Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to Manage Emotional Eating

by Kris Pitcher

I'm not at all phased by the pizza, cupcakes, or the lone Costco muffin left in the break room at work. There are also Oreo cookies and other snack items for the taking, available ALL THE TIME.

In my twenty-fifth year of successful personal weight management, I see food differently. My lens is focused on my goals and my values. Most importantly, my vision is conscientious. We get in trouble when we put our blinders on.

What I mean is, food should be a deliberate choice rather than an emotion which overcomes us, leading us into the depths of a binge. The American culture is heavily infused with emotional eating. We celebrate our very first birthday as onlookers cheer as we smash our cake covering ourselves with it. The Cake Smash.

Left to my emotions I would be elbow deep in a bag of chips. So, how can I simply walk past the beautifully iced cupcakes in the break room? Easy. I'm connected to my goals. I'm aware of my choices. Success begins with emotional management.

While some might argue I'm a cold-hearted fill-in-the-blank, I am an emotional person. I'm also good at managing my stress, and controlling what I can control. Did you know you are in control of how you respond to things?

You are! This just may be the secret sauce to managing your emotions. Social media is full of posts spewing on and on about how upset people are over this or that. Reel it in people. What is really affecting you in your life? And what do you have control over?

Allowing external events, people, things...you name it, to cause a reaction leading you to eat your emotions is self sabotage at its best. Being in control of your reactions takes recognition of a situation, knowing what your options are, and choosing one.

If emotional eating is eating you up, it's time to stop and take a breath. It's time to think about situations and choose your reaction. This is how you manage your emotions, and your emotional eating. Be present. This means being aware of what is going on around you.

Awareness is key to thinking through solutions, and making a choice. Everything we do is a choice. Each choice we make has consequences. Our food choices are no different. Whether we over eat, don't eat, eat the wrong things...all choices with consequences. But don't blame everything "out there".

Begin to assess your surroundings, your situation, and the events you find yourself in. Stop and think about your choices. Which choice aligns with your goals? Be present and make a conscious choice. Take your blinders off and deal with, and manage, your emotions.

Take a deep breath and clear your vision. The choice is yours!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Compliance and Physique Competition

by Kris Pitcher

noun | com-pli-ance | the act or process of complying to a desire, demand, proposal, or regimen

I've often heard over the years, "I wish I had your self control." It's not really self control that I have, it's compliance. I'd like to have all the foods the rest of the world eats, but the truth is...I'm working toward a different physique.

With that, I have a coach who lays out a plan for me. I follow my plan. I am compliant. It's very simple. Truth be told, nothing in this sport is really all that simple, and neither is compliance.

You see, I must be compliant because my genetics are just average. I need every bit of every minute I spend both in prep and off season to make the changes necessary. All of it. I don't have the luxury of being able to kind of follow my plan, or to cheat now and then. My genetics simply don't allow it.

Now, for all you cheaters, and those of you who take your plan as a "guideline"...you can get by because of your genetics. Your coach usually knows when you aren't exactly on plan, but you're making it really hard for them. 

You might even do well competing as a non-compliant client. I'm wondering though, how well would you do if you did comply? Where could you take yourself in this sport if you just buckled down and did the work? All of the work. 

Compliance to your plan is the only way your coach knows if your plan is working. When you aren't in compliance, you aren't doing your plan. And if you aren't doing your plan...we might as well just throw darts at a board to make decisions about you.

It's a misconception that you can be non-compliant and still make good progress. Sorry, but if you aren't doing your plan, your coach can't make a judgement about what to adjust. The first adjustment is, do your plan. Follow it to a "T". Then we can see if it works.

I would never advocate you comply with a ridiculous plan, or one that included foods you hate. A good coach can alter and provide you some choices so you can live with your plan. If you hate broccoli, by all means...there are A LOT of other vegetables to choose from. 

My strength in compliance comes from a place of self choice. I choose this lifestyle. I choose to eat the way I do. I choose to exercise. I choose this. No one is telling me to do it. Non-compliance usually comes from a place of either defiance, misinformation or mistrust.

My approach is to educate clients on why we are doing certain things at certain times and in certain combinations. Knowledge leads to compliance in my experience. My advice? Ask questions. If you are working with someone you trust, listen to them. Lean. Learn why you are doing things a certain way.

It's a challenge to have so much information at the tips of our fingers. Sifting through that information is a burden, it's conflicting and confusing. Let your coach be the guide. When you work with someone who has a background in nutritional science...they should be a good resource. If you are non-compliant because you don't like their methods, work with someone else.

If you are non-compliant because you feel like you "deserve" certain things, or are overcome with feelings of defiance when someone tells you what to do, dig deep and deal with those emotions. Get clear on your goals and values.

There is no will power, no self control. There is compliance and trust. And if you fall into the non-compliant category, well this sport may not be for you. Think about your daily routine, your habits and your attitude. Are you compliant?  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Constipation and Competition, Why You Can't Poop

by Kris Pitcher

I'm a producer, let's just start there. This blog is going to get personal. So, if you're not up for talking about your bowels...now is the time to bow out.

Bowel issues are very common not only among competitors, but general population as well. What's "normal"? Normal frequency varies from three times a day, to 2 times per week. If you are having less than 3 bowel movements a week, you're constipated.

There are as many causes to constipation as there are remedies. A few common ones include pregnancy, age, dehydration, low fiber diet, sedentary lifestyle, medications, over use of laxatives, stress, diabetes, thyroid disorders, stress...the list is long.

For women, the most common cause is hormones. Thank you menstruation. After ovulation, our progesterone levels increase and peak. The levels slowly decrease until it drops enough to trigger menstruation - the actual bleeding.

Not long ago, my husband and I had a conversation about this. He was flabbergasted (my word) that women know VERY little about something so consuming. He said, "If I was bleeding every month I'm pretty sure I would know everything there was to know about it." And he would. He knows more about it than most of us.

Progesterone delays the transit time of food, and we get stopped up. By the onset of menstruation, we are gassy, bloated, and you guessed it...constipated. Recall that this hormone is peaking about a week before we see blood.

This is usually when the texts come in from competitive clients, "I can't poop." Or, "I haven't pooped for 3 days." First response? Where are you in your cycle. Period.

There are some common ways to alleviate constipation. Using laxatives is the least desirable. Remember over use of laxatives can cause constipation, so you're in a circle on this one. Let's go over some better choices to remedy your issue.

Most of us are fairly active, but increasing activity is great. Ensuring we are getting a fiber rich diet is also important. We can increase our intake of magnesium citrate. Increasing water is also key. Ginger tea, or really any hot tea, helps to warm and relax the lower intestines. We can also increase our intake of vitamin C.

It's also thought that propping your feet up while sitting on the john will adjust the angle of your bowels and help get thing moving. There are actual devices for this (no, I don't have one).

On a regular basis (see what I did there?) we can take a pro-biotic to ensure good gut health. Usually, one or more of these remedies in combination will get you moving. And if your stop up is due to hormonal fluctuations, those will change, and you will go.

And when all else fails, there's always the last ditch effort...the enema. But, we can usually get things moving before we need to go that route. Well, you know what I mean. Now you know more about your bowels, what's normal, and how to get things moving when you're constipated. It happens, pretty much to everyone.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Life According to Plan

by Kris Pitcher

While spending a few days in regional team meetings, I've had the opportunity to hear leadership speak on a number of topics. Our division VP asked if anyone had ever had a situation where things didn't go as planned.

Umm. Yes! For example, all the time. Life doesn't necessarily go as planned. We have a certain idea of how things should go, will go...must go. But things don't always go that way, our way. Then what?

What's the difference between someone who excels and succeeds, and someone who lays down in defeat? The difference is simple. YOU are the difference. OK, it's a little more complicated than that. The difference is how you react to life's plan.

Things don't happen "to" you. They just happen. How we deal with them is our chosen reaction. So when things don't go according to plan, what do you do? How do you react?

Getting to any goal is dependent on your ability to problem solve. You must be able to take in new information, make an educated choice, and move ahead. Life is dynamic. It doesn't play out like a movie, or the fairy tale in our minds. It plays out how it plays out. We handle things as they come.

When you've planned to walk on the treadmill and you get to the gym to find they are all full what do you do? You can make a number of choices. You can panic, get back in your car and go home. You can stand behind someone and wait with steam rolling from your head until their done (awkward). You can choose a different mode for your cardio. You solve problems.

The way we react to life's "input" either makes us, or breaks us. Think about the most recent challenge you've faced. How did you react? Anger. Frustration. Stress. Are you playing a victim in your life? Or are you actively solving challenges to get to your success?

Very few things in life go "as planned". I could think of countless BIG life examples of things not going according to the plan in my mind. My ability to adapt, creatively solve problems, and think about potential solutions keeps me moving forward with a mindset of empowerment.

Quiet the drama around victimization by every tiny thing that isn't going your way. Choose a different perspective and things will actually begin to open up to you. In my experience, this is when life begins to go...according to plan.

Friday, March 24, 2017

My First NPC Competition, What to Expect Back Stage

by Kris Pitcher

The unknown makes us nervous. That's just how life works. Truth is 95% of what we worry about doesn't happen. Just this morning, I was anxious about asking my boss for something. I asked. He said "probably". That's a yes in my book. My point? I unnecessarily worried about all the possible unknowns.

As your first contest nears, I understand there are a lot of things you are thinking about. There are lots of unknowns you are worried about. One of the unknowns is...what will it be like back stage?

I've blogged about the things not to do back stage, like get in my safety circle. But I thought it only fair to share what to expect. While each show is different, much of what you'll experience back stage is a shared "phenomenon".

You've checked in, attended the competitor meeting, and tried to sleep. Now you wake up, get your hair and make up done and you are ready to head back stage and wait for prejudging to begin.

My BEST piece of advice? Be back stage. I know from experience that if you aren't there, no one is holding the show for you. You wouldn't want to do all this work and miss your class. Be where you are supposed to be. Don't be in the audience watching your friends. Don't be up in your room getting ready. Be. Back. Stage.

It's cramped and crowded back there. There may be a "ladies only" area for changing, and there may not. Wear your suit. Take what you need in your small bag, but don't take a giant purse, a roller carry on, cooler and a duffel bag. Think about making a small footprint back there.

Orient yourself to where the tanning company is. They will glue your suit, do any touch ups, and glaze you. Find the restroom. It may be a sani-can, or an actual bathroom. Know where it is.

You can look for an outlet, but often won't find one. Don't plan on plugging anything in. Anything. This means come with your hair done. The area will be covered in paper, or plastic so the promoter doesn't have hundreds of tanned people putting color everywhere.

Look for your expediters. They will have been introduced to you at the competitor meeting and it's good to keep your eye out for them. Their job is to call out which classes are coming up, who needs to line up, and ensure the line gets out on stage. While they may call your name/number multiple times...they will not hold the show up for you. Expedite, it's in the name.

Look for pump up equipment. There may be nothing. There may be weights and bands. It's a good idea to bring a band. Bring one you don't mind losing. There will also be mirrors. Lots of them. But know that you don't HAVE to pump up in front of a mirror. You know what you look like.

What will you see? You'll see lots of nervous energy translated into all kinds of behaviors. I once saw a gal literally pump up for five hours. FIVE! You will see people eating candy (sometimes off the floor), you'll see people drinking from tiny bottles of wine or alcohol. You will see all kinds of crazy.

Don't be crazy. Do what your coach has outlined for you. Which is, be where you are supposed to be, throw down a sweatshirt or towel, and rest. Follow whatever protocol they would like for you to do. Don't worry or wonder if you should be doing what you see others doing.

As the prejudging progresses, pay attention. About 3 classes before yours, you should have your shoes on, grab your band, and be in line with the tanning company to be glued, touched up and glazed. In that order. If you are in that line and you are a class F, and the class B is being called and girls are waiting behind you, wave the shorties ahead. Common courtesy prevails. Always.

Once glued and glazed. NO MORE BENDING DOWN. This means no grabbing for jewelry or lip gloss. You are now upright for the duration of prejudging. Get your band and pump up. Shoulders and back. That's pretty much it.

Sure, you'll see lunges, push-ups, glute lifts, abdominal crunches...but we really don't want blood rushing through those areas diminishing our sharpness. Keep your sharpness. Then, listen for the expediters.

They call your class to line up. You line up. Get in numerical order. Sometimes you're in the line up for a while, keep your band. Sometimes you have to be walked from one holding area to another area in the venue. Then you're out on stage!

It may be hot. It may be cold. Bring layers. It will be farty. Everyone carb loading and eating sugar can get pretty gassy. Just wait until finals. People are nice, mostly. Meet other competitors. You'll see big teams in a flock, and you'll see other people by themselves looking for help.

I always help other people, or invite them to my "safety circle". I can't help but take care of people, and I find others to be helpful too. We want you to have your number on the correct side (left), no tags sticking out, or lipstick on your teeth. We want you to look your best and have a good time...even if you aren't "mine".

Being back stage is a lot of hurry up and wait. Be prepared to kind of camp out. Have what you need in your bag. Don't worry about the unknowns, the maybe's or the what if's. Make friends, and enjoy the experience. It only happens for the first time once!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Water Basics, A Weighty Subject

by Kris Pitcher

Water can be a weighty subject. People have all kinds of ideas about water. Ideas about how much you should drink, when you should drink it, when you shouldn't drink it, and in physique sports...there is just so much to cover.

Let's start with some basics. The human body is about 60% water. Our brain and heart are 73% water. Water makes up 83% of our lungs. Skin, our bodies largest organ, is 64% water. Did you know your bones have water? Bones contain about 31% water. Finally, our muscles (and kidneys incidentally), are made up of 79% water.

People talk a lot about "water weight". "I'm retaining water." Or, "I'm bloated." Well, water is not only important, it's critical. Water is life.

How do we lose water? We lose water through exhalation, sweating, urination, and our bowel movements. All of our systems rely on water to function. You might be wondering, with all this water loss, how much should you drink?

The Institute of Medicine recommends 3.3 liters for men, and 2.2 liters for women. These are for average, healthy, adults in a temperate climate. If you are active "above average", and/or live in a warm or humid, or cold, climate, or at elevation...those recommendations go up.

Can you drink too much? Yes. Water toxicity is a condition that can kill you. Can you drink too little? Yes. Dehydration, even at it's mildest state causes headaches and fatigue. Take it too far and that heart of yours requiring 73% water, can't function. This will kill you too.

This is why athletes carry around their gallon jug, and work on that all day long. Larger people need more. Smaller people need less. It kills me when a 120 pound bikini competitor is pushing 3 gallons of water. Protocols for male bodybuilders don't apply to her. (That's another conversation.)

Understanding the basics, let's talk about how much water weighs. A gallon of water weighs eight pounds. Eight. We also take in water through our food, and other beverages we might have. I'm always perplexed at the end of the day when I see people weigh themselves at the gym. I'm presuming they've had plenty of water along with their meals. Not the time to weigh.

When you sweat, or sit in the sauna, or wrap yourself with something to make you sweat...you are losing water. Just water. Not anything else (like fat). And as soon as you replace the water, your cells will take in what they need to function. Sweating isn't the process by which we burn fat (that too is another conversation).

Our weight fluctuates day to day, during the day, with our hormonal cycles, partially as a result of this weighty issue of water. We are taking some in, expending some, it's a constant balancing act. One of the best things you can do is be consistent with your water intake.

Our bodies like consistency, and our hydration is no exception. Keep that 60% in mind as you work through your day to get your water in. Your body is 60% water. Muscles, 79% We need water. Your climate and activity level are factors to consider in determining how much you should drink.

Now you've gotten your feet wet with the basics of water. Water is your friend. Drink your water.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How To Win At Weight Management

by Kris Pitcher

"If I only had one tenth the discipline you have!"
"I sure admire your commitment."
"How do you stay on track at these meetings?"
"Still bringing all your food, I see."
"Wow! You have will power!"

These are all things I've heard people say over the past few weeks. When I'm in meetings, at conferences, or even in donor visits...people seem to "notice" I'm doing something different. But I haven't always been this way.

There was a time when I carried an extra 45-50 pounds on this 5' 4" frame. And really, more than that because my composition was VERY different. I've been successfully managing my weight for close to 25 years.

What do I have that's different? How am I able to make it "last"? What's my secret? I'll tell you my secret...it's twofold:

  • I have clarity in my values
  • I am deeply connected to my goals
The key to your success is thinking about those things, then aligning your actions with those. That's my secret. My secret is out.

I am the only one accountable to my choices. My coach isn't accountable. He won't be standing on stage with me when I get first call out, or last. My colleagues enjoying themselves at happy hour aren't accountable to my values. The world around me isn't responsible for my outcome. I am.

Accepting that accountability comes with the humility that nothing is owed to me. I don't "deserve" wine and pizza. Or ice cream. There's no situation where I've "earned" it. Having a bad day, stress, loss, sadness, happiness, celebration...any of those things. 

Why? Because those things don't align with my values and goals. If I were to make choices which did not align, I would feel "guilt". Or I might feel bad, or whatever feeling goes along with disappointing yourself. I choose to make different choices.

I choose to make choices in direct alignment with my goals and values. This is how I've not only managed my weight over time, but become a national level physique competitor. 

What choices are you making that leave you disappointed? What if you could stop, breathe, and make a different choice? My advice? Do just that. Stop. Breathe. Assess your situation, your moment. And make a choice that aligns with your goals and your values.

Your goals and values are not mine. They belong to you. Find clarity in your values and goals, and you'll find compliance with your plan. You'll find you are not elbow deep in a bag of chips drinking an entire bottle of wine because you had a stressful week.

I'm good at it because I have practiced it every single day for the past 25 years. Every day. Stop and breathe. Find clarity and get connected. Practice, and you will get better. 

Your goals are waiting for you to win!