful for him every day. Not only do I have a great man in my life, but together we make a great team. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
  • Learn to play in the outdoors: I have *always* wanted to go camping and hiking and frolic in the great outdoors. But, for some reason, it just never quite happened. I blame the many hours a day chained to a practice room in my former life, but the truth is I just never made it happen. In the past few years, I’ve camped and hiked more than I had probably in my entire life before that, and I love it. Love it, love it, love it.

That was a fun exercise! Thanks to Katie for the idea. What’s on *your* reverse bucket list?


Kettlebells in the Park

We didn’t make it to our regular Tuesday evening kettlebells class last night. So, Seth and I grabbed the bells we have at the house and walked over to the neighborhood park for our own workout.

I’ve always loved the *idea* of swinging outside, and doing my own workout, but I’ve avoided it because I was self-conscious. Turns out, nobody really cared. We found our own little spot and weren’t bothered by anyone. And we got to enjoy the beautiful fall evening while we were at it. Continue reading

Kettlebells Love. Climbing Love.

I would like to take a moment to tell you, once again, how much I love climbing, and how much I love kettlebells. Feel free to stop reading now, because you’ve heard me say it before. Quite a few times.

Photo: Hennepin County Public Affairs

I ended up doing a little self-experiment this week. Within three days, I went climbing three times (twice one day), and did two kettlebells workouts. One of my friends wanted to climb a few extra days this week, so I said “sure!” It all sounded fun, and it felt like a bit of a challenge.

A few rest days are now in order, but it was a lot of fun. And I was reminded, once again, how much I love climbing. And how much I love kettlebells. Continue reading

Finding My Inner Athlete

One of the main proponents of “Hardstyle” Russian Kettlebells is that strength is a skill. It’s more than just building strong muscles, it’s learning how to coordinate those muscles to do that press, that squat, that pull-up, etc. Strength is a skill. It can be learned.

I am reminded of an article I read recently in Psychology Today titled “The Trouble With Bright Girls.” It was an interesting read. I’m not sure I agree with all of it, but the part that really struck me was this:

bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.

As a former ‘bright girl,’ I was used to many things being easy for me. I was good at school, especially math and science. I was a good musician. These things came easily for me, so I pursued them. On the other hand, I wasn’t good at history or geography. I wasn’t a great reader. And I definitely believed that I was innately good at some things and not others, and accepted that that’s just the way things were. Continue reading

Weighing In

There are a lot of great stories about people experiencing significant body transformations as a result of kettlebell training. Most of those stories are about fat loss. Tracy Reifkind, for example, lost 100 pounds when she started swinging and changed her diet (she shares her journey in her new book “The Swing!“). Others have similar stories, if less dramatic. If you’ve got some extra fat, kettlebells is a tool that can help shed some pounds. Done correctly, it’s a great combo of cardio and strength training all wrapped up together in one tidy package.

Dragon Door Kettlebells in Three Sizes Weight loss isn’t the only possible outcome, though. Within two months of beginning kettlebell training, I actually gained 5 pounds. More than a year later, I stepped on the scale to find that I’ve gained nearly 10 pounds since I began training. I weigh more now than I ever have, and I have only the kettlebells to blame.

Continue reading

Kettlebells: One Year In

This month marks my one year anniversary with kettlebells. Yay! To mark the occasion, here’s a little write-up about my first year of kettlebell training.

Before kettlebells, I had never really done any type of strength training. I experimented with a few barbells and machines here and there, but I always got bored and never lasted more than a few sessions. Last year I decided that I wanted to be a stronger climber, so I started seeking out options and decided to see what kettlebells were all about.

I found a class (with an RKC certified instructor) and was hooked almost immediately. Initially, I started training to better my climbing, but kettlebell training has carved out its own space in my life. Here is why:

Continue reading

Staying Healthy when Life Gets Weird

The blog’s been a bit quieter than usual lately. Mostly because I’ve been quieter than usual in general. I’m in the midst of a nine-month stint of overnight shifts, and my usual hermit tendencies have been amplified as a result. Numerous studies have been done on the physical effects of working at night and sleeping during the day. In addition to affecting amount and quality of sleep, it affects hormone production and very basic things about the way the body functions.

In response, I’ve been making a very conscious effort to maintain my health physically and mentally. This is always important, no matter what my situation is, but when there’s an extra item in the negative column working against me, it seems even more so.

So, here’s what I’ve been focusing on:

Continue reading

Why I Train

Every day we are bombarded with messages that exercise is about looking good. In magazines, commercials, etc. Get flatter abs, sexier legs, rockstar arms, a killer butt. Just by doing [enter specific exercise here]. It’s not about fitness, it’s about having the perfect body. Whatever that means.

A healthy body lets me see places like this (Upper Yosemite Falls Trail)

The perfect body is an illusion. No matter what you do, someone’s going to think you’re too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, too muscular, etc. etc. That’s the world we live in. The perfect body doesn’t exist. So why spend energy chasing after it?

I don’t train to look good, or to gain some elusive perfect body. I train for fitness.

  • I train to be prepared for whatever comes my way, at any time.
  • I train to keep my body healthy.
  • I train because it makes me feel good.
  • I train for good mental health.
  • I train because I love feeling strong.
  • I train to be ready for adventure!

I only have one body, and it makes sense to me to keep it in the best working order I can, so that it stays functional for a long time to come. I want to be ready for anything, and not have my fitness level be a limitation.It’s been eight months since I began training with kettlebells. In that short time, I’m in the best cardiovascular shape I’ve ever been in, and my body feels healthy and strong. The way that I feel is the best motivation I can think of for keeping it up.

I’m training for fitness, not looks. A healthy body will look good no matter what shape it is.

Kettlebells: First Impressions

I am a self-described late-blooming athlete. When I was 30, I discovered climbing. It felt good to find something that was fun and exercise at the same time. Once I started feeling the benefits of the exercise part of it, I wanted to do more. I began commuting by bike a lot more. I started adding cardio to my gym sessions. And eventually, I decided that I wanted to give kettlebells a try.

My very own bells!

I put it off because I was intimidated. I had this picture in my head of a room full of over-muscled guys throwing bells and testosterone around the gym. Luckily, I was wrong. In January I went to a studio that came highly recommended by a friend. It turned out that the classes were mostly female, the men were regular guys, and everyone was pretty cool. Continue reading