I’m not giving up; just been busy

Posted in Kayaking, Uncategorized on August 29, 2016 by mistransformation

No, I haven’t given up on my blog.  I actually had an epic vacation a few weeks ago and I want to blog about that and a few other things.  I can’t wait to tell you about it.

I’ve just been really busy and taking advantage of the long summer days that are now getting shorter and shorter every day.

Here’s a teaser:

I will be back….promise.

Injured but making the most of it

Posted in hiking, Kayaking with tags , , , , on July 12, 2016 by mistransformation

I have been suffering with my latest bout of Plantar Fasciitis since before I visited Kripalu Yoga and Health Center back in April. As you know from my previous post, I did two moderate hikes during my stay at that facility.  I continued to do some pretty major  hikes after that and didn’t listen to my foot when it was telling me it had had enough.  I maintained pretty much the same activity that I always had and in fact I was doing a lot more all while my foot was screaming at me in agony.  Over the Fourth of July holiday, it finally said it had enough and I could barely walk at all without my foot feeling like it was ripping apart.  It was probably one of the most miserable 4ths that I’ve ever had (except that I visited my family).

I’ve been suffering to some degree of PF since I was a teenager so I’ve been treating it on my own and even though in the past it always went away with minimal attention, this time I have done just about everything under the sun for it.  I have to say that the night boot, icing, alternate temperature footbaths and taping have been my saving grace.

As of today, I am ambulatory but still unable to go for even a minor hike (I know, I tried a baby path last weekend to no avail).  I feel like I’m missing out on the best weeks of hiking so  I did a couple of kayak trips instead. It keeps me off of my feet, but still lets me enjoy the outdoors.  I have to say that I have really enjoyed kayaking.

Here are a few pictures of hikes I have done and also from the kayak trips. If you click on them, it gives a title of where the picture was taken.  One of the most interesting is from Hawk Rock, Cove Mountain, Duncannon, PA because it is on the Appalachian Trail and any East Coast hiker would be intrigued to follow in the footsteps of the thru-hikers of the AT.

Body Beast-Beast Up: Legs w/ Sagi Kalev Workout Review

Posted in Health/Fitness, Review with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2016 by mistransformation


If you are a member of Beachbody OnDemand you probably know by now that Sagi Kalev released two new workouts from the Body Beast program. They are exclusive to Beachbody OnDemand.  If you have done them already, you know they are killer and if you haven’t done them already, you are in for a treat.

For this workout you are going to need a large variety of dumbbells and if you have one an EZ curl bar.  If you don’t have an EZ curl bar you can always modify and this workout does have a modifier.  You will also need a bench and if you don’t have one, I’m sure you can figure out how to improvise.

The workout is 45 minutes long.

Beast Up: Legs starts out with a thorough warm up.  This is something I felt was lacking in the Hammer workouts but this has a five minute warm up.

Parallel Squats: Rep Counts:  12 – 10 – 8 – 6 -6 – 8  –  You want to start off with a lighter weight then move to medium and on to heavy.  For the 6 rep count you use a super heavy weight for both 6 counts and then go back down to heavy.

Split Squat w/ EZ Curl Bar: (Left then Right) – 7 reps for 7 sets with a 10 count hold at the bottom between sets.  The hold is your rest.  Complete all on left first and then move to the right.  You may keep the same weight throughout.  Make sure it isn’t that heavy.  This one sneaks up on you.

Superset:   You do both moves before decreasing in the rep count.

Partial Sumo:  Rep Counts:  12 – 10 – 8   (Partial because you do not come up all the way)

Bulgarian Split Squat:  Rep Counts:  12 – 10 – 8

You want to start with lighter weight for the 12 reps – medium for the 10 and heavy for the 8 reps.

(end of superset)

Single Leg Deadlift: (Left then Right) – 7 reps for 7 sets with a 10 second hold at the top between sets.   Complete all on left first and then move to the right. You may keep the same weight for all 7 sets.  Oh yeah, this one is a motherchucker!

Glute Bridge with Calf Raise: 60 secs –  45 Secs – 30 Secs  – Starting with lighter weight for the 60 seconds, medium for 45 seconds and heavy for 30 seconds.  Sagi calls this a superset but the move is really one continuous move in my opinion.  You just fluidly do a calf raise after each bridge.

There is a nice stretch at the end to get the nooks and crannies you just worked.

As you can see there aren’t a lot of moves.  You get a lot of rest periods not only between movements but also between sets – especially when moving up to the super heavy weight.  I think the rest periods help the workout go by fast.

I give this workout 5 out of 5 stars because it really gets the job done.


Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health Part Deux

Posted in hiking, Kripalu, Motivation/Inspiration, Yoga with tags , , on May 1, 2016 by mistransformation

Ever since my visit in August 2015 I could not wait for a second trip back to Kripalu. After I read the book Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope, a Kripalu instructor that’s history with the facility goes back to the days when Kripalu was still an ashram and during the dramatic years when Amrit Desai led the ashram. Stephen really went into detail about how that “went down” and you’ll have to read the book yourself or google it to find out about it.

Anyway in his book Stephen mentioned different places he and his friend would visit on hikes, etc.  He also mentioned the old mansion that used to sit on the lands that had some interesting history such as Andrew Carnegie finished out his last days there and the Jesuit Monk facility had actually started out in that mansion but burned down one day in March in the 1950s.  Some of the monks died in the fire. Some of the ruins are still on the property.  After discovering that I had missed a lot of the facility during my first visit, I wanted to go back and experience it again.


Monk’s Pond was a place that Stephen had mentioned in his book.  I had seen pictures on the internet and wanted to visit it myself during my stay.  You have to hike away from the facility to get to it and since I’m not from that area I wanted to make sure I knew how to get to it.  I googled Monks Pond and came across a blog of a visitor to Kripalu just a few months before my visit.  The blogger talked about her personal struggles in life and after reading her blog post I knew that I definitely wanted to visit it during my stay.

You can read the blog post here:  The Hike

It was a long 6 hour drive from North Central Pennsylvania (with stops along the way) to Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  The first day Josie and I did a nice Intermediate level yoga class, ate dinner and then I went on my own way and explored the grounds.   It was raining when we first arrived so later that day when I took pictures, there is a lot of mist in the photos.

I explored the grounds and came up the ruins of the old Shadowbrook mansion.  The remains of some of the foundation are truly impressive and show the the massive size that the mansion was before the fire.  The history of the mansion is truly interesting and if you would like to read about it and also view pictures of how it once was, please see this link. Shadowbrook Fire  — I should note, the picture of the tree above is the famous camperdown elm that sits to the front of the old mansion ruins. The other picture of the rock formation and the view from above when I was sitting on the rock ledge. All of this is in the area of the ruins.

After exploring the grounds, I did a yoga nidra class, went to the sunroom to read for the night and then went to bed.  I had my silent alarm set to 5 am to wake up and get a shower and did the 6:30 am gentle yoga class led by Sherri Howard, Kripalu yoga teacher.  The class was amazing.  It was a great class for waking up and during savasana Sherri began to sing and she had this beautiful voice which I overheard another class attendee describe as magical.

After eating silent breakfast, I attended a lecture by the famous Kripalu instructor Coby Kozlowski.  It was an amazing lecture where Coby talked about modern day yoga as compared to the ancient practice and how we can tie it into our lives today.  It was very uplifting and inspirational.

After the lecture I got ready for my hike to Monks Pond.  The path starts on the Kripalu facility and you hike up the side of the mountain to the main road, cross to where there is a gate and then follow Old Baldhead Road to the pond.  Once at the pond I decided I wasn’t finished hiking and I crossed to where there is a crossroad path and you can choose right or left.  I chose to go right, hiked for about 30 minutes more through the beautiful Berkshires and then hiked back to the facility.  Here are some pictures to get an idea.

After Monks Pond I made my way back to the facility, ate lunch and then went out to explore the grounds again.  I made my way to Swami Kripalu’s Meditation Garden and a few other gems located along the way including a maple syrup harvesting operation (pic of the trees w/ blue tubing).

I also visited the beautiful lake and labyrinth as I did during my last trip.

After a long day of exploring I felt that my body needed the late afternoon gentle yoga class.  That was led by another popular teacher at Kripalu, Michelle Dalbec.  It was a nice way to stretch my legs out and relax after all the walking I did that day. My fitbit was busy and I think I registered about 22,000 steps that day.

After the class, I ate dinner and then somewhere along the way Josie and I met up to go to the Saturday night show that Kripalu offers.  Tonight’s show was by amazing artist, Morley.  Since Prince had just passed away days before, she started the show with a great cover of an almost unknown Prince tune, Free.  She performed acoustically, accompanied by a percussionist/bassist.  Morley talked between songs and wow she has done some amazing and impressive things worldwide in connection with human rights. I could probably write a post on her alone. (Can’t take pictures for that folks, sorry – electronic use is limited inside of Kripalu.)

After the show, I went to the sunroom again to read and then called it a night as I was very tired from hiking all day.

The next day, I slept through my 5 am silent alarm but some noise woke me up at 5:30 so I showered and got ready for the 6:30 am gentle yoga class.  This was the same teacher I had last visit and also on a Sunday.  After class I ate a good breakfast and then headed out for the day.  Once again I decided it was another hiking day.  I did not plan to go all the way to Olivia’s Overlook (which I visited by car last visit) but at the last minute I wondered if I had enough time to try it so I walked along with cup of coffee in my hand.  When I made it to a crossroad in the path you could choose left or right.  I chose left and ran into some women along the trail. I asked them how much further to the overlook and they told me it would have been shorter if I had chosen going to the right direction.  I wasn’t that far up the path so I turned around and took that way instead.  Boy was I happy.  It was a lot of uphill hiking from that point on but it wasn’t that much further and I made it to Olivia’s Overlook.

After hiking it was time to pack up my things and get ready to leave later that day.  I relaxed on the property until I met up with Josie for lunch.  One of the last things I viewed before going in for lunch was a mantra rock left behind by a previous visitor.  It read, “Every Day Should Feel This Good.”  That pretty much summed up my trip to Kripalu.  I wish every day could feel this good.

After lunch Josie and I went to the mansion ruins so she could view them and then we started on our way home.  It was a short stay but a memorable one for sure.  I have a funny story to tell.  After my gentle yoga class on Saturday I went to the cafe for coffee, I saw a man coming out of the corner of my eye and I was fearful he was going to try to jump ahead of me.  Then as I was getting my coffee I felt as though he was rushing me.  I didn’t say anything but went to pay for my coffee and then I heard the man talking to one of the workers at the cafe.  I looked over and it was none other than Bryan Kest.  THE Bryan Kest.  He had been standing behind me in line at the cafe.  Josie was taking his program.  Anybody into yoga knows that Bryan Kest is a yoga rock star and if I had known it was him in line behind me, I would have let him get his coffee first for sure.

Anyway, that was my second visit to Kripalu and another fantastic time for sure.

The Master’s Hammer & Chisel-Iso Strength Chisel w/ Autumn Calabrese Workout Review

Posted in Health/Fitness, Review, Workout review with tags , , , on April 1, 2016 by mistransformation


Today might be April Fool’s Day but Iso Strength Chisel is no joke!

For this workout you will need a few sets of dumbbells. A moderate weight is good and you will also need a lighter dumbbell for the last move.  You will also need a bench, a pullup bar and a band (if you need to modify).

The rep count for this workout is the same for each move.  You do a set of 10 reps and after you release the 10th rep you hold the next rep for 10 seconds and start back up for 10 more reps.  You do not get a rest after the iso hold.   You do three sets of this total.  I call it 10 x 10 x 3 for shorthand.   As per usual, if you do a move on one side, you do the total number of sets on that side before you move on to the other side.   There is a quick stretch between moves.

The moves (after Autumn’s typical warm up for her Chisel workouts):

Sumo squat

Full range pushups

Bulgarian split squat (L/R)

Pullups or use the band w/ attachment to modify

Step up with side hold (L/R)

One-arm row on bench (L/R)

Sit-up C-curve hold (w/ light dumbbell)

Lateral raises

The workout ends with a stretch for the lateral raises and then a quick inhale stretch and that’s it.  That is always disappointing to me but I just went on to do my own stretch after the workout.

This workout is a butt burner for sure. I’m sure I’ll remember the Bulgarian split squat tomorrow.

The moves weren’t really innovative and there are other workouts with iso holds but not having any rest between sets was really fatiguing.  I’m sure this is the technique that leads to being chiseled.

I’d give the workout 3 3/4 stars out of 5.  The lack of stretch at the end really disappoints me.


Another R&R at Kripalu Coming Up: Stay Tuned

Posted in Kripalu, labyrinth, Motivation/Inspiration, Qigong, Stress Relief, Yoga with tags , , on March 31, 2016 by mistransformation


Followers of my blog will know I went to visit the world-renowned Kripalu Yoga and Health Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts last August.  I am lucky enough to have another visit booked in a few weeks.  I have been excited to go back ever since I left last year.

I will blog about it after my visit for sure.

The Master’s Hammer & Chisel – Total Body Hammer w/ Sagi Kalev

Posted in Health/Fitness, Review of Product, Workout review with tags , , , on March 13, 2016 by mistransformation


One of the first sneak peaks we had was Autumn’s Total Body Chisel and now on Beachbody OnDemand we got to taste Sagi’s Total Body Hammer. This is a nice simple set up of basic lifting exercises done in a pyramid format that packs a bit of a punch.

You will need a couple of sets of dumbbells tailored to your needs, a pullup bar or a band if you don’t have one, a bench or a ball if you don’t have a bench.  You can also do the chest exercises on the floor.

The warm up is the same warm up that Sagi does in most of his other Hammer workouts.

There are three rounds total with three separate exercises.  Each round is completed two times.   Each exercise is completed in a pyramid format of 10 reps, 8 reps and then 6 reps. You complete all 3 pyramids before going on to the next exercise.   The second set really allows you to go up in weight if you didn’t get it right the first time (perhaps go down too).

Round One 

Bench Press (10/8/6 reps)

Squat (10/8/6 reps)

Reverse Grip Row (10/8/6 reps)

(remember I said you do this again)

Round Two 

Incline Flys (10/8/6 reps)

Reverse Lunge (you do one leg and get the opposite leg on set two) (10/8/6 reps)

Wide pullups or wide band pulls (10/8/6 reps)


Round Three 

Seated Military Press

Split Squat (you do one leg and get the opposite leg on set two) (10/8/6 reps)

Posterior Delt Fly (one arm at a time, getting the other arm on set 2) (10/8/6 reps)


I felt that Sagi’s cool down while still only 3 minutes long, was a bit more thorough than most of Autumn’s which sometimes aren’t even 2 minutes long.

When you get your correct weights, I really feel that this workout can get you winded and by the end you will feel like you got a great workout.  One thing I didn’t like was Sagi picking on the gentleman in the video because of his weight selection.  We all can’t press 70 pounds like Sagi.  I know that’s his Beast persona but I worry someone may go too heavy and rip their shoulder.  So keep that in mind. We aren’t all professional bodybuilders.

Solid 4 out of 5 stars.