Monday, January 23, 2017

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, My Sister Has What?

by Kris Pitcher

While instant messages were circulating facebook with instructions to post a heart, then IM friends who would also post a a silent movement of support for breast cancer, my family was navigating the news my sister has breast cancer. My big sister, has cancer.

We have history of cancer in our family. So you expect to hear news about relatives...distant relatives. You don't expect to hear "cancer" and "sister" in the same breath. Yet, so it is. She has a slow growing, treatable, yet messy in terms of shape, situation.

My big sis, Megan
She has a resilient and positive spirit. She also gets sh*t done. She has navigated her medical care, received second opinions, done countless tests, and next is her first round of treatment. Today she'll undergo surgery.

Her husband is an amazing rock of a man, and together they've done lots of hard things. You know me, I tell you, "Hard things are hard." It's true. Hard things are hard, and this is no exception.

What's remarkable to me is the way she has chosen to see and tackle this. I hear a lot of whining from people in a variety of different settings. Why is this happening to me? Life is unfair? I can't do this? Why can't I eat cupcakes? I want to quit? Nobody likes me? Waaaa!

Guess what? There's no time for any of that when you are faced with this kind of reality. You gather information, and you get it done. And you get it done with hope, light, confidence, happiness, a sense of control, determination, and you surround yourself with knowledge and support.

You can cover your head and be a victim surrendering to your "fate". OR, you can face things head on with a positive attitude of hope and success. You can choose to be happy, informed, and in control.

She is committed to doing everything in her power to control her environment, her nutrition, her activity up to and in her future. And her sense of determination is like no other.

I wish her love, light, and success today as she tackles this step in her treatment. Moving forward, you take one piece of information at a time, and make decisions based on what you know. You learn, you immerse face your right now.

Face your reality, control your environment, commit to whatever it might take to tackle things, choose support, knowledge and happiness. And love and light will surround you too.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What Does It Cost to Compete?

by Kris Pitcher

The physique competition industry is thriving. With the addition of new divisions there is an access point to almost anyone who's even a little bit fit. Lots of people are interested in hitting the stage and here are some considerations to make before you decide this sport is for you.

There is a cost associated with this hobby. My husband and I share some pretty expensive, scuba diving, motorcycling, skiing (although this one has fallen by the wayside). Other people like to golf, or quilt, or scrapbook. All of those things cost money. So does competing.

What can you plan on? You can plan on spending 16, or more, weeks getting ready. Your expenses might include:

  • Gym membership
  • Food - although I hope you were planning to eat anyway
  • Supplements - some you need, some you don't
  • Membership in your organization - NPC $125/annually
  • Contest registration - $75-$100
  • Shoes - ladies, $40
  • Suit - guys are looking at $60+, and ladies...$150+ (up to as much as you want to spend)
  • Accessories - $40+
  • Tanning - competition tanning $100
  • Hair/Makeup - $100-$150
  • Travel/hotel/gas - if your show is more than 45 minutes from home, you may want to get a room
Now, we're looking at about $600 plus food, and your gym membership. Here's the piece people miss. Professional guidance - a prep coach. This costs money as well. I have a coach. My coach has a coach. And his coach...has a coach.

Hiring a coach all depends on the experience you want to have. That's up to you. You can piece information together on your own, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I don't clean my own teeth, cut/color my own hair, or conduct my own medical exams. I hire professionals for those things.

Here's what we don't spend money on: I don't get my nails done, we don't buy coffee out, we rarely go out to the movies, we eat at home and pack all our meals, I color my hair right before my show (not every 6 weeks), we don't have $600 phones, we don't have cable TV, we don't buy alcohol, I don't buy new clothes every month/week, and we don't live above our means. Why? We do those things so we can concentrate on competing at a high level.

Competing is not for everyone. It's especially not when you can't afford to. Sometimes we need to save for our dreams, sacrifice for them, or give other things up. It's all dependent on our priorities.

There is no right or wrong. Just, "what do you want?" My sense is people rush into thinking they want to compete without really looking at the cost. No hobby should make you go broke, jeopardize your rent, or make your kids go without.

Timing in life is important. If now is not the time, work toward it. Knowing the costs associated with your dreams helps you map out your plan. And that's the cost to compete!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Plant Based Protein

by Kris Pitcher

What's trending this year in the nutrition world? Plant based protein. Whether you are vegetarian, want to decrease the amount of meat you eat, or are just looking to increase your fiber intake, there are benefits to looking at plant based protein.

The key with protein, especially for the competitor, is getting complete protein. Recall proteins are made of amino acids. There are 22 amino acids, 8 of which are "essential" - meaning we need to get them from our diet. Our body can make the rest. Amazing!

Who cares? Well, amino acids are our building blocks. We need them for effective building and repair. But let's get back to the point here.

What is plant based protein? It's protein derived from plant, vs. animal sources. I'm not here to tell you your values around your food choices. That's up to you. One big advantage to plant based protein is fiber.

Fiber is like magic. Fiber makes us feel full. It moves everything through our system. It's even thought to prevent certain cancers, and aid in fat loss. Fiber is good.

Good sources of plant based protein include the legume family. Those are your lentils, beans, peas, all kinds of beans...yellow, black, red, fava...

Other great sources are broccoli, and green leafy vegetables. Then there are the seeds - chia, hemp, almonds, walnuts. And don't forget your unsweetened raw cacao powder - there's protein in there too.

The great challenge for anyone on a competitor's eating plan is, these plant based sources also contain carbohydrates and some contain fats. Knowing the full spectrum of the nutrient profile is critical to working them in your plan.

For general population, creating a plan including plant based proteins is a little bit easier. Either way, it simply requires knowing your numbers and being able to do some math. Life is like that.

Here are a few examples:

  • Broccoli - 1 C = 8.1 gm protein
  • Quinoa - 1/2 C = 14 gm protein (20 gm carbs)
  • Leafy greens - 2 C = 2.1 gm protein
  • Raw cacao - 1 T = 1 gm protein
  • Lentils - 1 C = 18 gm protein (39 gm carbs)
  • Black beans - 1 C = 15 gm protein (41 gm carbs)
The key is knowing the nutrients and working them into your total plan. Nutrition is about values. Sure, the numerical values, but also about your personal values around what you eat. Building a successful plan for someone means listening to those values and creating a plan for success.

If you'd like help with your plan, let me know. Find me at and we can build plant based proteins into your successful plan! And that's what's trending. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Team Pitcher's New Addition: Your Contest Prep Coach, Kris

by Kris Pitcher

2016 was a great year. It was a year of accomplishment personally and professionally. I met my goal of competing at the highest level within the NPC. I brought a package better than the previous year. I excelled in my professional job, contributing to one of the highest performing teams in the country.

One personal accomplishment I've kept under the radar is...I became a Certified Personal Trainer. I've been connected to the health and fitness industry for more than 20 years. I worked full time in the industry for 11 years and made the choice to take my career in a different direction 10 years ago.

It was at that time I allowed my ACSM and ACE certifications to go. It was a painstaking decision. But certifications are expensive to maintain when you aren't using them. My thirst for knowledge never left, nor my love of the industry.

Ironically, it was at that time I was able to focus on my personal fitness taking my competitive pursuits to the National level. Ten years later I'm more ingrained in the competitive field both locally and nationally. The time had come.

I wanted to be able to legitimately take on my own clients. This meant gaining certification, renewing my CPR/First Aid, and getting insurance. I accomplished those things the second half of this year. Now it's time for some fun.

I'll take on a selective load of clients both long distance and locally. Whether the goal is weight management, a healthy pregnancy, strengthening prior to a knee replacement, or competing...I can help you get where you want to go.

Nutritional science is my background and has been a personal interest and area of personal growth for me for over 25 years. It's where the magic happens.

There you have it! My secret is out. I'm looking forward to 2017, a year of growth for Team Pitcher. And another year of growth for me personally and professionally. You can visit Team Pitcher to contact me, or to learn more.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Trouble With Fitness Trackers

by Kris Pitcher

I'll preface this blog by saying there are a lot of different ways to get to the same place. Finding a way that works for you is key. What sparks my thoughts on this subject is hearing frustration and confusion from competitors trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Fitness trackers have their place both within the general population, and maybe within the competitive population. But only with the right expectations about what it's going to do for you.

  • Provide motivation to move. Great
  • Track information about your sleep. Excellent.
  • Track your heart rate. Questionable as to accuracy.
  • Track your caloric intake and expenditure. Not in the ballpark.

Let's back up before we move on. Calories are units of energy. Everything we do requires energy. Whether we are sleeping, digesting, breathing, moving our bowels...or exercising. Every magical thing our body does requires energy.

We take in calories from the foods we eat. Protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Each has it's own "estimated" value. We expend calories...well, always. We expend calories in active and passive ways all the time.

How much energy, or calories, we need is very individual. Many factors play into the equation. What is our body composition, our hormone profile, our activity level, our "metabolism" - all factors which contribute to how many calories we need. But this isn't about that.

This is about using a tracker to rely on how much you've expended, so you can determine how much you need to take in. There are a couple of reasons why this doesn't work, particularly for the competitive athlete.

First, trackers are inaccurate. One study determined trackers overestimated expenditure in ambulatory activities by 16-40%, while underestimating passive daily activities by up to 34%. That's a pretty wide range.

Second, composition change isn't as linear as calories in < calories out = loss. So to rely on the tracker to determine this for you is chaos. What works better?

Math. Math works better. The greatest frustration comes from competitors trying to ensure they get all of their "macros" in by using the tracker. Truth be told, it's also not accurately tracking nutritional information.

For general population learning the trials and tribulations of making good choices, fitting in what they need, and finding accountability in the tracker, great! But that's all a bit loosey-goosey for someone in a physique sport.

Simplicity works. I'm a flexible-clean eater. What does that mean? I know exactly which nutrients I need in each meal, it's planned out. I can select from my list of each category of nutrients for variation. Simple.

There's never a day when I didn't get all my carbohydrates, protein, or fat in. It's in the plan, and I eat the plan. When does the plan change? The plan evolves when we need to elicit change. We have a number of variables we can choose from to make said change. Easy.

How many calories, EXACTLY, is my plan? I'm not entirely sure. It doesn't matter. The calories are an estimation of the energy. As I move from off season to prep, my plan will begin to evolve. We monitor my progress, and make changes as necessary. BIG PICTURE.

Now, when I started competing nine years ago...I tracked everything. Everything! I tracked my cardio, my lifting, my meals, my weight, my periods...all of it. I needed that connection to the process. I needed the minutia. And, I thought that data would be helpful in the future.

It's not. My body is different. I'm eating differently. My composition is different. It's an evolution. And it can't be tracked using algorithms that don't understand my composition, hormonal make up, or metabolism. It just can't.

My advice? Use your tracker to give you data about your sleep and your daily movement. Put it on as a reminder that you are an athlete. Wear it in solidarity with others around you who are trying to be more active. And stop being frustrated in it's inadequacies.

It's another tool you don't need to be successful in this sport. Stop tracking what you've done and start focusing on what you are doing. If you are counting on the tracker creating a daily plan after the're moving in the wrong direction.

Plan your day, then do it. Track that.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Amy's Sweet Potato & Apple Whipped Casserole

by Kris Pitcher

'Tis the season to publish my favorite Thanksgiving dish! This is sure to please this season. I recommend it be the topic of conversation around the table. The only, topic.

Amy's Sweet Potato & Apple Whipped Casserole
  • 4 sweet potatoes (equivalent 4 cups, cubed)
  • 3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 1 egg
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 c freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated orange rind
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh is best, if you have it)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Roast sweet potatoes whole at 450 degrees until tender, about 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven and size of the potatoes. (Make sure you poke holes in them with a fork, first!)
  2. Bake apple pieces on a pan sprayed with non-stick for the last 20 minutes or so, until soft.
  3. Whip the egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Keep in the frig until ready to use
  4. Let sweet potatoes cool enough to scrape the pulp out of the skins, add to mixer with softened apples. Using the paddle attachment, blend until as smooth as possible, adding the single egg, OJ, orange rind, spices, and vanilla.
  5. When thoroughly mixed, slowly fold in the whipped egg whites to the sweet potatoes and apples, gently mixing by hand until a uniform, lighter color. (Nor egg white streaks)
  6. Spray 9x13 inch baking pan with non-stick, carefully pour mixture into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Serve hot.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Serving Up Anger, A Chemical Warfare

by Kris Pitcher

My educational background is rooted in psychology with a sprinkling of anthropology and sociology. To say the last few days has been interesting to watch, is an understatement. What I'm most drawn to is the sense of loss and devastation, the bullying, the rise in unkind acts and the increase in anger.

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • sleeplessness
  • high blood pressure
  • skin problems like increased acne
  • digestive irregularities
These things are all caused by the chemical warfare of - anger. People are angry. What does being angry do to your body? Anger begins a domino effect of chemicals in our bodies. The adrenal glands push out adrenaline and cortisol.

These "fight or flight" stress hormones create a burst of energy so we can fight off a bear, or lift a car off a trapped child. They also cause a rise in blood pressure, body temperature, increase our pain threshold, and raise our respiration rate. 

These chemicals are fatty acids, and the continual release of and long term effect of them is build up in the arteries leading to an increased risk of coronary disease. Anger makes you sick. 

Stress, or anger, doesn't happen TO us, it happens within us based on our response to a situation. We choose to be angry. We are choosing to be depressed, anxious, and sleepless. We are choosing to have digestive problems and high blood pressure. Anger only affects us internally.

Each of us is entirely welcome to our feelings. I would never diminish how you feel about anything. That is a personal issue. What each of us has the power to control is our RESPONSE to our feelings. We own our response.

I am a proponent of controlling what I can control. There are a lot of things outside my control. There are also many things within my control. I focus on those things. I am also solution oriented.

What could I do differently? What could I work on? What do I have the power to change? What solutions do I bring to any situation? What can I learn? What can I contribute?

There is a lot happening "out there", things I may not have personal impact on. There is also a lot of  anger over "what if" situations that are not real. We can all settle the dust by controlling the things within our control.

Impact your circle, your community, your family. Make a difference. Being caught up in anger is only serving you, and not in a positive way. Choose your reactions, your feelings, and your emotions. Be aware of the chemical warfare you are engaging in. Ask yourself who that is serving.