Thursday, July 28, 2016

Injuries, Sickness and Setbacks in Your Fitness Plan

by Kris Pitcher

Once we decide to move forward on our path to health and fitness we don't envision anything getting in our way. Our determination is strong, we have a plan of action, and we've aligned ourselves with success.

Whether we are a competitive athlete, or we're taking back control of our health metrics, we will all at some point face bumps in the road. These may come in the form of  an unexpected illness. From the common cold to cancer and everything under the sun...illness happens.

Injuries are even more common. We might face overuse injuries, an old injury may resurface as our activity increases, or the worst yet - the acute injury.

Setbacks come in all forms. Work may need to become a priority. You may be facing family issues which require your attention. Or something in your plan just may not work. Some component or dynamic may just simply not mesh.

How we deal with these inevitable occurrences determines whether we move forward, or hang up the towel. There are times when more important life issues take priority. Let's face it, competing is a hobby. Running marathons is not going to move your career ahead. Prioritizing what's truly important becomes key.

Those events will be waiting when things settle down. Dealing with injury or sickness is a little bit different. Working through overuse injuries is possible, and requires a mental shift. We need to change the way we move, our range of motion, and the exercises we're doing. We might need to commit to some rehabilitative movements, some rest, or even time off.

When we're sick, we need to allow our immune system to do it's job. Undo stress (exercise) will likely put us further back than just resting and allowing the body to deal with what's ailing you. Rest is difficult for most, and a healthy immune system requires rest when it's being taxed.

Sometimes our systems just don't cooperate. We might be experiencing hormonal shifts, systematic irregularities, or other anomalies interrupting our progress. These are often issues we need some medical advice, assistance, and correction with. Your contest or event can wait. Your health comes first.

Putting aside the notion that "more is better" is the first place to start in getting your head around dealing with any of these setbacks. You might have your heart set on a specific event, date, or milestone when you are faced with your setback.

Knowing you can manage through it, control what you can control, and maintain perspective on what truly requires your attention in the moment is not only helpful, it's critical. You only have to do weight management as long as you want it to work...which is forever.

If an injury or requirement of your attention comes forward, you have to assess priority. We have time. Do the things you can do, control the things you can. Engage in the amount and type of activity you are able to do, when you are able to do it.

Most of all, give yourself a break. You are the one putting the pressure on yourself, no one else is. The pressure to perform isn't "out there", it's internal...and you control that. Reset your expectations, your timeline, your mindset.

You can successfully overcome obstacles with attitude. I recently heard a CEO say, "It's not the crisis which defines us. It's how we respond in the crisis which defines us." This is so true.

Setbacks are going to happen, you will find yourself in "crisis" at some point along your path. How will you respond?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What it Takes to Lose

by Kris Pitcher

Competing at the national level takes a lot. It takes lots of support from people around you. It takes a trusted coach, trusted advisers, and trust in yourself. It takes clarity in your goals, requires humility, and readiness to lose.

Stay with me here. We all want to win. We train to win. I train to win. I visualize myself being called into the first call out, being moved to center, and wining. Of the thousand who will show up at the highest level, only five will place in your class, and only one will win. One.

My goals going into a competition are twofold. First, to come in better than I did previously. This is - to beat my best every time. This is the only thing I control. Can I come in tighter? Can I create a better back? Can I lift my glutes? Can I improve upon my physique? This is my primary goal.

Secondary is the goal for a placing. I have zero control over this. At the highest level, everyone is great. Everyone is in shape. Everyone has amazing structure (most better than mine). You never know who will show up, who you'll stand next to, what the judges will be attracted to, or how you'll place.

When you compete at the highest level, you have to be willing to lose. Part of this is being willing and open to criticism. Are you willing to take feedback? Are you open to hearing where you went wrong? Are you able to be criticized, objectified, and picked apart when you ask for feedback without having your feelings hurt?

Are you able to share your placing in a positive way when you get home? Or will you bad-mouth the judging? Will you say it wasn't fair? Or will you rise to your imperfections, your shortcomings, and your structural flaws?

Being willing to lose means walking on that stage with humility. It means respecting the sport, your federation, the judging process, and your fellow competitors. Competing at the highest level means continuing to show up. And waiting your turn.

Very few of us can step on the national stage and get that pro card the first time out. It does happen, but most of us don't fall in that percentage. So then what?

Whether it's your very first local show, or your sixth time on the national stage, you should be considering "what's next" before you step foot in the lights. You should have a plan for how you'll train, and eat in the weeks to follow.

You should be ready to absorb the valuable feedback you receive and make adjustments based on it. So, what's my plan?

I know I need to work on my posing, on my presentation, and most of all on getting bigger in key areas. I have received some very valuable feedback, which I'm absorbing. I'm anticipating some additional feedback as well.

Now it's time to get to work. It's time to eat like an athlete, to train like an athlete, and to strategically decide what I'll do next year.

Did the season turn out like I had hoped it would. No, it didn't. I was among some amazing women who earned their way to the IFBB. Some of my friends, made their way, and I am so proud to have witnessed their time in the spotlight. And while this year wasn't my year...I still have what it takes to lose.

And that just might get me a win.


Friday, February 5, 2016

How to Finally Succeed at Your Diet

by Kris Pitcher

I can remember standing in line in grade school waiting to take a vision test. Why this happened in a "mass" situation in a portable classroom in public school is beyond me. As I stood there anxiety filled, I tried to figure out how I would cheat on the test. Cheat. On a vision test.

Sounds ridiculous, right? I've always wanted to do everything. The problem is, I'm visually challenged. I didn't want to wear my glasses. I guess I thought there must be another way. I would lean in and try to listen to the letters and numbers being recited by the student in front of me.

There is no other way. I have to wear my glasses in order to have my vision corrected. There is no other way to make your diet work either. You just have to follow it. You can't cheat and look for another way.

Creating success is the key to being able to follow your plan. Controlling your environment is paramount. Planning and having what you need, when you need it, with you, is the only way to make things work. You have to put your glasses on to be able to see.

It's up to you to design your environment. Fill your home with the things on your plan, the foods that will make you successful, and the things that you "can" have. You can't dive nutter butters elbow deep into a tub of peanut butter if those things aren't in the house. Control your environment.

Be prepared. You've heard this before. Planning is key - in everything. Shop, prepare, and pack your food. Always. Going on errands? Pack what you need, and take an extra meal in case things take longer than you expected. Out for the entire day? Get your cooler out and take all 6 of your meals. If you don't have it, you can't eat it and you will fail. This is easy once you get into a rhythm of preparation.

One of the most important keys to success is your mindset. Cheating isn't an option. It's just not. One of the reasons people cheat is they are thinking of, and placing energy, on the things they cannot have. Shift your focus, your energy, and pay attention to what you can have. Energy spent on what you can have and can do propels you forward.

You can't help but succeed when you are controlling your environment, planning and preparing for it, and putting your mental focus on your goals. You can't help but see your success when you finally put your glasses on and realize, there is no other way.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Finding Inspiration, IG, Facebook? Where Do Competitors Find It?

by Kris Pitcher

A comment on one of my IG posts inviting me to visit someone's profile for inspiration...well, sparked inspiration. Where exactly does inspiration come from? Where do I get it? How have I kept it? Good questions. (No, I did not visit her profile.)

Inspiration is a personal and internal "thing". It doesn't come from somewhere outside. It comes from within. It's deep down, intrinsic, and part of you. Inspiration is part of a system of values. No matter what you are inspired to do, when you find that sweet's internal.

In observing other competitors, those who are driven by other people's success, by the IG goddesses, the social media mavens, or by wanting to be exactly like someone they idolize - don't make it. They fade away. They find they can't and don't stack up.

I'm not suggesting you should not look to mentors, to people of greater success and accomplishment to model your actions after. What I am saying is the motivation, the inspiration, to make those actions happen on a daily, hourly, minute by minute basis comes from inside you.

The obsession to find external inspiration is wasted energy. It's lack of connectedness to your goals and desires. It's wanting something someone else has. You need to want what you have, and work from there. This is where you find true inspiration.

Trust me, no one will want something for you. Not really. Not enough to do what is necessary to make it happen. And if you need external inspiration to get you to do any of what is required to make it as a won't make it.

Dig deep. Determine why you want something for yourself. Regardless of what that thing is, why do you want it. And why is that important to you? There is your inspiration. Renew it often, and again. It's inside you. Find it, and stay connected to it. It's inspiration!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Fair Comparison, Are Her Shoulders Bigger Than Mine?

by Kris Pitcher

My prep starts now. I have big plans this year and lots of work to do. My hope is, I've made some progress. You won't hear me talk a lot about the process personally...because July is a long time from now. And frankly, you'll get sick of hearing about it.

One of the first things I do is look for my "colleagues". Who else is getting ready for similar shows? Part of that is to find a peer group for support. Part of that is seeing how I stack up. Are her shoulders bigger than mine?

But there's one thing I know for sure. I'm competing against me and no one else. My single goal is to come in better than last year. Regardless of who else is there. The truth is, I can ONLY control me.

Worrying about who else will be there is lost energy. They might not even show up. Any number of things can come up in life and keep someone from making it to the stage. So comparing yourself to others along the way is playing the "what if" game.

Did you know 95% of what we worry about will never happen? It's true. If I were to spend my time and energy following other competitors and putting myself side-by-side against them in terms of my progress vs. their progress...well that's just silly. We are each working our own plan.

With continual and constant access to information and people on social media we get bombarded with what everyone else is doing, and how they look. There's a balance with "support" and sabotaging our own progress by worrying about what other people are doing, what they look like, and what their body fat is.

I watch women on forums spin in information seeking the opinions of thousands of others, when they have a coach...and their coach has laid out a plan for them. Just listen to your coach.

I also watch competitors compare themselves to unrealistic expectations. I see beginners compare themselves to pros. I see bikini competitors compare their body parts to women's physique. None of that makes any sense to me. Comparing yourself to anyone else is wasted energy. And why would you give your competition that advantage?

It's normal for self-doubt to creep in. It happens to competitors at every level. What sets high level athletes apart is their ability to keep their head straight. The ability to remain focused and keep your priorities in front of you will set you ahead of the competitor crumbling under the pressure of comparison.

The workouts are easy, the food becomes habit, but keeping your head in the game takes daily work. Visualize your success. SEE yourself confidently presenting on stage. Remain connected to your goals, your focus, your efforts, and your progress.

For some of us, and for me personally, this means closing my circle as I move through my prep. There comes a time when I have very little tolerance for social media. I don't want to see everyone's daily selfies, check ins, and workouts.

Put your clothes on. Stop posting progress pics every week. And consider focusing on you, not everyone else. It's my personal philosophy to compete quietly. I do my work. I'm not posting it all over IG and fb. I want to just quietly show up and let my physique do the talking. That's me.

It's what I need to do to maintain confidence along the way. It's the approach I need to take to be the athlete with her head in the game. It keeps me calm and focused. It's allowed me to compete at a high level.

And if I really, really want to compare myself to someone...I pull pictures of myself. It's the only fair comparison.

Monday, December 14, 2015

When to Fire Your Prep Coach

by Kris Pitcher

Your relationship with your prep coach is a sacred one. It's built on trust, communication, being approachable, and above all professionalism. It's often difficult to find just the right coach, and when you do, you may be wait-listed due to their popularity.

At the same time, it's different from other professional relationships. There's a level of "professional intimacy" if that's a thing...which occurs when you share the kind of information with someone the way you do with your coach. Maintaining balance with professionalism can be a challenge. This is what makes great coaches great. Or bad coaches bad. As with any relationship, things don't always go well.

It's easy to know when to "fire" a client. But do you know when to fire your prep coach? Here are some tips to help you know when the time is right to tell your prep coach, "You're FIRED!"

  1.  Your coach takes ALL the peanut butter out of your diet. This is just cruel because you love peanut butter. Now let's not go to extremes here. Peanut butter aside, if your coach eliminates items without explanation and says, "Because I said so." You need to get more information about WHY changes are being made in your plan. When your coach can't explain flag. You're fired.
  2. Your coach spots you by cupping your...glutes. Did a hand just brush my butt? When your coach puts the moves on you by touching you inappropriately, or using their status or power in the relationship to sexualize or demean you...they are a douche. This can happen regardless of gender. You want to make your coach happy, proud of you, and you want to do what they say...some jokers feed on this power and you need to FIRE this coach. It happens. 
  3. Your coach won't let you eat poptarts every day. I have nothing against the kids who eat poptarts. I've always been clear nutrition is full of value laden choices. The big picture issue is if your coach only knows ONE way to prep, they might not know how to apply the science. Whether you want to do a flexible diet, count your macros, eat vegan, or eat only ice cream your coach should know how to apply the science of nutrition to each client individually to meet their needs. When they only know one way, it's probably the way they did it for themselves for that one show they did. FIRE this coach.
  4. You've texted your coach 345 times today and they won't text you back. Your coach sent you a new plan and you have questions. You've texted a million questions and they are not responding. What gives? Well, it's important to have an understanding of how to communicate with your coach. Are they with clients? Do you have a meeting or appointment where you are to ask all those questions? Were all those things addressed in the plan...if you read it? OR are they just not responsive? If poor communication is a pattern, or they think your questions are stupid, or if they tell you to just do it because they say so...all red flags. When you are communicating within the agreed methods and your coach is non-responsive, FIRE this coach. You need open communication.
  5. Your coach dumps drama like you've NEVER seen. "Girl! I'll send you your diet next week, I have to move...AGAIN!" Professionalism above all. This is a professional relationship. You aren't buddies, friends, etc. - you aren't paying them to have them dump their problems on you, or to hear about indiscretions of other clients. You should expect a professional, confidential, relationship. When your coach has personal drama affecting their ability to hold up their end of the arrangement, red flag. Now, life events happen to all of us. And a certain amount of grace is common, but you know who I'm talking about, and this coach should be FIRED.  
There are enough fantastic coaches out there that you should not stay with someone who has no qualifications, doesn't run a legitimate business, doesn't hold certifications or insurance, isn't professional, doesn't deliver, pay attention to you, or treat you like an individual. 

If you don't have a great match with your coach, find someone else. Prep in itself is too much work, you need to make sure you're supported and in the right relationship. Now you know when enough is enough and it's time to say, "You're FIRED!"

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Getting on the Scale, My Week in Weight

by Kris Pitcher

The morning ritual begins with willing myself to empty my bowels...did I warn you this would be a TMI blog? Not entirely, just as we get started here.

Stumbling out of bed I flip on the light and go to the bathroom to empty my bladder. I slip on my slippers and head to the kitchen. After putting fresh water in the dog's bowl I turn on the light next to his kennel. He's so happy to see me.

I take the dog out and he does his "business". On good days he doesn't need encouragement. On rainy days, snowy days, or REALLY early days...he needs encouragement. "Do your poop." I tell him. And he does. He's a good boy.

Then it's back in the house and he gets his dry nuggets. I put my quarter cup of coffee in the microwave, and I encourage your poop.

I want to be empty before I step on the scale. Success. Then I blow my nose. Just in case? I strip down and march into the dining room - the home of the commercial "Health o Meter" scale. And I step on.

Should I hold my breath or exhale? I move the weights and look for balance, starting where I think it might be. And here's my week in weight:

Tuesday - 130.5
Friday - 132
Monday - 134.5
Wednesday - 132

Now. Most people would FREAK out about those numbers. A four pound fluctuation would send some people into a binge, or doing double cardio or a number of other things. Here's the deal. Our weight on the scale only tells us one thing. It tells us our body weight. That's it.

Between Tuesday and Friday, we had a refeed. Increased glycogen storage, increased water weight (because of the glycogen). Not a big deal, in fact it's the purpose of the refeed. Well done.

Sunday I got my period. By Monday, another 2.5 pounds. Water weight. Big deal. It will go away, along with the feelings of sadness, bloating, anxiety and anger. Kidding, kind of.

By Wednesday, my weight had settled back at 132. Not a bad place. My shape is good, my composition is good (for offseason), and I like the number. I am in fact trying to build.

We get really wrapped up in the number on the scale. It determines what kind of day we'll have, how we'll measure our success, what we'll decide about ourselves. But keep in mind it's measuring EVERYTHING. Water, waste, muscle, fat, bones, organs...all of it. Loss, and gain (hopefully not of your organs).

It's not measuring composition at all. At. All. Did I gain 2.5 pounds of fat. Not even. Was I worried about it? Not even a little bit. Why? Because I got my period and I'd gained water weight. Don't let the number on the scale be the only information you take into consideration as you evaluate where you are each week.

Your week in weight is also going to fluctuate. If you are a slave to the scale, think about weighing less frequently. Not able to make that happen? Put the scale away. Bring it out once a week to weigh yourself.

I hope seeing my week in weight helps you put your own in perspective. And just so you know...I exhale.