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 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'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! 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Hitting the NPC Stage, What Do You Expect?

by Kris Pitcher

I go into each prep, and off season for that matter, with expectations. When I consider what these expectations are, they are inherently internal.

Internal meaning, focused on what I will do, on what I control, and on what I affect. My expectations are around my behaviors, my actions, my reactions, and my input. This is successful. It puts my "expectation" energy focusing on things I impact. These are things I am accountable to.

Each season, I experience the "disappointed client". It's often someone who looks honestly amazing, and has done very well. I can see it 10 weeks out. And this is how it usually goes:

  • It's my very first time, but I expect to win overall.
  • I don't feel like I'm going to be ready in time, but if I don't win my class, I'll be so upset.
  • I know Angelica just won bikini at the Arnold, I expect to look like her in 5 weeks, is that possible?
  • Honestly, if I win 3rd place, I'm going to be crushed.
I have found first time competitors are often filled with expectations that might not be either internal, or realistic in any way. And it's difficult to know what you should expect when you've never done something.

We see and watch people much better than us on social media, and they seem so accessible, it's like we're training together. So, naturally...I should expect to place first just like them. Not naturally. In fact, not at all.

Putting your expectations around where you'll place, or who will be there, is lost energy. No one controls that. The girl you are stalking on IG may not even make it to the show. She might get sick, hurt, have a family emergency, or quit. Why worry about her. Worry about you.

Comparing yourself clouds your expectations.So if you are trying to figure out who will be at your show, and place yourself (first) among them it's wasted energy. And external expectations.

How do you focus your expectations internally? You focus on what you're doing. You focus on your plan, your nutrition, making your improvements. 

It seems relatively narcissistic to expect you will win overall at your first ever show. I'm not diminishing your physique, drive, or ability. However, you are one of many talented athletes. One.

Respecting the work others have done is called humility. I'm not impressing you should think anything other than, "I am a winner and I will be placed center stage," when you step on stage. You should! We all prep for first place. I'm talking about our expectations, and the aftermath of the reality only one of us will in fact be placed first. One.

For me, when I step on stage I already have a plan for improvement and my brain is thinking forward. The show is one stop in the cycle of the sport. It's not my end point, and that perspective helps guide my expectations. I've watched really good athletes disappear in this sport because they did not win overall in their first ever show...and it wrecked them.

I encourage you to sit down with your expectations and think about what you are setting yourself up for. Are you setting yourself up to shine in your moment and get back to the drawing board? Or, are you setting yourself up for complete and unnecessary devastation? 

Only you can control your experience in the sport, or in this life. Set your expectations accordingly. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Best Prep Clients, Are You Coach-able?

by Kris Pitcher

I've experienced plenty of clients looking for a new coach. Sometimes people come to you from another coach, and sometimes people leave you for someone else.

Now, there is nothing wrong with experiencing different approaches, learning from a variety of people, and looking for the right fit with a coach. If however, you chronically find yourself on the hunt for the next best thing...ask yourself, are you coach-able?

What does it mean to be coach-able? Here are some key indicators you can be coached to a high level (aka. you are a GREAT client):

  1. You can take constructive criticism: Let's face it, we all have inadequacies, imbalances, and weak points. Being able to hear honest feedback about those, in a constructive way, is important to your success. It's also important to setting expectations.
  2. You can follow your plan: Your plan is not a guideline or suggestion. It is your plan. Following it ensures the input-output assessment by your coach. It is how we create "control" within the process. When you only kind of follow it, we only kind of have any clue what is going on with your changes...or lack of. 
  3. You can take direction: Your coach has a background in nutrition and exercise science. There is a reason for each directive you are given. Some clients want to know the reasons behind each, and it's my opinion that knowledge creates compliance. 
  4. You have trust in your adviser: You need to be able to trust your coach has the insight to guide you. If you don't hold that trust, it's not the right fit. Often, it's a matter of communication and knowledge sharing. 
  5. You can communicate: Being coach-able means you can engage in two-way communication with your coach. If they ask you for a check-in...provide it. The more "input" you are able to provide the greater your success in your relationship with your coach.
  6. You are accountable: This is critical to your success. You will be the only one on stage with your decisions. Your coach will guide and direct you providing the best plan possible, and it's up to you to do it. No coach can do the work for you. No coach can promise you a certain placing. You are accountable ultimately.  
Being open to creativity, to different ways of doing things, and to drilling down on a method all play into your success as a coach-able client. There are lots of coaches each with their own set of skills, ideas and methods.

A great coach listens to you, builds your plan around your needs, is able to apply a multitude of methods, and communicates why you are doing certain things. They are able to be positive, constructive, and honest with you. Your coach should be professional, objective, and detail oriented.

I've had the benefit of amazing mentors and coaches both personally and professionally. It makes all the difference in just how coach-able I am. They have shown me not only how coach-able I am, but also how to be a great coach and mentor to others.

Monday, February 6, 2017

When Panic Sets In, Will I Be Ready In Time?

by Kris Pitcher

Things in life aren't necessarily linear. At just ten weeks from our first regional spring is the time competitors begin to panic, "Will I be ready!"

Competitors begin to wonder if their coach has the skill set to get them to the stage. In some cases they do, and in other cases not so much. Competitors managing their own nutrition begin to question what they are doing, what they know, and how to filter the plethora of information coming at them from all angles.

Rightfully so. On all accounts. But here's the thing...none of this is linear. Change is cumulative and happens in small increments. Sometimes those changes are so small, we aren't able to see them in ourselves, or measure them.

Changes are still happening. Now is the time to trust the process. A phrase everyone cringes over. Trust your coach. Unless they are a complete and total fraud, your coach should be able to get you there.

I'm transparent in there are many ways to get someone ready for competition. There is no "one" way, or "right" way. So now is the time to trust how your coach is guiding you...or, if your gut tells you differently, seek out someone who is a better fit. I'm not a fan of jumping mid stream.

Usually, communication will clear up anything you feel you're not getting. That's up to you. Your role is to relax, do the work, eat the plan, communicate, and settle in. Ten weeks is 10 weeks. You won't look ready today. That's not how this works.

Will you be ready? Probably. If you aren't ready guess what, there is always another show on the calendar. If you thought you needed 16 weeks, and in reality you need 20...your timeline just got a little longer and you and your coach look for another show. Easy.

Don't panic. Settle in for the long haul and trust this process. You'll be ready when you're ready.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Why Your Environment Creates Your Success

by Kris Pitcher

If I have a TV I'm going to watch it. If I have a book, but no TV, I'm going to read. When I have a book and a TV...I'm forced to choose. And I'm lazy, and I grew up in the 70' & 80's. I'm going to watch TV. Hands down.

Turns out I love both. I enjoy reading just as much as I enjoy TV. It's the choice that's agonizing. I am agonized by the decision. What if I make the wrong choice? What if people think I'm smarter for reading the book? Or if they think I'm missing out for not seeing that series on TV? What if they think I'm weak? Can I be trusted to make the right decision?

You're wondering why this is such a big deal. The deal is, food choices are a lot the same. When we have to choose it's difficult. Lots have strayed from those resolutions made upon ringing in the New Year (earlier this month). And many are waiting for just the right time to actually face the choices.

What I've found is, it's much easier when you are in a controlled environment. For example, I am enjoying my Alaskan visit in my cozy apartment above the shop...WITH NO TV!

This would send most running. Compounded with the fact that Sprint doesn't serve Alaska...I'm a little off the digital grid up here. Controlled environment. It means I'm enjoying my book, very much.

The key is a controlled environment ensuring the choices you intend to make are easy to make. By surrounding yourself with the things that are on your plan, you will automatically make the right choice.

We take that further through organization. When we plan and organize our day, our meals, we will be that much more successful. We organize our space in our kitchen to make the priority items readily available. And guess what? Our choices are right there for us.

We aren't faced with the constant agony over the decision process. This is where the success comes from. There's no guilt from a choice that doesn't align with your goals when you surround yourself with all the things that will make you successful.

I'm not any better at this than anyone else. I don't have "will power" of some super hero. I don't want it any more than the next guy. I've created an environment where I will be successful. Success is my only choice.

My suggestion is to simplify. Create the environment where your only choice is success. Change is change. We need to remove things, and replace them with something else.

I'm not just sitting here in the dark with no TV. I'm sitting here enjoying my book. Think about the choices you are agonizing over. Think about the changes you would like to make. Then begin to create the environment where your only option will be in support of your goals. This is where success happens.