Saturday, December 31, 2011

How To Finish What You Start This Year

by Kris Pitcher

This is the year you're going to do it! The gym is already buzzing with resolutioners and they are ready to make it happen. The regulars are rolling their eyes as they wait for their favorite piece of cardio, or that piece of equipment they need.

But each year by February...they gym has cleared out and the regulars don't have to wait any longer. Not this year! This year I'm going to help you finish what you start. There's a simple reason we fail...and frankly, it's not your fault.

We start out too ambitious. We do way too much too soon. We start out full speed ahead and the reality is we cannot sustain it. In order to become a regular we have to make lasting changes. And sometimes that means slow changes.

Making lasting changes means small changes. It means changes appropriate for you. If you've been parked on the couch for the past few months/years etc. starting a cardiovascular program at a duration of 45 minutes isn't going to work for you. We might start at 5 minutes.

When we can do 5 minutes five times a week, we might increase the time to 8 minutes. As we gain success with this we might add another component. It might seem silly to come to the gym for a 10 minute workout but we are practicing our success.

The point is that a successful plan is a multi-stepped, progressive and personalized program. It takes time to establish new habits. You want to want more...not to feel burned out on your workout.

Come January, most of us are beginners all over again. Sustaining a 60 minute class, or a full circuit workout may not be realistic for us. We end up feeling frustrated that we can't do it. Well it's no wonder! We're beginners, and we need a beginner plan. We need 5 or 10 minutes. We need to work up to 15 minutes. Can you see the success being built?

So it's no wonder you weren't able to make it stick last year. You tried too much, way too soon. Take a slower approach, you've got plenty of time. Get a trainer at the gym to help you with a plan that is going to work for you. This is the year you're going to finish what you start!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Your Last Hurrah!

by Kris Pitcher

We've just about made it through the holiday season but there's one more big one coming. It's time to ring in the New Year! And for those of us staring down January 2nd (it's a Monday after all) as our "start" date. This is our last hurrah!

I've got some rules to follow for your party going success and I expect you to plan ahead. You plan your outfit, your accessories, your nail polish and your shoes. Especially the shoes, right? So, let's plan the important stuff too.

Eat before you go to the party. That's right eat your lean protein, dark green leafy veggies, and complex carbohydrate meal just before you leave for the party. You're going to drink a nice big glass of water with that.

If you're taking an item to the party, take something you can enjoy. Take a veggie tray, a meat tray, or a hummus dip. You can also take sparkling flavored water, or club soda.

Plan to enjoy the people, the fun, the conversation and the laughter...the food buffet is just one component of the party. You don't have to park yourself there. You know the drill with the drinks too.

Enjoy an adult beverage, if you have a designated driver. And have a glass of water with a wedge of lime after. No one cares what you drink. Keep in mind a glass of champagne has about 90 calories while that hot buttered rum has 415, the cosmo has 213, and that 10oz. margarita has a whopping 740 calories. Don't even look at the eggnog.

And you don't have to over indulge just because it's your last hurrah. Enjoy yourself but don't wear your stretch pants just so you can stuff yourself. You still have to do the work come January 2nd.

Ring in the New Year with a plan of action. Have a great time, find someone to kiss at midnight and enjoy yourself! It's your last hurrah!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Eat Better In 2012

by Kris Pitcher

Lots of people begin the New Year with the intent to "Eat Better". And that's a big, broad, vague and perhaps lofty goal. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater on this one. Here are three keys to eating better in the New Year!

Buy what's in season. Look around you in the produce section and try some new things. Produce in season is going to be less expensive than off season varieties. Fresh isn't necessarily better in terms of nutrient value. The frozen isle is a great place to shop as well.

Often frozen produce is picked at it's peak and then it's freshness and nutrient profile is frozen for you until you're ready to enjoy it. And pound for pound, frozen is frequently less expensive than fresh. Eat better this year by exploring produce that's in season.

Read your labels. Product labels have lots of great information on them and hopefully you're accustomed to reading them for macro nutrient information. Look at them this year with a fresh eye.

This year, look at them for the number of ingredients. Less is more in this case. We're looking for wholesome foods with fewer additives, hidden and unneeded ingredients. When you're shopping the interior of the store look for labels with fewer ingredients.

Finally, as you're making your effort to eat better this year shop locally. Support your local economy by shopping near home. If you're lucky you have some local growers who supply the neighborhood market. Or, maybe there's a farmer's market or specialty shop where you can find local products.

Not only are you supporting the locals, but you're also making a smaller foot print all around. Eating better can be a big goal. But choosing a few things to focus on makes it doable. Get the family involved in food shopping, selection and preparation. Be aware of your choices and you'll be eating better before you know it!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Resolutions! It's Time To Talk

by Kris Pitcher

We've come to that time of year again. And I think we should have a talk. Maybe we should get a cup of coffee first...get cozy. OK, I really got mine, and I gave the cat fresh water too. Did you get your coffee?

Let me start by sharing a story. Each year I look for the prefect calendar "system". I have had expensive systems, and inexpensive systems. I've had 5X7, and 8 1/2X11, I've had spiral bound and I have had three ring. I have leather binders and "leather-like" covers. Can you see where this is going?

Each year I think the perfect system will help me be more organized. I transfer the information from one system to another in hopes this will transform my life. That it will magically make me more productive, smarter, I ultimately resolve to "be more organized".

And by February my system is full of post-it notes and slips of paper. By February I don't love my new system and it hasn't changed my life...I'm not more organized. And that's the end of the story. Resolutions pretty much end by February.

Becoming more organized is one of the top self-defeating resolutions that people make. I'm not that different from everyone else as it turns out. The others that top the list are:

  1. I'm going on a diet.
  2. I'm going to get out of debt.
  3. I'm going to quit smoking/drinking.
  4. I'm going to help others.
  5. I'm going to spend more time with the family.
  6. I'm going to learn something new (language/hobby/skill).
  7. I'm going to enjoy life more.
  8. I'm going to get fit.
Big Giant sigh. We can avoid disappointment by aiming for realistic goals. These statements are so vague I could just slip into a coma when I hear people say them. Yet year after year, we set ourselves up to fail.

Not me, not this year. I bought a $5 day planner and I'm rolling with it. I switched over in October and it's working great. I don't have any expectations that it's going to change my life. 

As you think about how you'd like your 2012 to be better than last year think small. That's right, think small. Small changes are lasting changes. Try drinking more water, or eating breakfast. Try to move more or go on a walk after dinner three nights a week with the family. Try to prepare meals at home most nights each week and pack your lunch for work. These things will go a long way toward "going on a diet", or "getting fit". 

Instead of "learning something new" try picking up a few travel phrases in a new language, or try enjoying that hobby you purchased a bunch of stuff for last year. Enjoy the hobbies you have already invested in. Or if you aren't interested, let those things go. Put all that scrapping stuff on Craig's list for someone who could use it. Move on.

Remember that goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed. SMART goals will create success around resolutions. Think small changes that you can incorporate without big life shifts. Once you find success with one small change then you can add another.

My resolution? No self-defeating resolutions! My plan is to continue to build on the success from the year before. Train hard, eat clean, de-clutter my life, pay attention to the important things, keep writing, compete...be better in small ways. And that's worth my resolve! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fitness Trends For 2012

by Kris Pitcher

As you're getting ready to game plan for 2012 I thought you might be interested in what's trending in the industry. Each year the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conducts a comprehensive industry survey regarding what's happening industry wide.

A trend marks a general situation or development or change in the way people are behaving. And a fad is a fashion that is taken up with great passion and enthusiasm for a short period of time. This study marks trends, and I guess by default fads.

Trends have a proven and long lasting impact on the industry. We know we can count on trends, or rather we know we can count on people to continue to be interested in what's trending.

Topping the list is Educated, Certified, Experienced Fitness Professionals. This is no surprise and has topped the list for many years. Consumers want professionals who know what they are doing, who are experienced and who can help them meet their goals. We'll continue to see this as an industry leading trend.

Strength Training comes in number two. No surprise in this continuing industry trend. People young and old are incorporating strength training into their comprehensive fitness programs.

Programs for Older Adults is 3rd on the top ten list. Baby Boomers will continue to be trend setters as they age and this is another example. Older adults want to have specific programs designed for their needs. Exercise & Weight Loss programs including things like challenges are still topping the trends. We continue to seek specific programming to meet our weight loss needs.

Targeted programs for kids specifically Children and Obesity are trending very high at number 5. The industry has joined forces in collaboration with community organizations to fight childhood obesity and continues to provide programming for this special population.

Personal Training comes in at number 6 on the list. People are still very interested in one on one training designed to meet their specific needs and goals. And we find Core Training at number 7. Training programs specifically for the abdomen, thorax and the muscles of the back continue to trend high.

Group Personal Training continues to be an industry standard. Small groups of 2-4 can cost-share while getting a great deal of personal attention. And the one you've all been waiting for ZUMBA & Dance Workouts makes number 9 on the top ten. People love this program and it is new to the trend list this year. Congratulations!

Rounding out the top ten is Functional Fitness. These programs use strength to improve balance, coordination, force, power and endurance. Functional fitness can be specialized to any sport or daily activity.

And don't panic all you mat carrying Blissers, Yoga makes number 11 on the trend list. ACSM's Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2012, Thompson, Walter R. Ph.D, FACSM is published annually and can be found at www.acsm.org.

Which trends fell off the top 20 as reported by ACSM? Pilates which fell to number 26, showing that it is falling out of fashion (fad?). As well as the stability ball which deflated to number 27 after a three year high in the survey. Another fad gone flat.

There you have it folks, the trends of 2012. Time to game plan as you think about what the year holds for you and your fitness plan. Now you know what's trending in the world of fitness.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Addicted Lips!

by Kris Pitcher

I don't usually like to admit it when I'm "addicted" to something. Addicted is a strong word in my opinion. To be physically and psychologically dependant on something is pretty serious. And that's what's got me worried.

It's that darn Dr. Oz. He asked me these simple questions:

  1. Is it the first thing you reach for after you brush your teeth or have a nice long kiss? YES!
  2. Do you have them stashed in multiple places? YES! My purse, my drawers at home, at work, in pockets, in the car...
  3. Do you apply it more than three times a day? UM, YES! I need it all the time!
I am addicted to lip balm! It isn't just me either, it was half his audience and most people I know. Maybe I'm just hanging around the wrong crowd...but most people want moist supple lips. 

Here's the thing, if I don't have it my lips are chapped, dry, they split open and bleed. Is that the alternative? He says no. But he says I have to kick the habit. So, I'm trying it his way. He suggests coconut oil/butter, or shea butter.

Well, I happened to have coconut oil in the refrigerator. As I opened my drawer for a little screw top pot to put some in, there was my lip balm...with it's SPF and everything. Did I really have to give it up? I shut the drawer quickly.

I put some coconut oil in the purple screw top pot and plunked it in my purse after applying some to my already dry lips. Nice. But we'll see. We were out into the cold dry air and off to the gym. I had to reapply on the ride there. Hmm?

The problem is, as Dr. Oz describes it, that the under layer of our dermis doesn't have the chance to reproduce at the rate it would like. The lip balm basically crusts over the top layer and stops the under layers from rejuvenating. Maybe, but my lips are about to crack open if I crack a smile here. 

By the end of day one I felt like crusty the sea creature. I certainly didn't apply any lipstick, it would have looked a mess. And now I'm on to day two of this charade. 

Honestly I'm not sure how long I'll last before I'm back to my old habits. I wonder if there a twelve step for my addicted lips?  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Around The World

by Kris Pitcher

It's said around the world in many ways, Merry Christmas! I hope you're enjoying your traditions whatever they may be. Take time today to slow down and look around you, at those in your life who you are most grateful for...and let them know. 


Take time to enjoy simply spending time together, sharing a meal, playing a game, or giving a gift. Be greatful for all that you have in your life, for your health, and for your happiness. 


I wonder how others celebrate, what their traditions are, and what all of you might be doing today. And in that spirit here's a Merry Christmas from around the world! 

    Afrikaans: Geseënde Kersfees
    Afrikander: Een Plesierige Kerfees
    African/ Eritrean/ Tigrinja: Rehus-Beal-Ledeats
    Albanian:Gezur Krislinjden
    Arabic: Milad Majid
    Argentine: Feliz Navidad
    Armenian: Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
    Azeri: Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun
    Bahasa Malaysia: Selamat Hari Natal
    Basque: Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!
    Bengali: Shuvo Naba Barsha
    Bohemian: Vesele Vanoce
    Bosnian: (BOSANSKI) Cestit Bozic i Sretna Nova godina
    Brazilian: Feliz Natal
    Breton: Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat
    Bulgarian: Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo
    Catalan: Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou!
    Chile: Feliz Navidad
    Chinese: (Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun
    Chinese: (Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan
    Choctaw: Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito
    Columbia: Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo
    Cornish: Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth
    Corsian: Pace e salute
    Crazanian: Rot Yikji Dol La Roo
    Cree: Mitho Makosi Kesikansi
    Croatian: Sretan Bozic
    Czech: Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
    Danish: Glædelig Jul
    Duri: Christmas-e- Shoma Mobarak
    Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! or Zalig Kerstfeast
    English: Merry Christmas
    Eskimo: (inupik) Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo!
    Esperanto: Gajan Kristnaskon
    Estonian: Rõõmsaid Jõulupühi
    Ethiopian: (Amharic) Melkin Yelidet Beaal
    Faeroese: Gledhilig jol og eydnurikt nyggjar!
    Farsi: Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad
    Finnish: Hyvaa joulua
    Flemish: Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar
    French: Joyeux Noel
    Frisian: Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!
    Galician: Bo Nada
    Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!
    German: Fröhliche Weihnachten
    Greek: Kala Christouyenna!
    Haiti: (Creole) Jwaye Nowel or to Jesus Edo Bri'cho o Rish D'Shato Brichto
    Hausa: Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!
    Hawaiian: Mele Kalikimaka
    Hebrew: Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova
    Hindi: Shub Naya Baras (good New Year not Merry Christmas)
    Hungarian: Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket
    Icelandic: Gledileg Jol
    Indonesian: Selamat Hari Natal
    Iraqi: Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
    Irish: Nollaig Shona Dhuit, or Nodlaig mhaith chugnat
    Iroquois: Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut. Ojenyunyat osrasay.
    Italian: Buone Feste Natalizie
    Japanese: Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
    Jiberish: Mithag Crithagsigathmithags
    Korean: Sung Tan Chuk Ha
    Lao: souksan van Christmas
    Latin: Natale hilare et Annum Faustum!
    Latvian: Prieci'gus Ziemsve'tkus un Laimi'gu Jauno Gadu!
    Lausitzian:Wjesole hody a strowe nowe leto
    Lettish: Priecigus Ziemassvetkus
    Lithuanian: Linksmu Kaledu
    Low Saxon: Heughliche Winachten un 'n moi Nijaar
    Luxembourgish: Schèine Chreschtdaag an e gudde Rutsch
    Macedonian: Sreken Bozhik
    Maltese: IL-Milied It-tajjeb
    Manx: Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa
    Maori: Meri Kirihimete
    Marathi: Shub Naya Varsh (good New Year not Merry Christmas)
    Navajo: Merry Keshmish
    Norwegian: God Jul, or Gledelig Jul
    Occitan: Pulit nadal e bona annado
    Papiamento: Bon Pasco 
    Papua New Guinea: Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu
    Pennsylvania German: En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr!
    Peru: Feliz Navidad y un Venturoso Año Nuevo
    Philippines: Maligayang Pasko!
    Polish: Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie
    Portuguese:Feliz Natal
    Pushto: Christmas Aao Ne-way Kaal Mo Mobarak Sha
    Rapa-Nui (Easter Island): Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua
    Rhetian: Bellas festas da nadal e bun onn
    Romanche: (sursilvan dialect): Legreivlas fiastas da Nadal e bien niev onn!
    Rumanian: Sarbatori vesele or Craciun fericit
    Russian: Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
    Sami: Buorrit Juovllat
    Samoan: La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
    Sardinian: Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou
    Scots Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil huibh
    Serbian: Hristos se rodi.
    Singhalese: Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa
    Slovak: Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok
    Slovene: Vesele Bozicne Praznike Srecno Novo Leto or Vesel Bozic in srecno Novo leto
    Spanish: Feliz Navidad
    Swedish: God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År
    Tagalog: Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon
    Tamil: (Tamizh) Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal (good New Year not Merry Christmas)
    Trukeese: (Micronesian) Neekiriisimas annim oo iyer seefe feyiyeech!
    Thai: Sawadee Pee Mai or souksan wan Christmas
    Turkish: Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
    Ukrainian: Srozhdestvom Kristovym or Z RIZDVOM HRYSTOVYM
    Urdu: Naya Saal Mubarak Ho (good New Year not Merry Christmas)
    Vietnamese: Chuc Mung Giang Sinh
    Welsh: Nadolig Llawen
    Yoruba: E ku odun, e ku iye'dun!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas the Night Before Fitness

by Kris Pitcher

Twas the night before Christmas when all through the gym
Not a treadmill was running, no bike was a spin,
The towels were rolled by the front desk with care,
In hopes that fit people soon would be there.

But this fit lady was fast asleep in bed,
While visions of dumbbells danced in my head.
Then my alarm went off sounding of thunder,
Forcing me up from my long winter's slumber.

When out on the street there arose a pitter-patter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
With the sun creeping up steady and slow,
I saw what looked like a sleigh with a shimmering glow.

I squinted my eyes and who did I see?
There was Ashley and Shelly and Mary and Lee!
There was Floyd, and Jameson and even Gary.
There was Christie and Jeremy and Matt and Theresa and E.
There was Eric and Lisa and Bill. There was Todd Scott and the entire crew!

All ready to pump iron they shouted, "You coming too?"

Jacques sprang for our straps, then filled shaker cups,
We flew from the house like a couple of nuts!
We jumped in the sleigh, we were ready for flight,
"Happy Fitness to all and to all a Fit night!"

* I wrote this poem for all my "frequent fitness" friends at the gym! Merry Christmas and Happy Fitness! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pamper Who? Pamper You!

by Kris Pitcher

You deserve an impromptu pampering session! All you have to do is head straight to your pantry for this holiday treat. I hope you'll have some time off over the next few days and I'm envisioning Blissers around the globe rejuvenating in unity!

Tropical Enzyme Mask
2/3 C pineapple chunks
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
A mint sprig or two, chopped

Mix pineapple and oil in a blender until almost smooth. Add parsley and mint; pulse, making sure not to liquefy.
Apply to face using fingers or small paint brush; leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse to remove.
Store leftover scrub in an airtight jar. Will last, refrigerated, for up to 4 days.
 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Put Down Your Cape

by Kris Pitcher

With Hanukkah under way and Christmas right around the corner there's something going around I think you should be aware of. The symptoms start out mild but progress quite rapidly.

It seems to start with mild to moderate confusion leading to outright delusions. This is often accompanied by short attention span, loss of concentration, and a tendency toward distraction.

These symptoms progress to fatigue, loss of appetite...or over eating, and difficulty forming thoughts. This is followed by raised temper, and eventually in-fighting. The problem is you have "Super Woman Syndrome".

Super Woman Syndrome is a combination of characteristics including: a long "to do" list, big expectations for the perfect holiday, too many traditions, over spending, no one to help you, and not enough time.

I sent one Christmas card this year. One. I've talked to countless people who are having frazzled fits over the stuff they're not getting done in time for the holidays. I'll tell you what - it doesn't matter.

You don't have to be Super Woman. You don't have to hand make all your gifts, bake twelve kinds of cookies, host the neighborhood gift exchange party, take something to the office potluck, and hand write 200 cards. You don't have to have the most lights on the block, or the biggest tree. You don't have to give the most amazing gift he/she will ever have received in their entire life.

Do the things that matter. Keep your sanity. Spend time with the people you love. Send the cards that are important. Bake your favorite cookie. Let the symptoms subside, feel the calm, and enjoy the spirit of the holiday.

Put your slippers on, slow things down and...put down your cape.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Coasting Is Illegal

by Kris Pitcher

For those of you who drive you should know that coasting is illegal in most states. You are not allowed to put your car in neutral and coast to a stop or down a hill, or at all. You. Can't. Coast.

For those of you who are cyclists, you coast all the time. Spin that big gear, get up some speed and let 'er fly! I'm not going to be a prude here, or a lyer...I coast in my car. What can I say, I'm livin' on the edge.

But I don't coast in my eating or my workouts during "off season". There really is no off season. The reason you cannot coast in your car is you are technically not in control of your vehicle because your engine is not engaged.

Hmm? So if you're coasting along in your program are you engaged and in control? Good question. There are times when we are more or less engaged and that's just life ebbing and flowing. We're human, that's normal.

It might be unreasonable however to coast and expect to be able to disengage, yet have or keep the same result. This is where we tend to get tripped up. We make great progress...then we coast. And all of a sudden we're surprised when our tummy is folding over itself while we're sitting on the couch.

So maybe coasting in health and fitness shouldn't be illegal, it should just be like cycling where we have to turn the gear every now and then to keep moving. Which I guess wouldn't really be coasting at all - it would be moving slowly.

Keep things moving for yourself even if it's ever so slowly. And if you are coasting expect that you might lose some of the progress you've made. Coasting is after all illegal in most states.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why I Only Shaved Half Of One Leg

by Kris Pitcher

Confession: I haven't shaved my legs since we got home from Miami on Thanksgiving...FOUR WEEKS AGO! Now, I wasn't trying to go all "survivor" or anything. It's just a few days turned into a week. And then a week into two and so on.

Don't worry...I kept more "frequently exposed" areas in order. Like my armpits for example (this is a family blog). I mean I don't want to be doing my overhead shoulder presses and have a ruckus in the gym or anything.

And frankly, until I confessed to my husband...he didn't notice. It's winter - the season of tights after all. But then when I put my legs over his lap on the couch and let him have a look...well, hilarity ensued.

The thing is, sometimes projects just get overwhelming. And that's why I only shaved half of one leg this morning. It's too cold to stay in the shower to get the whole job done. It takes too long. Brrr!

So I decided I needed to finally tackle the project. But I needed to break it down. I needed to figure out how to get it done in smaller increments. And our health and fitness goals are just the same. When we think about them in their entirety, sometimes they are just too big to tackle.

But when we break them down, we can do a little bit each day toward meeting our goals. So, by Wednesday my legs will be silky smooth. And then I'll start all over so things don't get so out of hand.

When you think about the things you want, or the things you wish you could do - just break them down into reasonable attainable goals. Just make them happen. You can do it by starting today!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Feed The Spirit & Fill The Soul - It's Holiday Party Time!

by Kris Pitcher

I had the pleasure of going to a holiday party this weekend. We don't have a lot of social engagements...even this time of year. And even when we do, I'm often wondering ahead of time how I'll manage myself once I'm there.

What will I be able/willing to eat? Should I bring my own food? Will anyone notice if I decide not to drink alcohol? The typical stuff that runs through your head as you game plan a tricky food management situation.

But this party was special. This party was lots of competitor friends. You can bet we enjoyed the holiday festivities especially those who are counting down until their contest diets begin in January.

The greatest part was the food! Tons of healthy (and indulgent too) choices, a number of different protein packed meat dishes, and even healthy salsas. It's fun to get together with people who love to eat and appreciate great food.

Being able to make mindful choices this time of year, and all year, is critical to staying on track. You can do really well at most any party by looking for good choices. Find the protein, indulge in the beautiful vegetable tray, limit the layered dips and the carby crackers, and watch the sweets. Find yourself a handful of nuts, and have a non-alcoholic beverage for every adult beverage you enjoy.

Enjoy the company, the conversation and the laughter. The food is just one aspect of the party. Have fun this holiday season and enjoy the spirit of it all. Spending time with good friends feeds the spirit and fills the soul.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Sugar Low Down

by Kris Pitcher

You know how you feel when you over do it with the sugar? Well if you're like most people this time of year you've gone from marathon shopping to party hopping. All that festivity is usually laden with...sugar. Let's look at what happens in our body chemically...here's the sugar low down.

When we eat, our body converts carbohydrates/sugar into blood sugar or glucose for energy. Our blood sugar level can effect how hungry or energetic we feel and determines whether we burn or store fat. Our pancreas creates the hormone insulin to transport the glucose from our blood and move it into our cells where it can be used. When we eat a bunch of sugar, or even what we'd consider "normal" amounts, the pancreas goes into overdrive to produce enough insulin to move all that glucose into our cells.

This surge causes too much glucose to be transported out of our blood, we crash, feel tired and hungry and we crave...sugar! It's a vicious cycle, and we are on the sugar train! All that sugar tells our body to shut down fat burning. It says, "We've got plenty of energy here, no need to burn fat...store that for later!"

Regulating our blood sugar is the most effective way to maintain our fat burning capacity. We can maintain our energy, prevent binging and maintain our metabolism. How? By eating frequently, beginning with breakfast. Meals of low fat protein, leafy greens and small amounts of complex carbohydrates spread throughout the day should be intermixed with snacks.

Watch out for hidden sugars. Read labels. Stay away from simple sugars like sucrose, fructose, lactose..."ose" ending words. Also, be on the watch for high fructose corn syrup, corn sugar, honey, molasses, agave, maltose, sorbitol...these are all sugars. We even need to be careful of artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than natural sugar. And it's thought that they have the same chemical insulin response in our body as when we eat sugar. This response leaves us wanting more sweet and sugary things and can lead to binging.

And check this out. Just 100 gms of sugar can depress the immune system for up to 5 hours, meaning the body's ability to fight off harmful things is depressed. Wow! So, after your workout class when you treated yourself to that Starbucks 16 oz. peppermint white chocolate mocha to get into the holiday spirit while you finished your shopping...you also treated yourself to 470 calories and 78 gms of carbs. But you skipped breakfast right? Luckily you had that peanut butter balance bar in your giant purse. You polished that off with another 200 calories and 21 gms of carbs. Guess what? Your immune system is down for the next 5 hours with the 99 gms of sugar you just ate. Can you really say sugar isn't hurting you?

The last of the low down on sugar: when fat is taken out of a product - sugar is added in its place. Because of what you've just learned, I don't have to tell you this is a bad trade off. Make careful choices and make them having the knowledge about what's happening chemically.

It's not that you can't enjoy the season, just remember moderation.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What Jane Fonda Says

by Kris Pitcher

Jane Fonda says exercise changes your head, not just your body. She couldn't be more right. It changes your head more than your body most days. It's why we feel so good after we're done. Exercise is a great mood elevator.

Even she admits she doesn't always love it. No one does. But it's the way we feel after that keeps us going, keeps us doing it day after day. I've never been sorry after I finished my exercise.

Not once have I thought, "Geeze, I wish I hadn't done that." It's more like, "Wow! Am I glad I did that!" Even on the days when I have to talk myself through my cardio minute by minute...I am proud when I'm done. "That wasn't so hard!"

It changes your head. Exercise literally releases serotonin, our feel good hormone. This signals our brain to be happy. A little cardio in the morning will set your day off on the right foot. It will put you in the happy mood!

There are plenty of times when I leave work and announce to my colleagues that I'm going for my "treadmill therapy" and that's no joke. I feel better once I'm at the gym. A few minutes of cardio before I lift and I am a different person. It changes your head. We all need that.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Silent Scream

by Kris Pitcher

The clock read 3:30 AM. I was lying awake drafting an email in my head. The more I edited away the madder I got and by 4:20 AM I wasn't sure if I wanted to cry or turn my head and scream into my pillow.

Either way I knew I would be a mess with only 6 hours of sleep. I wanted to quit. To curl up in a ball and shut out the world. I wanted to escape from my life. I didn't want any responsibility. I'd take a way out if there was one. I'd eat my way through days of creamy, gooey, salty, sweet, chunky, soft anything if it would take all the stress away.

But none of that has gotten me through 20 years of successful weight management. I should get some kind of pin for that shouldn't I? Twenty years is a long time. And weight management is about a lot of things.

It's about stress management, loneliness management, loss management, boredom, love, time, grief...it's about managing a lot of things. All those things share something. They share coping with emotion.

For many of us weight management is about tools to cope with emotions. It's about tools to handle stress. So, instead of putting on my robe and cozying up with Adam and his peanut butter jar...I did some deep breathing. Then I laced up my shoes and did my cardio. I cleared my head. I got on with my morning.

Twenty successful years is about choices. It's about choices to silence the scream, to take the responsibility, and to be present in my life. It's about coping every day. You know what I say about weight management...you only have to do it as long as you want it to work.

Here's to the next twenty!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On Thin Ice

by Kris Pitcher

I woke up to a tiny skiff of snow. A skiff is less than an inch...a dusting. Frankly, I was hoping to be completely snowed in so I wouldn't have be able to go to work. Let's just say I'd had a "professionally challenging" (crappy) day the previous day. But that's another story.

So, I hit the treadmill and went about my normal morning routine. As I packed the car for my drive to work I grabbed my heavy snow boots which I usually keep in the trunk for emergencies. I should have done it sooner, but we haven't really had any snow to speak of.

I waved to my husband, who could see me from the window as he walked on the treadmill, as I pulled out of the driveway. I made my way down our street slowly, then made my left turn onto the next street. With my blinker on I downshifted to make my right turn...the engine slowed, then I punched it around the corner.

I wanted to see if it was icy. Nothing. Held the curve and straightened right out. But I could have been on thin ice. I think a lot of us are on thin ice with our expectations.

On the surface they sound OK to us. But right underneath things are a little shaky. Just beneath the surface they don't quite make sense. Maybe the science doesn't quite hold.

When we say them to ourselves they make sense. Right? But when we put them out there to other people, or say them out loud...a little less confident. We need to have our expectations on solid ground in order to be successful and not face disappointment.

I was lucky when I punched it that my tires held, that there wasn't ice beneath me. Sure I could have corrected out...but it's better if you don't have to. And when we set our goals and expectations we shouldn't "punch it" either. We should be realistic, use science as our guide and understand limitations and realistic time lines.

As you look to the New Year and setting new goals and expectations keep yourself off thin ice. Set yourself up for success with expectations that are grounded.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Like A Bowl Full Of Jelly!

by Kris Pitcher

You know that Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly. I can't help but notice people really are what they eat. I watch a person, who shall remain anonymous, eat toast almost every day. I'll be darned if her bottom doesn't look like a big flat piece of bread.

Hmmm? I should take a close look at myself if I'm going to notice these types of things in others. I eat primarily lean protein, broccoli, leafy greens, oatmeal, and eggs. Oh and nuts too, almonds and walnuts. And this time of year I eat fattier cuts of meat.

My goodies include the requisite home made pizza, ice cream...dark chocolate. Those items are consumed on a very limited basis. Believe me, I wish I could eat them in large amounts. But then I would look like a big round pizza!

So, if you are what you eat - what are you fueling yourself with? Are you getting enough of the nutrients you need to meet your goals? Are you getting too many "extras" that you intended to only have on a limited basis? Have things gotten out of balance?

It's a good time of year to take stock of your nutrition plan, get a plan, or reintroduce yourself to your plan. This is the time of year we find ourselves WAY off the path of any sort of plan what so ever. Start with a few meals.

Getting back on track with what you want to do is just a few good habits away. It starts with you. You are after all, what you eat.

 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Mantra

by Kris Pitcher

It seems like some days I hear it in my head more than others. The tray of assorted Christmas cookies I can walk away from in the work room. The random left overs from meetings, no problem. But there are certain things I see in there I really want.

I'm picky...don't get me wrong. A food snob really, but self-admitted. And as the season rolls by so do the treats in the office. Many of them are not worth my time, others do catch my eye.

My mantra, "Those are not for me." I say it over and over. Many of you know this to be true. I had a day of saying it earlier this week when faced with double chocolate chewy cookies. It's the chewy - OK and the double chocolate that gets me.

The things in my cooler are for me. The chicken and broccoli I was heating up when I saw those cookies...that's for me. And why? Because I have goals. Sure, I may be "off season" but that doesn't mean anything goes.

My choice to repeat the mantra and eat what I was supposed to eat felt good. I am as it turns out, in control of my choices. And so are you. Use a mantra if you need it. It's a tool that works to remind you of your goals. If something isn't working for you to get you toward your goals...it's not for you.

I'll use this tool a lot over the next few weeks as the holidays surround me. I'll use it as good intentioned people bring their home made treats into the office to spread the holiday spirit (and my rear). My mantra will keep me strong and in control of my choices, "Those are not for me." *Smile*

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Success!

by Kris Pitcher

Transitioning from the weekend to Monday morning can be rough. Real rough. I always feel like I'm just getting relaxed when it's time to rush off for another work week. And if you're not prepared it's hard to set yourself up for success.

We usually have good intentions of being organized and then the weekend kind of slips away. We don't exactly get things done, and before you know it our Sunday night is gone. A few things can help you have a smooth Monday and set you up for a great week. Even this time of year when time seems to be really short.

Food prep is number one at our house. If we're not fed, no one's happy. Making sure there is enough (and different) protein thawed out ahead of time makes cooking easy on a Sunday afternoon.

We fire up the grill and start the production line. At the same time the rice steamer is going and the kitchen is being cleaned and organized. This is a great time to pre-package veggies, nuts, etc. for both you and the kids.

But that's not all you're doing. You've got your laundry going so come Monday morning you are set. Sounds simple but multi-tasking isn't every one's forte. While you're putting clothes away, pack your gym bag. And I always set out my morning cardio clothes as well.

Put a hanger over the bathroom door for your Monday wardrobe. No guessing, deciding, or coordinating come early AM. Select your outfit the night before and all you have to do is dry off and put it on.

Make sure your car is gassed up each week at the end of the week. It will be all ready for you come Monday. Or, if you're running around all weekend, make a stop to fill up. You don't want to have to make a stop on your way to work.

As your Sunday comes to a close, put out your breakfast dishes, your shake mixings...what ever is going to make your morning run smoothly. Make sure your work bag is packed, your phone is charged etc. Doing these things ahead really only takes a matter of a few minutes once you've got your systems down.

Planning ahead makes for Monday success. Setting yourself up for a great week will make it easier to perform well at work, make your exercise and eating a priority and it will actually give you more time to spend with your family. Get in the habit of making things easy on yourself. Happy Monday & a more organized Tuesday!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Will Pull This Blog Over!

by Kris Pitcher

Listen Missy, I have listened with an open mind, an open heart and open ears. And I will tell you something...it's time to quit talking and start delivering. And don't you cross me with another whinny excuse, because I will pull this blog over!

You're tired, you've been sick. You're busy, you've got shopping to do. You're sad, you can't get it together. You ate your arm off last night and now you have to stay on the elliptical all day long.

Guess what! You. Are. In. Control. Period. I know it's hard. I know life is stressful. You've had a loss, change, marriage, death, divorce, new cat, lost dog...fill in the blank. Life happens all around us. Emotional eating can consume us, or we can decide to be in control.

It's not that easy Kris! Well, guess what...it is just that easy. You are the only one who can make these decisions for yourself. You are the only one who can decide how to handle and react to life's stress. Oh...you know what's coming next...

One of the greatest stress reducers is exercise. Exercise and eating right put you in a cycle of feeling good. Feeling good helps you make good decisions. One good decisions leads to another, and another, and so on.

There might be days when you have to recommit several times, making a better decision. And that's OK. You're human.

No more complaining. Yes, your butt is getting chunky, your stomach is mushy & your thighs are jiggly. It's time to step up your game. And if I hear another whimper or a whine I will pull this blog over and...OK I'll listen. But you know what I'm going to say. And along with it, I'll always be here for you.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What People Notice About You

by Kris Pitcher

I wouldn't say I fit in in high school. Sure, I had friends. I actually had lots of friends I'd grown up with, but by high school we were each a little different. To my own fault I wasn't a participator. I didn't play sports, wasn't in cheer, drama, clubs or groups. I didn't really fit in with any of the cliques, I felt invisible.

In the era of Poison, glam rock, parachute pants and giant hair...I made a lot of bad fashion decisions, and couldn't have been invisible.

I never got my heart broken by the star football player. I dated older guys who would try to control me. In the end it didn't work out to their advantage. And I ate my way through my awkwardness. I never felt part of anything.

You might not feel part of anything either. What you might not know, and what I learned much later - is that you are part of an important community. That community is your gym community.

When you're not there people notice. Whether you make a lot of conversation with people, or just a friendly hello, you are part of the culture of your gym. And I notice, people notice, when you're gone.

Whether you are the quiet one on the third treadmill from the left, the one who's usually in the front row of class, or the person anyone can count on for a spot you are missed when you don't make it to the gym.

This is the time of year when the die-hards are wondering where you are. It's time to get back in, and beat the New Year rush. You are after all part of a community, and you are not invisible. It's what people notice about you.

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Gas Station Breakfast

by Kris Pitcher

I was gassing up the other morning and I saw a man walk out of the convenience store with a food container and a cup of coffee. As I finished pumping my gas I wondered...what does the gas station mini mart have for breakfast?!

One of the biggest roadblocks for people is convenience. Right? Well, with my cooler packed full of my days meals nestled in the backseat (no, I didn't put a seat belt on it!) I thought - what would I do for breakfast if I didn't bring it with me?

I looked left, then right...secured my gas cap and went right into the mart. They have about 35 flavors of coffee mate. Did you know there were so many flavors? Well, you can skip that - it's full of stuff you don't want. The whole place is full of stuff you don't want!

But there were a few things that might work in a pinch. They did have hard boiled eggs. They also had packages of sandwich meat. I wasn't sure about that meat...I would leave it. But the eggs would be a "go". Various hot items in the case...a big no.

What else? Packages of nuts. That could work if I could eat a portion of the package. I suppose I could put them in the trunk. Then there's the beef jerky. They always have that. Luckily, with these items I am not concerned about my sodium intake.

They also had a basket of assorted pieces of fruit. Interesting...gas station fruit. I would definitely choose the banana - thickest skin. And they have the requisite bottled water in various sizes from the $3 eight oz. to the .99 gallon. You choose.

So, my gas station breakfast were I forced to rely on "convenience" might include hard boiled eggs, roasted almonds, beef jerky, a banana and a gallon of water. Don't forget the cup of BLACK coffee. And I'd be out of there for around $15. Boy, was I glad to have my cooler!

But you can make do in a pinch. Making the right choices is up to you. You have to see through all the amazingly unworthy items to find the few that might work for you. Now, gas up and go!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Even Nana Takes Creatine

by Kris Pitcher

There's a lot of buzz about creatine lately and yes, even Nana takes it! So, what is it and do you need it? We can start with the easy part of that question. Creatine is an amino acid.

Building blocks!
Amino acids are protein building blocks. Creatine helps supply energy to cells, particularly muscles. It's found in meat and fish and our body makes it in our liver, kidneys and pancreas. Remember we can make non-essential amino acids from essential amino acids. Oh, you know I'm starting to get excited!

Our body converts it into creatine phosphate or phosphocreatine and stores it in our muscles. Until we need it for energy. (This is where the magic happens!) Then our body converts the phosphocreatine into adenosinetriphosphate, or ATP, for energy.

So creatine doesn't give you energy! It's stored to be converted into ATP - which gives you energy! If you feel a "burst of energy" when you take your creatine...there are two things happening. One, there is likely a stimulant ingredient along with it, and B (just kidding) two, there is a psychological effect because we've taken something.

Why do people take it if we get it from our food? People take it to improve performance and to increase muscle mass. When we aren't sure we are getting enough of something from our food sources, we supplement. And it's not just athletes who are using creatine.

Yes, Nana is an athlete. She lifts weights 3 times per week. But she's also an older adult. Many older adults take creatine to increase or maintain their muscle mass. Very important as we age. Plus, I love it when she says, "I need more of that white powder."

It's also used for congestive heart failure, depression, bipolar disorder, Parkinson's disease, diseases of the muscles & nerves, & to slow the progression of Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). It's used for rheumatoid arthritis, and for muscular dystropies as well.

The use of creatine can cause stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea. It also causes weight gain due to it's muscle volumizing effect. It draws water from our body into our muscles. Our muscles are about 70% water. So, we want to be sure to drink plenty of water when we're taking creatine.

People complain about this effect, but it's doing it's job. When our muscles are fully hydrated and full of energy at the ready, we can convert that energy...do more work, recruit more fibers and increase our muscle mass. That's what we want!

In high doses it's thought to be harmful to the kidneys, liver and to heart function. But studies haven't concluded this yet. It can also cause irregular heart beat for some people.

There are many cases where loading is appropriate. It is however generally accepted that for the average user (all us athletes out here) loading is not necessary unless we might be vegetarians with very restricted diets. That being said, a typical dosing is accepted to be between 2-5 gm/day. It is best taken following your workout, combined with your post workout shake.

There's the skinny on creatine. It's up to you to determine if you should take it. It's a relatively inexpensive performance enhancing tool. And  as in most cases, more isn't better. Ladies, the 5 gm dose is for the guys. If your tummy hurts, check your dosing.

And quit worrying about the weight gain. Your goal is to add a few pounds of muscle this year. You'll discontinue use of the creatine in plenty of time to drop that water weight before your show. My advice, stay off the scale. *Smile*

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Static Cling, Too Extreme?

by Kris Pitcher

I could have been taking things to extremest measures when at the last minute I put on a slip for my slip. I was running out the door when I realized my dress was clinging to my tights between my knee high boots and the point on my thighs at which my full slip ended.

In the cold dry air I knew that seven inch gap was going to be a big problem. Rushing out to a community breakfast where I would be representing my institution...I needed a slip for my slip. So, I carefully stepped into the second slip boots and all and was out the door.

We often take our exercise or dieting efforts to extreme measures without a second thought. But even those of us who exceed the bounds of moderation can spot a true wacko a mile a way. We see it a lot in this industry. Extremism and wackos that is.

Maybe I'm a skeptic because I'm cautious of someone who's got something to sell me. Or maybe I tend to question someone who is convinced their way is the only way. But I'm certainly wary of the person who is way off to the end of the spectrum on an issue.

There is a lot of information to sift through, and many ways of doing things. Science backs our choices and informs our decisions about which methods we choose. We shouldn't follow extremists, their fads, or their magic "programs", "potions", or "protocols".

Sometimes you need a slip for your slip (when the conditions are just right) and most of the time you don't. Know where you are on the spectrum and watch for extremists trying to get you to drink the cool aid. When you understand the science you can make your own decisions.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sorry For What?

by Kris Pitcher

You're sorry? Sorry for what?! When I see you out at social engagements...you do not owe me an explanation. I am not the food police. I am also not the cocktail police. I am not counting how many trips you've made to the buffet table or the champagne fountain.

You don't have to explain how you're going to work off what ever you're indulging in, or go into some strange story about how this extra party food fits into your plan. Just. Eat. It.

See, the thing is you are your conscience. Not me. It frankly makes me feel awkward. I smile and nod and tell you to enjoy yourself. I tell you it's all about balance this time of year. Yadda. Yadda.

And the point, there is nothing to apologize for. Nothing. Just enjoy yourself and your choices. Let the guilt go. Stop looking over your shoulder for the party police. They don't exist.

Make your choices, and then enjoy them. Stop feeling like you need to sneak around or apologize. I know you're a normal person. We all are normal people - give or take.

Be your own conscience. Don't put that on any external force. Sure accountability is a great thing. We are all accountable to others in our support system. But mostly, we're accountable to ourselves.

Enjoy yourself in moderation. Eat what you're supposed to eat most of the time. Don't get sideways with your exercise. Make time for yourself. Tis the season! Enjoy it, it's your choice.

Monday, December 5, 2011

In All Fairness

by Kris Pitcher

I was gazing longingly at my husband across the living room as he was about to lick the dripping jam from his peanut butter and jam rice cake sandwich. I leaned toward him and I said, "I want that!"

"You can have it if you want to be 200 pounds too." he said. I laughed out loud. It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. See, on top of all his required meals of precise macro nutrients...he needs to supplement with extras. PB&J, raisin bread toast, pop corn. You name it. Pretty much what ever he wants.

The point is, he's trying to reach 200 pounds...and quick. Me on the other hand, I'm trying to hold on at 130ish. Our goals are different. The point is in all fairness - there is no fairness in food. Period.

I know a lot of ladies who keep up with the men in their lives in terms of the amount of food they put away. It's no wonder then that they are looking like linebackers is it? It isn't.

So, if I'm sitting there thinking "boy it sure isn't fair that he gets to eat peanut butter sandwiches before bed and I get egg whites" my head is in the wrong place. There is no fairness involved. Our. Goals. Are. Different.

You have to eat what's right for your plan, your goals, and for what is going to fuel your needs. Eating isn't about what's fair. It's simply about what's fuel.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Time To Be A Big Girl

by Kris Pitcher

"Sitting like a big girl," she crooned as her little body rocked on the waiting room chair. Her mother corralled two boys while retrieving the knit cap the baby had thrown from the stroller. I watched from across the room...

The girl's pig-tails bounced back and forth and as her mother was distracted she slid from the chair. Her hands followed its rails, then she crouched on the floor just in front of it. With fingers spread wide she palmed the tile floor, little fingers following the grout lines. She put her hands out in front of her and then made a circle on the floor all around her until they met the rails of the chair.

She scooted back up and smiled and said, "Sitting like a big girl." Mom was having a conversation with the oldest boy who was maybe six. She was explaining that indeed he could not have a cup of coffee, or a capuccino, from the machine in the waiting room of the tire store. She went on to tell him he was the oldest boy there and was acting like a baby.

I listened from across the room...through all this chaos mom had one hand on or near the girl. As she'd sat her down, she had taken her tiny white cane with the red ball on the end and attached it to the baby's stroller.

When the dad came into the store the young mother looked at him with eyes that could only say, "help me". Three kids in diapers, a six year old who wants to drink coffee and a darling little pig-tailed girl trying to navigate the world without her sight.

And I thought my life was complicated...I think about this young mother on the days when I don't want to drag myself out of bed to do my cardio. I think about her when I'm sitting on the couch trying to decide if I want to wait until the commercial to pack my gym bag for the next day, or just do it in the morning.

We all juggle a lot, some juggle a lot more. Look around you and think of the last excuse you made...silly isn't it? Be a big girl!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Raise Your Empty Cup!

by Kris Pitcher

I don't mind washing the laundry, or folding it for that matter. But when it comes to putting the laundry away...I'm at a standoff. I can easily put my husband's laundry away. Socks in this drawer, t-shirts over here etc. Yet somehow when I look at my own drawers I don't like what I see.

First of all my drawers are already full. I can hardly stuff another thing in there. Second, I don't even like what's in there. I just kind of wear the same things that fit in the 3 loads of laundry I do each week. Hmm?

And things are rubbing me the wrong way. I mean, the season is changing, and it's also off-season...so I'm changing. And I just feel like everything is strangling me. So, I thought of a solution.

It's time to empty my cup. My cup? That's right, it's time to empty my cup. It's too full. Literally! When our cup is too full, we can't make room for other things in our life. There is no room for new opportunities, or for new experiences.

If our cup is always full we aren't open to new ideas, to new ways of doing things or to new paths in our lives. Empty your cup. What is keeping you from allowing new possibilities into your life? What is filling up your "drawers" with stuff you don't like? Taking up space in your life?

So, I'm going to empty my cup, and my drawers. I'm going to change out the seasons - that's dieting vs. off-season, so I don't have to look at those size four pants which won't fit for awhile. Tiny tank tops...outta there! I need to make room for new possibilities.

This is a great time of year to empty your cup both literally and figuratively. Give to those in need and allow for opportunity to come into your life. Make room for a new way of doing things, or for a new path to take its course. Raise your empty cup!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mind Muscle Connection

by Kris Pitcher

There is great benefit to slower and lower when it comes to pushing the weights. It's tough on the psyche...we want the big numbers. But depending on what our goal is it just might be to our advantage to lighten up.

Making the mind muscle connection is very powerful. Putting your mental focus on your working muscle through the eccentric (lengthening) and concentric (contracting) phases of the lift is very beneficial.

But in order to do that we have to sacrifice a little bit of weight in order to slow things down and control the movement. Often when we're pushing the big numbers we've got momentum and gravity on our side. The big problem with that is propensity for injury.

Feeling the full contraction and squeezing through each repetition is the mind muscle connection in action. Controlling the movement and feeling each contraction allows you to actually recruit more fibers and work harder than just pushing more weight.

What's the benefit? Better recruitment means better symmetry, it also means greater growth. We also take out the involvement of our antagonist muscles when we work slow and controlled. For instance the antagonist to the biceps are the triceps. When we're flinging the weights around doing curls our triceps are working to slow things down. They're trying to put on the breaks.

But by reducing the weight and controlling the movement our biceps can take on all the resistance, and we benefit from making the mind muscle connection. We can execute the full contraction, feel the squeeze and recruit more fibers. Yeah! Bigger biceps!

So, put your ego in the locker and try controlling the entire movement with lighter weights. Feel the contraction and squeeze. Focus your mental energy on the movement and experience the improvements the mind muscle connection will bring you.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Get EXACTLY the Results You Want

by Kris Pitcher

Holy smokes people let me give you a tip! When you are submitting your resume for a job...write your resume to the specific skill set sought after for that job. Seems simple doesn't it? I have the great fortune to sit on a search committee for a position within the university and let me tell you, I am lucky to not have poked my own eyes out.

Specificity people! But instead of poking my eyes out...I've come to you to relate my life experience to what matters. Our workouts. Same goes for our workouts. You remember the law of specificity?

You don't get great pecs by doing the leg press. You get great pecs by directly working the chest. We need to enact the law of specificity to our weight training, to our cardio, and even to our nutrition. Especially our nutrition!

As you are thinking about your goals it's helpful to think in terms of specificity. Successfully meeting your goals will require using the laws of specificity to your advantage. If your actions, or training, toward your goals aren't specific...you'll never get there. Make sense?

Specificity means training actions that will directly effect the muscle or system you intend to improve. It means overload to the muscle you want to enact a response in. We can do that in a variety of ways, angles, etc. to keep things progressive.

To become a better runner you...run. You don't swim. That is specificity. When our plan incorporates the law of specificity we more quickly meet our goals. Then what? Well, then we reassess and make new goals! Don't forget the law of specificity in your training. It's what will get you exactly the results you want.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

To Do, How Flexible Are You?

by Kris Pitcher

I thought it was timely that John Lennon's "to do" list was hitting the market place just as I had been thinking about that very topic. Well, not John Lennon's to do list, but to do lists in general.

I'm the kind of person who makes two kinds of lists. I make lists of things I need to get done. That would be your typical to do list. I also make lists of things I've already done...so I can cross them off. Admit it, you've done that! OK, maybe it's just me, but I've come clean and now you know my (only) neurosis.

The most important thing about the list/s is they are flexible. You can start your day with the best intentions of getting your list completed and well, let's just say things can get dynamic.

Most days I go into work with a list of things I'd like to accomplish. Then I open my email...and you know how the rest of the story goes. Someones got an emergency, another person has a crisis, someone else has a deadline. And my list goes out the window while I triage everyone else's needs.

We need to be able to successfully triage our own lists too. And be OK with it. When we can let certain things on the list go, or wait, and not freak out about it...we'll be alright. Having rigid expectations about your list will leave you in a constant state of disappointment. And who needs that?

Be flexible with your daily to do's. Our lives are dynamic, and we need to be able to adjust our expectations around that. Your list can be dynamic too. And no, you don't have to write things down you've already done just so you can cross them off in order to feel you've accomplished something. Geeze! That would be crazy!  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Know When to Say No

by Kris Pitcher

I'm always a little sad coming back from vacation. I just start to slip into a lifestyle I really like. Waking and sleeping when my body wants, and eating and exercising when I want to. But then reality sets in...and it's back to work.

The schedule is actually a relief. I felt a sense of calm as I prepped my meals and packed my cooler for the day. I felt confident knowing exactly what my day would be like. More or less. And as I waded into the many emails I didn't set my expectations too high for that first day back. Ease into it.

And we should ease into the season too. Set our expectations a little on the low side. It's a great time of year to practice knowing when to say, "No." Tis the season to be protective of our time and realistic of our schedule.

We can't be at every function, party and social event we'd like to. Multiple events scheduled on the same day can run us ragged. It can be overwhelming, like coming back from vacation. So, we have to pick and choose, and then say no. Some thing's got to give.

Do you have to make all your cookies from scratch this year? Or make them at all? Do the halls need to be decked and the cards sent?  Maybe they do, and it's entirely up to you. Just remember it's your holiday season.

Knowing when to say no helps us to stay on track with our own efforts and maintain some sense of normalcy with our own schedule. It isn't easy, and we want to make time for special things. We also want to make time for the things that keep us sane.

Enjoy the season and know when to say no. Know what matters and what doesn't, know what keeps you sane and what makes you crazy. Keep things in perspective. Ease into it! And practice your no's.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dear Self, A Heart to Heart

by Kris Pitcher

Dear Self,
I'd ask you to sit down for this heart to heart...but since you're still in bed, maybe you could sit up. What is THAT?! And why are you laughing? You did that didn't you? Stop laughing, farts haven't been funny since seventh grade.

We need to talk...
Oh, carbs are NOT your friend! Put those covers down. Listen, you've been on a real bender here for long enough. You've enjoyed your holiday, the family, the celebration - but it's time to pull yourself together.

Are you wearing socks? When was the last time you shaved your legs? Those aren't socks! Really, you need to get it together. You've fallen off the program HARD. Do you see your shoes over there? When was the last time you laced them up?

You haven't been to the gym in over a week and you've been eating like crazy. Sure, it was just going to be one meal...then it was two and so on. It's OK, we can recover from this. But you've got to get out of bed and take the first steps.

First thing, get in the shower. You've got to scrub down, polish up and get yourself in order. You might as well get right into your workout clothes. Next, you need to do some food prep. You know the drill, let's get some lean protein ready to go. And where are those veggies?

Clean out the carbs. What is that? Is that cereal? We don't eat cereal. Get rid of that. And get rid of those cookies too. Leftover stuffing...you know what to do with it. You're going back on the plan. Your system is not handling all that sugar very well, and there is no dog here to blame...so let's get our self de-gassed. Geeze!

It's off to the gym to get back on track. Your workout is going to feel great, and everyone is wondering where you've been. Fill up that water bottle on your way out the door, you could use some hydration.

There, doesn't that feel better? It's easy to get off track, WAY off track. But it's just as easy to pull ourselves together and get right back on. Now aren't you glad you got your gas-bag butt out of bed and back on track?! I hope our little heart to heart wasn't too hard on you. But it's hard for me to see you like that. And I know it doesn't feel good either.

We've just begun this holiday season, and no one is going to keep us on track but you and me. It's on us. So, I'm going to tell you like it is. Besides, you're fowl on carbs! Just sayin'! So let's keep it together, this little slip doesn't have to be a land slide for the rest of the season. I'll see you at the gym!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Carmelized Leek Soup

by Kris Pitcher

Leeks are a wonderful vegetable for soups. They are high in vitamin C, in calcium, folate, B6, iron, and magnesium. They are high in fiber and have been shown to decrease the risk for colon cancer in men and ovarian cancer in women. Leeks aid in digestion and metabolism and act as an atiseptic and help the body fight against infection. Wow! Leeks are great for us! Here is a recipe for a wonderful leek soup.

Carmelized Leek Soup
2 pounds leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 bunches)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup vermouth
3 1/2 cups chicken broth


Halve leeks lengthwise and thinly slice crosswise. In a large bowl of cold water wash leeks well and lift from water into a large sieve to drain. In a 6-quart heavy kettle cook leeks in butter over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until some begin to turn golden, about 40 minutes. Stir in sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Stir in vermouth and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated and most leeks are golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Deglaze kettle with 1/2 cup broth and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes more, until liquid is evaporated and leeks are deep golden. Add remaining 3 cups broth and bring soup just to a boil. Season soup with salt and pepper.