Monday, March 5, 2018

Reset for Exercise Success!

by Kris Pitcher

We have an expectation that our fitness pursuits are perfect. Our idea is we either succeed, or we fail. The underlying myth is that success is a linear process. The truth is, the path is not a straight line at all.

How is it some people excel, or succeed, while others “fail”? It’s all in how we perceive challenges. We will always have challenges. There will be competition for our time. We’ll have celebrations to navigate. We will have changing priorities, and may face injury or illness.

The secret lies in either seeing challenges as dead-end roadblocks, or as issues we work around and overcome. This is resiliency. It’s our ability to problem solve as we come across challenges. There’s no “failure” when your path takes a turn. The idea is, stay on the path.

We are constantly re calibrating in our professional lives. We adjust budgets, we juggle projects, and we prioritize goals. Treating our fitness pursuits in the same way, as we face challenges, makes sense. I call it hitting “reset”.

People who are successful in their pursuits, practice them. Daily. And when faced with challenges, re calibrate, or reset. There will be times when another aspect of our lives must take priority. It’s our ability to come back to it, get back on our path, that leads to long-term success.

The truth is, the path winds, it twists and it turns. It goes up hill, and downhill, and sometimes we can’t see around the next corner. Our ability to reset, to re prioritize, and re calibrate is what keeps us moving forward.

Maybe the holidays didn’t go as planned. Perhaps you had to deal with an injury, or maybe you had family issues which took priority. These things happen…to all of us. The difference for those who find success is hitting that reset, and getting or staying on their path.

How do you do that? I believe strongly in aligning my values with my goals. When I value my health, I make it a priority to do the things necessary to improve my health and quality of life. Then as I align my actions with those values and goals, I’m at ease with my decisions. There’s no internal conflict.
Some days we reset, or recommit, multiple times. Other times we have a good run of a month or so. 

There’s no “magic”, there’s just re calibration, realignment, and hitting that reset within yourself.
Now is as good a time as January 1st. There is no special time to place focus on your efforts. In my 25 years of successful personal weight management my mantra has been, “You only have to do weight management as long as you want it to work.”

There’s no rush. We’re going to work on this for the long-term. Incorporating new habits takes time, and practice. Those of us who are good at it do it. We practice it every day. We stay connected to it through our values and goals. Then we align our actions.

The path is not a straight line, results are not linear. And when you get to your “goal”, you’ll set new goals. There’s no going backward on your path, or returning to your starting point. What you’re looking for is in front of you.

Set aside your expectations, your myths, and your pride in being perfect…it’s time to hit reset and get back on your path to exercise success!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Faith, Fear and Fitness

by Kris Pitcher

I see it all the time. I see perfectly capable first time, or even experienced, competitors crumble in fear. Fear of failure. Fear they won't be "perfect" the first time. Fear they will disappoint themselves or others. So, here's a story about faith and fear that made me think of this exact predicament.

I'm traveling for work. A simple overnight. I pride myself on packing light. In fact, this trip I decided I wouldn't need to wash my hair (today). With that, I stripped my toiletries WAY down. What I didn't remember is my hotel selection while they do have a microwave, refrigerator, and 24 hour gym (required)...they don't have many amenities in the bathroom.

After sweating about 8 pounds last night, I woke realizing I needed to wash my hair. It's a public service act truly. I also realized I only had "moisturizing shampoo" at my disposal. I live for conditioner. I. Need. It. "No good can come of this." I thought as I emptied the bottle onto my head.

I toweled dry, gently. I was smart enough to bring some hair products. After all, I know what it takes to tame this hair. I LIBERALLY applied my leave in cream, looked at the hair dryer, and made a cup of coffee. "It's going to be fine." I thought to myself (faith).

The texture as I began the drying process was like the most fine spun cotton candy you have ever seen. Remarkable. It'll be fine I chanted. I pressed on. I checked some email while I let it air dry a bit. I let my curling iron heat up and looked for my claw clip to section out my hair. No clip...

I began to curl, which for me straightens, smooths and curls. It's going to be fine. Keep going. Once I had all the sections handled, I sprayed...I could tell my hairspray was just about out. It will be fine.

Letting the curls cool, I worked a bit more. Press on. Keep going. Trust. Have faith. I can do this. Then I shook things out. It looked amazing. I sprayed the last bit of hairspray from the can and tossed it in the trash.

But what if I had just quit? Or, what if I hadn't even started? What if I had woken up with sweaty, stinky hair and knowing my circumstances just threw my hands up and didn't even try? Wouldn't that be silly?

Did it look perfect when I took the towel off? No. Did my original plan work out? No. Did it look great when I finally got it dry? No it did NOT.

But in the end, when I had persevered through all the steps with faith in my abilities, it worked out.

So, I'm always perplexed when someone just gives up on themselves because they can't see the very end product. Of course you can't see it. It's many steps, months likely, down the road. Keep going!

Stop looking for reasons and ways to quit on yourself. Find faith in your ability to succeed. Find your faith!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

I Don't Care What You Think - It's Quackery

by Kris Pitcher

Historically, there have always been polarizing opposing social views. The beauty, and the curse, of current times is the unrelenting access to share passive aggressive views digitally. It's a revolutionary time for anyone with a polarizing view to share it, along with anecdotal information to back it up as their "truth".

This gets people really riled up. Me? I don't care what you think. And this comes from a good place, a nice place. I simply don't put energy there. I started to think about 3:33 am, when I couldn't sleep. Why is it, that I don't care what you think?

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, a fairly liberal region. My family was a blend of religions, which meant occasional holiday services, or going to church with grandparents. Translation: we were not religious. My neighborhood was diverse and had a lot of kids. I grew up with all kinds of kids, they all just seemed like "kids", not kids defined by race, religion, or orientation.

I was also a child of the '70's and '80's. This means...we played outside, we feared our parents, we learned to socialize, we had to solve conflicts face-to-face, and we dialed people on the telephone...and spoke directly to them.

My point is to illustrate my foundation of inclusion. I feel like - you're entitled to your opinion, I'm not likely to change it, especially if you aren't interested in truths and "eff" it. Basically.

To me, it seems a terrible waste of energy, and frankly embarrassing, to make broad social statements based on hearsay, legend, false and untrue information, or flat out lies. It's embarrassing because factual information is so readily available and accessible on the same piece of equipment used to post the nonsense.

Snake oil has been selling like hot cakes since 1712, quackery is nothing new. People are still lined up around the block to get it. There's a sucker to buy into anything you want to sell them, including inaccurate information. Why would I waste energy on that?

Truth be told, I don't care. When I say this comes from a "good" place it's because I'm busy doing something. I'm busy making my own impact where I can. I choose to engage in solution, and I suggest you do the same. Together, we just might create a better place. For everyone.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Anatomy of a Successful Off Season

by Kris Pitcher

Coming off a show, most of us want to make progress. Before I even hit the stage, I'm thinking about what I want to work on, what I need to work on, and what my next steps should be. For me, the contest isn't the end of anything, it's just one stop in a cycle of progression.

People think of physique sports in two phases, either prep, or off season. What you do in, or with, that time makes all the difference. I'm always surprised when someone comes to me at 16 weeks out and is ready to start working out in preparation for a contest.

You have to have some mad genetics to only work out during a 16 week prep. Most of us do not fit that category. Thinking of those two phases, let's talk about the anatomy of a successful off season.

The period immediately following your contest leaves your body very anabolic. That means it wants to gain. When you fuel well, you will gain muscle. When you go off the rails, you will rebound and get really fat.

Let's assume you want to fuel well and make progress. Take advantage of this opportunity by:

  1. Maintain meal frequency - continue to eat your 5 or 6 meals per day. You've trained your body to work well with this.
  2. Follow your exit plan - your coach has provided you with an exit plan, follow it. If they didn't, it's time for a new coach. The exit plan is as important as any aspect of your prep. 
  3. Cut back your cardio - hopefully you haven't been doing a lot of cardio during your prep. Regardless, you want to taper the cardio back. 
  4. Lift - you'll have the fuel necessary to lift heavy again. Your energy will be up, and it's time to put it to use focusing on the areas you want to improve.
  5. Manage your extras - I like to treat "extras" with caution. Rather than having a little bit of goodies every day, maintain a schedule of a re-feed, or cheat meal. 
Over time during your off season, it's easy to step away from the structure. You start to feel like you don't really need it, or you might be sick of eating your food...this is where people get in trouble during their off season. Before you know it, you've gained a lot more than you intended.

Stay in touch with your coach. The most successful athletes work with their coach year round. Having the guidance, accountability, and objective eye of your coach is as valuable off season. You can expect more flexibility, more options, and in some cases less frequent check ins.

Keeping focused during your off season allows you to make gains while maintaining a reasonable level of body fat. I don't subscribe to getting fat in order to gain muscle. You can make lean gains. 

And hopefully, your method of eating has become a lifestyle. That's what it takes to make progress, have a successful off season, and become a better athlete.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Spicing Up Your Diet - What Can I Put On My Food?

by Kris Pitcher

Lots of people ask me what they can put on their food. Both competitors and lifestyle clients alike want to know what the guidelines are. Here's the short answer: it depends.

It depends on your goals. It depends on your values. Values? Yes, your values around foods. Lots of nutritional choices are values based decisions. I have my own ideas (values), and you can form yours too.

I cook in bulk and season each meal. This method gives me variety. I also cook the components of my meals separate. Again, this gives me the most flexibility to select the type of protein, and carbs I want in each meal.

A lot of people shifting to a healthier way of eating are used to sauces and dressings. Sometimes those things just don't fit the new goals. Or, we need to look at alterations to our favorites. When we want change, we need to be open to change.

Have you been down the spice aisle lately? All dry spices are great. There are tons of spice blends, rubs, and spice mixes to add to the flavor of your meals. And unless you are dealing with high blood pressure, salt is fine. We need salt. Take a trip down the spice aisle and see what catches your eye. Be sure to look at the list of ingredients, and watch for any "ose". Words ending in "ose" are some form of sugar. Sugar is added to lots of things for flavor and filler.

Hello hot sauce! Check the ingredient list for hidden sugars, but most hot sauces are fine. I love it on pretty much everything. There are hundreds to choose from whether you like it mild, or HOT. Go for it!

What about dressing up those summer salads? Look for a very low calorie option with minimal ingredients. If you don't understand the ingredient don't want it. Many "fat free" products are full of sugar, or other fillers. Get creative in the kitchen and make a dressing.

That's right, make your own. I love mustard with apple cider vinegar. Keep in mind I am smack dab in the middle of prep. If I weren't, I'd mix in a little balsamic vinegar, a touch of olive oil and shake it up. Oh! I almost forgot about fish sauce. I love that in dressings too.

Soy sauce is a values choice. Soy products can be estrogenic, and based on your goals this may or may not fit. It also contains gluten. So if that's a thing for soy. But for most, some soy sauce on things makes a great taste.

The key is staying away from things with lots of sugar. Ketchup, most BBQ sauces, anything white, Hoisen sauce (my favorite in the off season)...these are going to add to our caloric intake when our goal is to control calories and use them on the most nutrient rich foods for our body.

Another key is staying away from high fat sauces. Anything in the cheese related family is not going to get you to your goals. Gravies, sorry.

Explore the wide variety of salts on the market now. There are also many varieties of peppers. Red pepper flakes are another great way to add some spark to your meals.

Fresh herbs are fantastic. So are green onions. And you would be surprised how a spritz of lemon or lime will wake up any meal. Any dried herbs are great additions to the cooking process too. There is simply zero reason to feel bored with your food, or feel like you have to cover everything with saucy-sauce.

Tasting things in a new way gives you a fresh perspective, and will get you to your healthy eating goals. Hit the grocery store and open your eyes to some new ways to spice things up!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Explaining Your Fitness and Nutrition Pursuits to the People Around You

by Kris Pitcher

When you begin to incorporate changes in your lifestyle, people take note. Whether you are bringing your meals to work, passing on the plethora of goodies, or making different choices in social settings, people start to notice.

In my experience, there are two things happening here. The people around you start to think about their own choices. It can make people uncomfortable when you are making a choice guided by your plan, and they are eating cake. That's not about you, it's about them.

We see this in couples a lot. One person begins to make lifestyle changes, and the other person feels threatened. They worry you will try to also change them. Now, healthy changes, losing weight, and improving your lifestyle shouldn't threaten those around you, yet somehow it does.

People are noticing, and commenting on what you are doing. They ask questions, they share what they are doing, and why they are right and you are not. Then comes the second thing here, you feel like you need to explain yourself.

I've always just done my thing, no explanation required. I've found over time, when people ask questions they really aren't interested in a lot of detail. If you begin to explain details...deer in headlights. They don't really want to know. I've taken that as a cue to not explain myself in the first place.

Yes. Yes I am eating chicken out of my purse in a meeting. No explanation. Yes, I am going to the gym instead of happy hour. No explanation. No, I don't care for the treats at the office celebration. No explanation.

I'm not trying to impact or impress those around me. Eat what you want. Do what you want. I don't need an explanation. And I have found, when I do and eat what I want, others don't expect one either.

If you find yourself constantly explaining yourself and your choices, challenge whether this is an internal need. Is less detail plenty? Probably. "I'm making some shifts in my nutrition and exercise." Period. Your pursuits are yours. No explanation required. Try it.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Mindless Munching, How to Combat Eating When You're Bored

by Kris Pitcher

You know when you're bored and you find yourself elbow deep in a bag of chips, or you look up to see you've plowed through an entire sleeve of Thin Mints? Or is that just me? A lot of damage can be done in just a few minutes of mindless munching.

We've had a lot of tough love conversations over the years, and this might turn out to be one of them. I'm going to first share some thoughts on being "bored". Being bored is for kids. Kids get bored. Frankly, I don't know how. I take that back. I do know how. Most kids don't know how to play. That's another blog.

I can rarely recall being bored growing up. You want to know why? Because if I said I was bored, it would be a matter of about 3 minutes and my dad would have me stacking wood. I wasn't about to be on the lookout for chores.

Being "bored" is about procrastinating the things you need to get done. I'm not suggesting you busy yourself 24/7. I am all about down time. But if you are bored at have work you need to get done and simply don't want to do. If you're bored at home, take up a hobby.

Some people feel like they need to (entitlement) snack during certain activities. Driving for instance. Or watching TV. Some people feel like they need to snack during a movie. Snack. Snack. Snack. Guess what? Snacking isn't part of your big picture plan (unless it is, in which case we work those things in).

If I jump off my "being bored" soap box, I can share some techniques that will help you. I'm down now. First, if you are actually hungry - look at your meal timing. Are you getting the nutrients you need at the appropriate times during the day? Typically snacking isn't about being hungry. It's about feeding emotion, and filling time.

Let's talk about filling time. I am a big fan of replacing one habit for another. We just need to make a choice that goes with your goals. For those of you finding yourselves "bored" at home, here are a few things you might try:

  • paint your nails
  • floss and brush your teeth
  • drink hot tea
  • chew a piece of sugarless gum
  • take up knitting (seriously)
  • work on a project
  • get an adult coloring book
  • massage hand lotion into your hands and arms
  • take a hot bath
  • work in the garden
When you are bored at work it's time to prioritize and get some work done. Revisit your goals, timelines and deliverable outcomes. Your first step to success here is, don't have snacks hidden in those drawers.

  • create a priority task list
  • take a quick walk around the block for fresh air
  • clean out your inbox
  • organize your files
  • look through your contacts and connect with someone
  • find a mentor and schedule a coffee meeting
  • read a professional development book
  • spring clean your space
  • drink water
  • develop a stretch goal above what's expected of you
  • write a thank you card (people still do this)
  • organize for the next day, week, quarter etc.
Recognizing when you are "bored" and what your habits are around that is the first step. Creating an environment for success is critical. If you don't have "snacks" in the house/office/car, you can't eat them. Stay connected to your nutrition goals. And find some clarity in your personal and professional priorities. Before you know it, you will have banished mindless munching.