Saturday, April 30, 2011

Reducing Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies

by Kris Pitcher

Eventually spring will hit the Inland Northwest. For those of you in sunnier climates - we are envious! It actually SNOWED frozen flakes from the sky yesterday. Even so, leaves are starting to bud out and flowers are popping up. With springs renewal come...allergies!

Stuffy nose, itchy, watery eyes, a scratchy throat - these are some of the miserable symptoms of seasonal allergies. And all pharmaceuticals aside, there is one thing that people swear by for relief.

Allergies are caused by inflammation. The inflammation is caused by pollen from flowering plants, grasses and trees making its way into our nasal passages and parking there. Washing it away is one way to keep clear of the allergy causing pollen.

How do you do that? The neti pot. A neti pot uses gravity to draw the flow of saline solution through the sinuses. A bulb syringe will do the same thing but gives you control over the pressure. Filled with the right amount of warm saline (salt water) can give your sinuses a bath.

This is not for the weak or weary. Or for those afraid of drowning. If you can relax enough to try it you might just get hooked. The first time I used one, I had flash-backs to my scuba exam when I had to take off both my mask and regulator 40 feet under...I was a little scared. It's not natural...

Bent over my bathroom sink with my feet firmly planted on the ground I pushed the water up my right nostril only for it to wind its way through my sinuses and come out my mouth. I might have coughed and sputtered, but I certainly did not drown.

If you suffer like some people I know, you just might want to try reducing your symptoms of seasonal allergies with a neti pot. It just might work for you!  

Friday, April 29, 2011

Beat Belly Bloat in Four Steps!

by Kris Pitcher

Feeling full, gassy, bloated? No one likes to feel bloated, but did you know with some simple changes you can beat belly bloat?

It's true! Some of our "habits" add to belly bloat. Things like chewing gum (guilty), drinking out of straws (guilty), and not paying attention to the right things cause us to be bloaty. Yuck!

Here are four things that will beat belly bloat once and for all leaving you sleek, slim, and less bloated.

  1. Plain Yogurt - The live, active cultures in plain yogurt are just the thing - good bacteria - our gut needs for good digestive health, keeping bloat at bay.
  2. Home Grown - Grow your own herb garden to add calorie free freshness to any dish - oregano, thyme or rosemary grow nicely in the windowsil.
  3. Non-Fat Cooking - Keep your wok or pan with fat catching grooves handy for quick, slimming cooking.
  4. Lose the Diet Soda - Carbonation plus artificial sweetener equals bloat and water retention - lose it and your bloat by sticking to iced water, herbal or green tea!
A few healthy habits and you'll see a flatter belly in no time. Add your healthful eating, and exercise and look out summer! Besides the benefits to our figure, just feeling better is worth making some changes. Feel more comfortable in no time with these four simple changes. Bye bye bloat!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Performance Enhancing Supplements

by Kris Pitcher

Performance-enhancing substances, also called ergogenic aids, are surrounded by controversy. However, not all of them are banned. There are a few that are legal in athletic competition. But just because they’re legal, doesn’t mean they work or are necessarily safe. Remember, supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and you should consult with your physician or a registered dietitian if you are considering taking a supplement.
The following is a review of the most common legal ergogenic aids.


The popularity of caffeine is widespread. Caffeine is found naturally in foods like coffee, tea and chocolate. Energy drinks containing high doses of caffeine have grown in popularity over recent years. Up until 2007, caffeine was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, but now is allowed in almost any amount.
Research has consistently shown that caffeine improves performance in endurance-type activities like running or cycling by reducing the mental feeling of fatigue and prolonging time to exhaustion. Think about it: How many people wake themselves up in the morning with a cup of hot java? The same concept can be applied to exercise. A dose of 400 to 600 mg is usually enough to produce benefits, but the amount needed varies according to your habitual use. People who use caffeine regularly may find that the effect wears off as they develop a tolerance. For most people, caffeine does not have many serious side effects. But don’t take it for granted; caffeine is still a form of a drug, and toxicity can occur (typically in response to an overdose of caffeine pills) and has serious and potentially fatal health consequences.


Creatine is one of the most popular supplements. It is used by athletes who perform short bursts of activity in sports like jumping, sprinting and weightlifting. Creatine is naturally manufactured by the body. It works to replenish an important energy pathway that typically lasts up to 15 to 30 seconds after beginning activity. A good body of research proves that creatine is useful for increasing strength, power output, muscle mass and high-intensity exercise performance.
The short-term side effects of creatine are mild and no significant long-term side effects are currently known.


Carnitine is a substance found naturally in the body that helps move fat into the mitochondria, the fat-burning department of the cell, where it is broken down to produce energy. Since carnitine plays such a central role in burning fat, supplement manufacturers claim that taking more carnitine will help you burn more fat. Others claim that it is important for muscular function and athletic performance. The good news is that at the recommended doses, carnitine does not appear to have any serious side effects. The bad news is that despite years of research, there is no reliable evidence that carnitine supplementation contributes to weight loss or improved athletic performance.

Amino Acids and Whey Peptide Proteins

Protein supplementation is a popular practice by athletes. Athletes have greater protein needs than the average individual due to increased levels of muscle growth and higher energy needs. However, this amount is generally met through the normal diet. There is also evidence that a combination of protein and carbohydrates consumed following a workout may help build muscle and aid recovery. There are other supplementation practices that involve specific amino acids, the units that make up protein.
Whey Peptide Proteins—Whey peptide proteins are a collection of proteins derived from the manufacture of cheese from cow’s milk and are a concentrated source of quality protein. They are often used to accelerate muscle development, aid in recovery and potentially manage degenerative, immune and metabolic diseases.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)—BCAAs may improve endurance activities by reducing fatigue, but so far, research is this area demonstrates mixed results.
Glutamine—Glutamine is used to combat muscle breakdown and improve recovery from exercise. Athletes suffering from overtraining syndrome may show lower levels of circulating glutamine, hence the argument for supplementation. However, the results of research on this amino acid are mixed.
Arginine—Arginine is useful for individuals who have growth hormone deficiencies and urea synthesis problems, but research does not support any additional benefits from supplementation.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Exercise Prevents Suicide

by Kris Pitcher

As I stepped on the treadmill the lady next to me said, "At least the rain held off yesterday." Looking out the floor to ceiling windows to the wet, gloomy, grey day I said, "Yeah, I hope you enjoyed 'Spring'!"

"Well, I made it here anyway." She said. "At least I didn't commit suicide." I let out a laugh, but as I turned and looked into her overly painted eyes the furrow in her brow caused a lump to rise in my throat. "Today was really hard." She said. As the words came, I realized she wasn't joking.

We walked side by side in silence for what was the longest fifteen minutes I'd spent for some time. The air felt thick around me. I listened to her was awkward. She was sort of jogging at 2.5 MPH. It was like her mind was racing but her body was in slow motion. It's not often I'm at a loss for words.

At the same time, I'm comfortable not filling space with words. I'm OK just being with someone, without speaking. I finished my fifteen minutes, brought the incline down and looked into her painful eyes. A smile crept across her face and I said, "I'm glad you made it in, we'll hope for sunnier skies."

I'll be looking for her at the gym - and you should keep your eyes out too, after all...exercise prevents suicide.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sharing a Spark Of Fitness Bliss

by Kris Pitcher

Sometimes I think we don't realize the impact we have the capacity to make in the lives of others. The encouragement you give someone may mean the difference between them making a change...or not. Those moments can be life altering.

Taking time to stop and listen, and to encourage someone could be just the thing they've been waiting for. It's easy to go along and feel insignificant, like no one pays attention to us, or we aren't making a difference. Yet, sharing a tiny spark with just one person creates a ripple effect.

Your enthusiasm is contagious, you are a role model and people are paying attention. What if you shared that spark with just a few people? Think of the impact you have the capacity to make.

A few encouraging words to let someone know you've noticed they're making changes can go a long way. Think about how many times you might have started and stopped. Would it have helped - does it help, to have a spark of energy - of bliss in your day?

I sure know it helps me. Feeling connected to all of you and hearing your feedback truly energizes me. Did you know you shared that impact? Take that knowledge and share Fitness Bliss with others. We just might make a difference in the world. Thanks for being part of the bliss!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Should You Go On A Sugar Fast?

by Kris Pitcher

This may be an opportune time to talk about going on a sugar fast. We've talked about the role sugar plays in your diet, it's effects on you physiologically and hormonally. We know about the body's desire for consistency (homeostasis) in our blood sugar levels. So, put down the chocolate bunny ears and listen up!

A dump of sugar, oh say in the form of a handful of jelly beans, puts your pancreas into overdrive dishing out insulin. The insulin moves that sugar out of your bloodstream and into storage...for later. This my friends is the roller coaster. We've all been on it. It happens quickly, and cue "the crash".

It's not just in the form of all that stuff from the kid's baskets yesterday. It's all the refined, simple carbohydrates that make up the majority of the diet Americana. Everything processed, in a box, on the shelf essentially causes the same rise and fall in our delicate physiological ecosystem.

Cutting it out is as easy as 1 - 2 - 3!

  1. Ditch the foods with sugar (and any sneaky derivation thereof) in the ingredient list.
  2. Replace with "nature's dessert" - fruit, 3 fist sized servings per day.
  3. Couple your fruit with a serving of protein to slow its digestion.
You'll feel better immediately, you'll experience less abdominal bloating, and having a more regular blood sugar level will help your mood too. Remember our body wants things nice and even, smooth, consistent and reliable. Eating healthy meals spread throughout the day does just the trick. Should you go on a sugar fast? It depends on how great you want to feel! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Perfect Food!

by Kris Pitcher

The egg is just about the perfect food! A single large egg has 71 calories, 5 gms of fat, 6 gms of protein, 211 mgs of cholesterol and 70 mgs of sodium. The egg is a complete protein with a beautiful amino acid profile, meaning it has all of the essential amino acids in the proper proportions. Seriously, the incredible egg! Get crackin'!

Here are the top ten reasons you should eat eggs in celebration of Easter!
1. Eggs are great for the eyes. According to one study, an egg a day may prevent macular degeneration due to the carotenoid content, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin. Both nutrients are more readily available to our bodies from eggs than from other sources.
2. In another study, researchers found that people who eat eggs every day lower their risk of developing cataracts, also because of the lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs.
3. One egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and all 9 essential amino acids.
4. According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, there is no significant link between egg consumption and heart disease. In fact, according to one study, regular consumption of eggs may help prevent blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks.
5. They are a good source of choline. One egg yolk has about 300 micrograms of choline. Choline is an important nutrient that helps regulate the brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system.
6. They contain the right kind of fat. One egg contains just 5 grams of fat and only 1.5 grams of that is saturated fat.
7. New research shows that, contrary to previous belief, moderate consumption of eggs does not have a negative impact on cholesterol. In fact, recent studies have shown that regular consumption of two eggs per day does not affect a person's lipid profile and may, in fact, improve it. Research suggests that it is saturated fat that raises cholesterol rather than dietary cholesterol.
8. Eggs are one of the only foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D.
9. Eggs may prevent breast cancer. In one study, women who consumed at least 6 eggs per week lowered their risk of breast cancer by 44%.
10. Eggs promote healthy hair and nails because of their high sulphur content and wide array of vitamins and minerals. Many people find their hair growing faster after adding eggs to their diet, especially if they were previously deficient in foods containing sulphur or B12.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chocolate Salami

by Kris Pitcher

If you're looking to break out of the rabbit rut for Easter, try the 'chocolate salami'. This is an Italian treat, disguised as a salami. Cut in cross sections the dark chocolate looks like meat, and the cookie bits resemble the fat, all rolled in powdered sugar looking like the "skin" of the salami. Who doesn't love a meat look-a-like?

Chocolate Salami
1/2 c honey
1/2 c butter, melted, plus extra
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 c cocoa owder
7 ounces sweet, dry cookies (vanilla wafers), crushed
1/2 c powdered sugar

Mix together the honey, butter, granulated sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in the crushed cookies. Coat a sheet of parchment paper with the extra butter. Transfer the mixture to the center of the paper. Shape into a log about 14" long and about 1 1/2 to 2 inches around. Wrap the log with the paper. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Unwrap the log, then roll it in the powdered sugar. Slice and serve!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Your Worst Exercise Mistake

by Kris Pitcher

When you've been going to the same gym for a long time, you notice people. The same people, year after year. Some of them make slight changes, very few make transformative changes, and most just stay the same...Every. Year.

As I talk to people about making changes - about what their goals are - there usually looms an elephant in the room. It's an attitude really, and it's your worst exercise mistake.

It's the one thing holding you back from making progress toward your goals, toward actually fitting into those jeans you have in the back of your closet. The thing is, you think because you can eat whatever you want.

Working really hard in the gym is only half of the equation. Half isn't enough. You wouldn't try to drive your car without it's engine. But it has it's wheels you might argue? Well, that's just not enough is it? You've got to have all of the working parts.

Your nutrition is such a powerful component to your program, it can't be ignored. Not if you want to make progress anyway. So why don't people pay attention to this critical piece?

IT'S HARD! It's hard, that's why. It's difficult to be organized and prepared enough to make it happen. It's hard to be committed enough to control social situations. It's hard to be different. It's challenging to face our emotional issues, to discard our sense of entitlement, and to get honest about what's "eating us".

Continuing with a crippling attitude is a mistake. If you're wondering why you're not making the progress you want, take an attitude check. You might just be making your worst exercise mistake.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Great Oral, For Good Health!

by Kris Pitcher

Great oral care and hygiene are really important to your overall health. You didn't think we were talking about something else here, did you? 

I have always loved going to the dentist. I know I might be the minority. But I grew up valuing good oral care and having great experiences. Except when I got my mouth washed out with soap...

My teeth aren't perfect, but I never needed braces. I'm a grinder and I've got crowns to prove it. I've even broken don't want to get between me and my molars. 

Brushing and flossing regularly (and you know how I love my floss) is the key to great oral care. At my recent appointment, I had a chance to brag to the hygienist that I am indeed a good spitter - as she handed me a moist wipe just in case I missed the cup after my fluoride treatment. It's a hidden talent, what can I say. 

Your check up reveals important things about your health. You can actually detect vitamin deficiencies in your mouth. Not getting enough iron can cause sores at the corners of the mouth, and can lead to a sore tongue. Vitamin C deficiency causes gums to easily bruise and bleed, and may lead to tooth loss. Vitamin D deficiency boosts the risk of jaw fracture and gum disease. So, it's important to have your mouth checked out.

Good oral hygiene habits also help reduce the amount of bacteria in your blood stream. Every time you brush your teeth you release some bacteria into your mouth. That's not usually a problem. But when your gums are inflamed from gingivitis or other problems, you release a much higher load of bacteria, and that can contribute to health problems. The best way to prevent inflammation and gum disease is to brush and floss your teeth regularly. 

You're also going to be screened for oral cancer...that's why they grab your tongue and look all around. So, besides having smooth clean pearly whites, it's important to have your regular dental check ups. Besides, you get your little bag of goodies...including a tiny thing of floss!

For the sake of your overall health, you need to be great with your oral health care too! Smile!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Random Acts, No One's Looking!

by Kris Pitcher

Do you ever catch yourself looking around...hoping you're not on candid camera? I certainly do. Especially when I'm doing something dorky - like moon walking in my socks on the kitchen floor. I'm not the only one am I?

In fact, I've seen you give the grocery cart a heft push, look left - then right, mount the back of that baby and fly across the parking lot! We all engage in these random acts when no one's looking.

Of particular health benefit are RAD's - Random Acts of Dance. The RAD dates back to...well I have no idea. But people have been engaging in the RAD since the beginning of time. Why? Because it makes us feel good. It's a tremendous stress reliever to move our bodies, and couple that with music and you've got the power of the RAD.

It's not always pretty. And it is done in public places...I've seen it. I've even done it. You've heard of the "Happy Dance"? Same thing as the RAD. Increased blood flow, oxygen uptake and a smile across your face are some of the benefits.

I come from a family of lovers not fighters, and in our household...we "hug it out". But why not RAD it out? Shake loose of the stress of your lives, put things into perspective and dance it out. Go on, no one's looking!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Packed and Ready to Go! The Journey Begins!

by Kris Pitcher

Getting ready to make changes is like getting ready for a road trip. You have some planning and organizing to do. You spend some time getting excited, you kind of have to get yourself "packed" and ready for the journey. Most of all you have to get your head in the right place.

Easing in is better than jumping in. The "easing in" period is your time to get yourself used to the idea of making change. It's your chance to begin to clean things prepare your environment. It's also your chance to get clear on your values and vision - for the journey.

Your values and vision are going to be your map to success. Without them, you'll be lost and it will be difficult to stay on track. Use your easing in period to really clarify why this is so important to you and to be clear about what outcome you want. As you do, your path becomes less cluttered. It's easier to see your way and you're less likely to get pulled off into the wilderness.

Me? I'm clearing out the cobwebs. I'm getting really clear on what I want and I have my eyes set on a very specific goal. I'm energized and motivated. I am ready to start a long and tough journey. I'm getting packed, my gas tank is full and I know exactly where I'm going.

My values and vision will guide me along the way. I'll have lots of help and support. There will be bumps along the road for sure...but I'm willing and able to face them. Are you ready for a new journey? Where are you ready to go? It's time to get packed! You've got places you want to be!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stuck? Get on Your Period!

by Kris Pitcher

Doing the same thing all the time can lead to a serious plateau. Coupled with the boredom that comes along with that, and you're on your way to quit-city. When you feel stuck in a rut it's time to try something new. Let's look at periodization! That's right, we're going to get you on your period!

Truly what's happened is adaptation. Your body has gotten used to the amount of work you've been doing, and you need to change it up. In order to make gains, you've got to make changes. "Periodizing" your training means changing it at regular intervals or "periods". This goes for your cardio, and your strength.

When you're considering your strength training you have a number of variables you can change. The number of repetitions per set, or the number of sets you do. You have the amount of weight, or resistance you use. There's the time you rest between sets. Also the amount of rest between workouts. You can change the order of exercises, and of course there are infinite (almost) variations on the exercises themselves.

All of these things can be changed based on what your goals are. You would only change certain things, not all of those variables. Complicated? Yes and no. Working with a professional is a good idea. They can help you work toward the next level by periodizing your program for you based on your goals and progress.

You can also periodize your cardio workouts in much the same way. Walking, running, swimming, and cycling specifically are highly periodized sports. But changing the intensity, duration, and type of cardiovascular exercise you are doing is important to making continued progress toward your goals as well.

Change is a good thing when it comes to exercise. Our bodies quickly adapt to what we're asking them to do. Keep your brain engaged and your body guessing by incorporating periodization!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What's a Drink or Two?

by Kris Pitcher

What's a drink or two in the grand scheme of your plan, right? It depends on what you want. We can look at some of the facts and you can make your own decisions about if and where it fits.

Alcohol has definite direct effects on your body - it contains seven calories per gram. These are empty calories meaning they don't provide your body with any essential nutritional value. It effects your metabolism, causing fat to be stored instead of being used as an energy source. Why would you need to burn fat, you've got liquor in your blood?

Alcohol reduces the blood flow to your muscles, causing weakness and deterioration. It reduces testosterone in your blood and increases conversion of testosterone into estrogen, causing increased fat storage and fluid retention. Women have and need testosterone.

It creates imbalances in your liver causing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), fatty liver and hyperlipidemia (build-up of fats in your blood stream). Need more? Alcohol cuts off the supply of oxygen to the brain, resulting in a "blackout" caused by a lack of oxygen supply to the brain killing tens of thousands of brain cells.

What about sleep? I like to have a glass of wine before bed to wind down. It actually causes increased fatigue and physical stress to the body disturbing the sequence and duration of sleep and altering the time it takes to fall asleep. It's a no go.

Alcohol inhibits nutrient absorption, both short term by shutting down your metabolism (your body has to deal with the alcohol) and long term by damaging the cells lining the stomach and intestines - making it difficult to transport nutrients.

What's the bottom line. If you choose to drink, do it moderately and don't be surprised when it slows down your weight loss goals. It's counter productive. For many of us, it just doesn't fit into the plan. Last call, it's yours.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Debunked! Diet Myths - Let the Truth Be Told!

by Kris Pitcher

Battling the diet myths is a constant struggle. Misinformation is worse than the black plague in the pursuit of health and fitness. The trouble is, there's a lot of money to be made in the industry and there's just a lot of bad information out there.

Let's look at a few of the old standbys...the ones that just keep creeping back up like your worst acid reflux.

Eating late at night will cause you to gain weight - Weight gain happens when you consume more calories than you expend. The time of day isn't the culprit here. The reality is the kinds of choices people make late at night are questionable at best. Likely if you've skipped meals during the day you are more likely to over eat at night. We have 24 hours in the day. Choosing the right kinds of fuel is the key to success.

Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight - Skipping meals actually leads to over eating. It also sends a chemical and physical message to your body to store fat...your body wants consistent fuel it can rely on. Maintaining a constant blood sugar level by eating regularly is important to helping you keep your cool, and to maintaining a strong metabolism. We want to keep burning - not send the message to shut things down.

Rapid weight loss can be maintained - Extremely restrictive diets result in fast weight loss. Programs promising 10+ pounds of weight loss per week are dangerous at best. Much of the loss is water and lean mass leading to a permanent reduction in metabolism. The mindset that you can do something short-term and then "go back to how you used to eat" is a recipe for disaster. You're smart enough to know this is a lifestyle. You only have to do it as long as you want it to work.

You have to stop eating your favorite foods to lose weight - A healthy lifestyle allows for all foods in moderation. The most successful approach to maintenance is to make permanent lifestyle changes including healthy eating and exercise. This means including the things you love into your plan in a moderate and controlled way. Remember, you've got to be able to live with this.

There's no magic to making this work for you. The science works, and we have to keep doing the hard work. It's important to create lasting changes we can live with and incorporate those into our lifestyle. Question new, fancy, "too good to be true" quick fix ideas. With a little information you can debunk the best of the diet myths!


Friday, April 15, 2011

The Most Dangerous Thing You'll Do All Day

by Kris Pitcher

I don't usually like to cause alarm...but I came across this article and it's cause for alarm. The reality is many of us sit for much of the day. Recent studies show people who sit most of the day are 54% more likely to die from a heart attack. 54%! 

And this is a stand-alone factor (pun intended). Between jobs, sedentary entertainment and virtual "activity" we sit most of the day. We've got to find ways to decrease the number of HOURS we are sitting each day. 

Here are some of the strategies outlined in the article. Find the full article at the link below. Now get off your seat and read the rest!

Strategy #1: Take two breaks an hour. Grab a drink from the water fountain. Pop over to the cube next door to say hi. Or simply stand and stretch for a minute. AEuropean Heart Journal study of 5,000 men and women found that the quarter who took the most breaks during the day were 1.6 inches thinner than the quarter who took the least.

Strategy #2: Stand during phone calls. It may seem like a small thing but, as Hamilton told Masters: “Small choices will help move you in the right direction. . . . It all adds up, and it all matters.”

Strategy #3: Don’t write long emails. If crafting an email will take longer than 15 minutes, go talk to the person instead. Or stand up and call them.

And if that’s not enough (and it may not be) . . .

Strategy #4: Ask HR for a standup desk. Australian researchers found that workers who log more than 6 hours of seat time a day are up to 68 percent more likely to be overweight. If you make the changes above and your waistline isn’t shrinking, a standup desk may be the answer. Make sure the screen is at arm’s length, and the top at eye level. Position the keyboard so your elbows are bent 90 degrees. Men’s Health Senior Editor Bill Stieg built his own. Check it out.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The No Crunch Plan to Sleeker Abs!

by Kris Pitcher

That's right, no crunches! This might not make me very popular but abdominal work is overrated. Go ahead...lemme have it. It's mid April and it's time to think about hitting the lake. So, let's look at a plan, a no crunch plan, to sleeker abs.

Most people already have a 6-pack. It's just hiding under a pony keg. You can do crunches 'til the cows come home and you'll still have your pony keg. The reality is we've got to reduce the fat - and this is how we do it.

Increasing cardio needs to be a priority. In order to make changes in body composition we need to be doing 30-60 minutes most days of the week. That doesn't translate into 20 minutes twice a week. Getting honest about the time you're putting in is an important first step. Keeping a log either on paper, or using an online or phone application is a great tool for this. Crank it up a notch!

Next let's get in the kitchen. Trimming off the fat requires a calorie deficit. This is most successfully created by a small reduction in total calories coming in, and an increase in calories out. We just did the later by increasing our cardio. You're halfway there. It's hard to reduce if you don't know where you are right now. Meet the food diary.

Track your food intake...every single bite, gulp and swallow for 3 days. I mean every bit of it. Even the stuff you snuck while no one was looking. Add it up. You can google (I love that word) BMR to find a calculator to determine your basal metabolic rate. Once you determine your BMR you'll multiply it by an activity level to find out about how many calories you should be eating. If I'm a 137 pound 40-something woman I should be eating about 1800 calories.

By tracking my food I know if I'm way over, right there, or way under. Next I'm going to create a small deficit of 250 calories - I'll hardly miss them. Add that to my increase in cardio and before you know it I'm burning 1.5 pounds per week. By the end of May I'll be down 9 pounds and you will see me sporting sleeker abs!

Need help figuring it all out? Let us know at Team Pitcher! You'll see sleeker abs in no time, and not a crunch in sight!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Don't Let Your Waist Line Get Sidelined

by Kris Pitcher

Having a busy family doesn't mean your success has to be sidelined. With every one's lessons, activities and sports you can find yourself spending a lot of time cheering from the sidelines. With a good plan you can keep your success going strong.

Your Saturday needs to start early and organized. Getting up before the team means you can sneak in your cardio and get some meals and snacks organized. Take advantage of this little bit of controlled quiet - it may be the only "you" time you get all weekend.

Put some bottled water in the freezer, start a load of laundry, lace up and go. Once you're back from your walk around the neighborhood, or your trip to the gym - change out the laundry and get yourself cleaned up. You know the drill, the family is ready to be fed!

Get the cooler out and pack it full of great snacks, healthy sandwiches and plenty of cold water. Pack your meals and stash those in there too. Pack those frozen water bottles in and you are ready for a day on the sidelines.

Stay hydrated and keep yourself on your meal plan throughout the day. When you're not behind the video camera or snapping photos, get up out of your chair or even take a lap around the field. Walk the bleachers to get your blood flowing - whatever you need to do to stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight!

Celebrating after the big game? Keep in mind the party is for the kids. Make good choices at the weren't the one running bases all day. Pizza places have salads, and hamburger joints have decent selections too. If you've planned ahead you may even have your meal in that cooler of yours. After all, you don't want your waistline to get sidelined.

Enjoy the sports season and cheering on your family in all their activities. With some planning and preparation your waiste line won't be sidelined this season.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Use Your Outside Voice!

by Kris Pitcher

Sometimes the universe sends me signs. And other times I pass giant billboards. This past weekend I passed a giant billboard that read, "Use Your Outside Voice!" I couldn't tell you what it was advertising. But I immediately took out my tiny idea book (for BIG ideas) from my purse and jotted it down.

It was a sign, literally which made me think figuratively. It got me thinking about how easily we loose our voice. We don't speak up, we discount our ideas, and we think people won't listen to us. Eventually we find ourselves whispering, using only meek inside voices or just letting others speak over us.

Strong bodies have strong voices. And it's time to USE YOUR OUTSIDE VOICE! Think of a situation over the last week when you may have been able to handle a situation differently if you had garnered the strength of your voice. Know that you have the inner strength to express your ideas and assert your needs. Do you feel that? It's a smile across your face.

Being assertive is different than being aggressive. You can assert your needs in a positive way to achieve the results you want in most any situation by thinking about the outcome you want. Once you're clear on the outcome, consider the options to get there, and then choose a course of action. Communicate that with others in a respectful way. It needs to be a win-win situation. (Remember when we talked about negotiations?)

Don't sit back, sit up! And use your outside voice - we want to hear what you have to say!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Crushy on Mr. O? Kris Meets Jay Cutler!

by Kris Pitcher

The bodybuilding competition season is in full swing. And while I know it's by no means main stream...I couldn't help but brag share my recent experience meeting this sport's superstar.

Me, Jay, & Jacques' thumb!
The Superbowl of bodybuilding is the Mr. Olympia, and the current (and 4 time winning) reigning Mr. Olympia is Jay Cutler. And what lady doesn't get a little crushy on a guy nick-named "Mr. O"?

Jacques and I recently had the opportunity to judge the NPC Montana Big Sky Championships in Missoula where none other than Jay Cutler was guest posing. Putting on a bodybuilding contest takes an "it takes a village" approach, so it was all hands on deck for the Friday night competitor check in. I was dutifully checking height measurements for all the figure and bikini competitors when I saw Jay appear.

I felt a little bit like a seventh I wanted to jump around and say, "Jay! Jay! Over here!" I was star struck. But, I held it together like an astute 40-something, professional woman...with a husband. A wonderful bodybuilder husband of my own. He was like Santa Claus, as quick as he had arrived, he disappeared...out of the conference room to talk with competitors.

The big show! Saturday night is the big night for all the competitors to perform their routines for their friends and family. They've got the big stage, the lights and music. It's their chance to strut their stuff and display all their hard work, and have some fun. And we had front row seats to see Jay do his guest posing routine!

He doesn't just command the stage, he actually took a guy out of his seat...stood on the arms of the theatre seat and hit some poses from there! You don't see that every day! Up close and personal with the superstar of a sport I love. And you know what the best part of the whole weekend was?

After the show there is always an after party at a restaurant. Competitors want to eat, and celebrate with their families. And we want to celebrate with them. We'd finished eating and were milling around talking to people. Jay was standing around talking to people and this little girl comes up to him and says, "Can I have a hug?" She was maybe ten years old.

Jay takes this little girl in a full frontal embrace and hugs her. Not just a pat. He HELD her, and kind of rocked her side to side. Imagine what that must have felt like to her! And it wasn't a quickie. It was a REAL hug. When he released her she ran back to her smiling parents at their table. The smile on Jay's face was as big as hers. And I thought to myself...big guys need hugs too.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Do What You Love!

by Kris Pitcher

No more mopin' around. No more waiting for the sun to shine, to hit the lotto, or for your ship to come in. Just plain get out there and do what you love!

Holding onto the attitude of "if, then" is holding you back. "If I win the lottery...then I'll (fill in the blank)." I bet we could all fill that blank in really easily. I could fill in a bunch of blanks! I've given that one a lot of thought actually...

But waiting means you're not doing what you love, right now. And if you're not doing what you love, you're not really living up to your potential...or even close. So, what do you do? You do things today to reach your dreams. Crazy? Maybe. But why not start your dream-thing today. Imagine the happiness you'd find if you did. What's the worst what-if? What if you were happy?

We do this a lot with our weight. If I was a size 8, then my life would be happy, complete, compelling, fulfilling, meaningful, and I'd be the most beautiful princess in all the land. What a load of malarkey! None of that matters if we're affraid to do the things we love right now.

The greatest gift from all this not waiting? Happiness today. Do what you love even if it's silly, selfish, or outlandish. Do it if it doesn't make sense, if it isn't logical and if people would think you were crazy. Do it because you love it!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Do Not Solicit

by Kris Pitcher

I am a good driver. I've been driving a long time, and learned from a great driver. Thanks dad! Following the rules of the road, which I'm not sure they teach anymore, is important to me - I take it seriously. I even know a little bit about accelerating into a turn and the dynamics of finding the apex of a turn.

Formal training? Not a lick. And by no means should I be coaching someone on how to enhance their driving performance or teaching them how to train for driving a professional course.

I have seen, overheard and witnessed good, bad and downright ugly advice exchanging hands in the gym. Just because someone is doing doesn't mean it's appropriate for you. It may not be applicable, or take into account your personal issues, history, goals or medical needs. Exercise and nutrition is not a cookie cutter science. There are many factors to consider when designing a program to help a client succeed. Many.

It's a shame to see someone struggle because they are following inappropriate advice when another approach would be really successful for them. Don't be afraid to seek advice from a professional. I wouldn't ask someone to do my taxes just because they "looked" like they knew the tax codes. I would seek out a credentialed professional.

And by all means, do not solicit advice from someone at the gym who just happens to be there all the time hoping they might know something. Ask for a referral to a trainer who has a background in what you're looking for. It just makes sense. Oh, and I won't be teaching race car driving either!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Reality Bites!

by Kris Pitcher

Hello, my name is Kris and I can't be trusted around peanut butter. There. I've said it. I can't really be trusted around anything...but that big jar with it's blue label, yellow letters bleeding into red. It's a giant jar of yumminess. I want to put my spoon in and pony up to the counter.

The thing is, reality bites. If you know you have an item you need a "safety word" probably shouldn't have that item in the house. Or garage. Or basement. Or in the car.

You might want to strike it from your existence. It doesn't mean you're weak. It means you're creating an environment you can be successful in.  Now, if you can handle measuring out your level teaspoon (P-A-L-E-A-S-E!) why then by all means keep that giant jar of Adams front and center staring you in the eye every time you open the refrigerator.

If you can't...well then, enough said. There's no reason to put temptation in your path. It's far better to think something through and go get it in the case of a treat. If your home is your castle, why not make it your castle of success. Create the environment you need to succeed.

A bite of this and a sneak of that will have your slacks snug in a snap. Wow! By all means don't kid yourself, reality bites!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Have a Laugh, On the Universe

by Kris Pitcher

I just noticed I did something really, potentially, embarrassing. It makes me wonder how many things I've done but not ever noticed...which have or could have been really embarrassing. Maybe we're saved by what we don't know. Maybe the people who find our embarrassing stuff are meant to have a laugh on the "universe". I'm not sure.

In any case. I'm sure of only one thing. I am not perfect. It's not that I go around necessarily thinking I am. It's just when the universe reminds you, it's kind of comical.

Yesterday my husband looked at me longingly while we were eating dinner. I smiled and nearly put down my spoon. "Can I get that?" He asked about the GIANT pimple that had presented itself on my chin. "Maybe later." I sighed. Not. Perfect.

At the gym he held my gaze after we'd had a l-o-n-g conversation with a friend. "You've got lipstick on your teeth." He said. Hmm. I'm glad I married the kind of guy who will tell me when I have blown a bugger onto my face. That's a special kind of bond.

I can give myself a break really, having had the "man cold" for going on seven days. I'm lucky to be functioning as highly as I am. And I'm getting so much better. But it's clear I'm not at my peak.

So, today as I slipped my hand in my pocket to get the grocery list I'd written and attached to my phone via sticky was gone. I'd lost it somewhere between the safety of my pocket and the ENTIRE UNIVERSITY CAMPUS. Not really a big deal except one item read: bra?

Whoever found my list of items must have had a nice laugh. Luckily, I was able to recall the items on my list...including the questionable bra - which I may look for. Or not. Not. Perfect. Either way, we can all have a laugh about this one, on the universe.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bright Flashy Honeybug!

by Kris Pitcher

"Honeybug" read the license plate as the bright yellow beetle passed me in my same make and model. I had noticed it in my side mirror as it came onto the know how it is when you see a car just like your own.

But as she passed, I could see this one was not like my own. It was a little newer, and had fancy flower brake light covers. In its dashboard vase was a yellow flower and from its rear view mirror hung an overstuffed bright yellow bumble bee. It's safe to say this beetle had a lot of flair. A. Lot. Of. Flair.

Now, I could have immediately passed judgement about this younger, flashier version. Let's say, I'm more low key in my presentation. My flair consists of window tint as dark as legal, a turbo badge, and a window sticker that translates from Italian to "strength". I didn't pass judgement. Instead I thought, "You go girl!"

When you feel comfortable about your own presentation you have the luxury of supporting others...even when they are younger or fancier, or different than you. I think we'd be better off if we supported one another instead of passing judgement and cutting each other down. We'd feel better about ourselves and about each other.

So, as honeybug zipped passed me, I felt confident in what I am, and I smiled for how happy she was in her own "self". It actually made me happy for her and her flaired out bright yellow beetle.

Let go of judgments against others, you'll feel more at peace with who you are, you'll celebrate differences, and you'll smile more!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Here's to Friendships That Boost Your Health!

by Kris Pitcher

A new study out by Brigham Young University finds a strong social network improves your health. They say the right kind of friends can improve your chance of living longer by 50%, and can double your odds of surviving cancer and warding off colds. Here's to healthy friendships!

Friends may even reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, says lead study author Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD. And not having close bonds can be as bad for you as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. So, if you have friends who are sucking the life out of you like a pack of cigarettes...well what exactly do you do?

Seeking out healthier friendships while backing off of the unhealthy ones is the best plan of action. We've all had friends who just seem to take, take, and take some more. Those are the people who just simply exhaust us. Spend more time with the friends who make you laugh so hard you think you might pee yourself. We love those friends!

We all need supportive friendships. We need close bonds and loving relationships. These friendships help us cope with stress and feel connected. Surround yourself with great friends who make you feel great! Those friendships are helping to boost your health!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Difficult Conversation...

by Kris Pitcher

Dear Dryer,

Apparently, we have a misunderstanding. I didn't want to have this conversation with's a little awkward really. You know how I always clean out your lint trap before every load? I do that so you don't get choked up and over worked. It's because I care about you really.

So, I was surprised when - well this is hard for me - I was surprised when you started giving me back my socks and they were thread-bare. Hey, don't make that face, I know this is hard for you to hear.

It's just that I loved these socks. They have given me countless hours of cushioning on the treadmill. They fit just right in my shoes...they don't scrunch down and rub on my ankle. And sure maybe I've put a lot of miles on them, but what exactly have you been doing to them?

Don't get me wrong, I haven't lost a single one. I put two in, and sure enough you give me two back fresh and toasty warm. But see the thing is I'm going to have to replace them now and...I guess I just wanted you to be aware.

I'm going to look for new socks. And I hope I can find ones I like as much as I've liked these. When I do, just be gentle with them because I'm going to put a lot of miles on them too.

It's a big deal, being we're partners in this? I'm glad we had this talk...I really do love you - dryer. I don't know what I'd do without you.



Sunday, April 3, 2011

April Fooled!

by Kris Pitcher

I'm not much for trickery. I don't like to be fooled...and I don't get anything out of playing tricks on people. So April Fool's Day comes and goes with no "to do" at our house. But when he said, "Is this potatoes?" I knew I had tricked him.

One of my favorite food "tricks" is cauliflower mash. It's easy as pie and it really does taste and feel like mashed potatoes. All you do is take your bag of frozen cauliflower and cook according to the package instructions.

Place it in your Cuisinart and mix with a touch of water, and a teaspoon or so of chicken bullion to taste. I added some wasabi for a hidden kick. Whip it up and you have a fools helping of piping hot cauliflower mash! I love it!

Enjoy your mash and eat it too with this April Fool's helping!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dig Deep & Think Like a Dog!

by Kris Pitcher

We could learn a thing or two from our four legged friends. Dogs to be specific. Sure, they need their schedule and they like their structure just like we do. But they're always up for an adventure.

Dogs are always keen to go for a R-I-D-E in the C-A-R. Oh boy, they love the wind in their floppy ears - tongues waggin' in the breeze. See, they are eager. They're curious to see and smell everything all around them. Dogs are happy to get out and go!

And you know how happy they are to go out on a W-A-L-K! Wow! It's like they hit the jackpot! They'll even get their own leash for you. Dogs walk, prance even, tall and proud. Even the little ones walk BIG. It's like they are bragging about their person. "Hey, look at me and my person, we're on a W-A-L-K!"

So on those days when you feel like you have to dig deep to find the motivation to get out there and do it. Think like a dog! Find your inner curiosity in the world and let your ears flap in the wind. Go out there with an eager sense to explore and smell the world. And by all means, walk proud, especially if you're little.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Where's Your Metabolism?

by Kris Pitcher

It's 2:00 PM, where's your metabolism? If you skipped breakfast because you had to run out of the house to get to an early meeting, one demerit. If you didn't plan ahead and bring any meals with you for the day, two demerits. To your credit, you were in a hurry...

Once you got to your meeting you were relieved to see there was "continental breakfast". Oh boy, a metabolic disaster. Choosing the best of the worst, you had about half a cup of cut fruit and a cup of coffee. You get a little bump from the fructose, but you're pretty much counting on the caffeine to kick in.

The meeting is over at 10:00 AM and you make it to your desk where you have a stash of almonds. You down a handful and lose the next two hours putting out e-mail fires. It's lunch time and you feel like you've been run over by a truck.

You go to the deli in the building to find a salad with diced ham and hard boiled eggs, or a roast beef sandwich. You go for the salad. After all, you're trying to make a dent in your goals here. The salad is long gone but the hole in your stomach isn't. So, now it's 2:00 PM, where's your metabolism?

If this is a typical day for you, your metabolism is in the basement. You have told your body, "We are in a famine." There is serious food rationing happening and we need to hold on to every bit of fat in these cells sister...because we have no idea when we are going to get some decent, or consistent fuel. Period.

This type of pattern turns our metabolism off. It shuts it down faster than an angry ex. Less isn't more in this game of stoking our metabolism. Frequency and consistency combined with the right  amount and type of nutrients will increase the number of calories you burn. It will turn your metabolism up, way up!

To all the readers out there who still think by eating less, and less, and less you will eventually lose weight...all I can do is ask the question; where is your metabolism?