Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Take Your Big Leap

by Kris Pitcher

Welcome to your leap year! Every four years we get a leap year, which has an extra day. You get 366 days instead of the regular 365 days to make your impact.

We get this extra day in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical year. And did you know a non leap year is called a Common Year? Neither did I.

I guess my question is...if we have this extra day, this extra special day - what will you do to take your big leap? How will you make this amazing extra day, extra amazing?

I feel like if we get this extra leap every four years, we ought to take advantage of it. Is there something that has been holding you back? Something that you can leap forward past?

Should you set a leap goal? A stretch goal? Have you been coasting along doing the bare minimum to get by? These are just questions we have time to ponder on an extra day.

This is no common year and we should set the bar a little higher for ourselves. It's rare that we are given anything "extra", but we can give ourselves something extra every day.

Take your big leap! Be extraordinary on this "extra" day. Make your impact, on your life and on the lives of others. Don't waste time though, next year will be a common year. Ready? Set? Leap!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Anything Goes!

by Kris Pitcher

If we take our cues from fashion this spring, anything goes! Bright colors, patterns, and solids abound. Geometrics are in, florals are great, and even big prints can work.

The catwalks and magazines are flush with both skinny pants and wide leg slacks. This tells me there is something for everyone. It also tells me, everyone is...well, "in".

No matter your shape or size, or what style flatters you best, this is your season. We should take this approach with ourselves, with our bodies. If we took an "anything goes" attitude we'd approach our fitness pursuits with a whole new attitude.

We'd feel confident and proud and ready to take care of our self. We'd be first in line to make the best choices to get to our goals.

We'd even like what we saw when we caught a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror. Why? Because it's our season and anything goes!

Our anything goes attitude would put us right in front of the Zumba class, in our swim suit to hit the pool like we used to, or in the weight room where we know we need to be...but we're a little self conscious.

Let spring fashion guide your attitude in how you see yourself. Truly, anything does go. We all fit in. Our colors, textures, patterns and fabrics make us uniquely individual. And that is what makes us wonderful.

Put something colorful on and get ready to strut your stuff. Your new attitude can't wait for spring. Anything goes, now!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Strictly Speaking, On Direction

by Kris Pitcher

When I was in fifth grade my teacher said something which has stuck with me ever since, "When all else fails, follow the directions."

At the time, it was said in a damaging way. I was trying to clarify instructions, and the teacher assumed I didn't read the directions at all...I think it hurt my feelings. LOL! Let's assume I'm over it, but the message has stayed with me, following directions works.

Admittedly, I don't always follow directions. How many pieces of furniture have you put together without the directions only to have a few left over screws? I can't be the only one. And did you read the manual for the last phone you got? Me either.

I realize following directions can be time consuming, frustrating, and confusing even. But the truth is, when we strictly follow directions they do get us from point A to point B. So, here's a delicate question.

Why won't we follow our eating plans, our diets, our workout schedules, which our coaches and our trainer have so carefully laid out for us?

Don't get me wrong, we appreciate your honesty. If asked about compliance and you say, "I'm doing most of what you say," or, "I'm following 85%." That helps us determine why you may not be responding the way we anticipate.

I know it's difficult to make changes, and that there are times when you find you have to improvise. But it's still a valid point, "When all else fails, follow the directions." It's tough...but it is love. *Smile!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shape Shifters

by Kris Pitcher

Our weight on the scale is a tricky thing. I know it plays head games with us...with me. But, I do like to check in every now and then to see where I am.

Sometimes it's not as bad as I thought. I might have been giving myself the mental beat down for nothing. Other times, well let's just say it reels me back in. But this week, I thought things were different.

See, my slacks had been a little snug. So after two pretty solid weeks of being right on track with my eating schedule things were loosening up. Yeah me! I got on the scale after a moderate carb day...136. OK, I thought - I can live with that!

A couple of days later I wanted to see where I was following a low carb day. I had been feeling like I'd made slacks were fitting even better! And when I lifted up on my tippy toes before I got in the shower to sneak a peek in the mirror, I even liked the changes I was seeing.

Before I stepped on the scale I actually thought about it. Do I really need to step on there? Do I need to see a number? What if nothing changed? The number doesn't matter. I stepped on any way.

138! And then I reminded myself what I tell everyone else. The number on the scale doesn't really tell me anything. My shape is shifting. I'm getting smaller, my slacks are telling me so! If I'm gaining muscle, thank the lawrd! That's what I'm trying so hard to do.

My point here is stop denying your shifting shape due to the number on the scale. Things ARE changing. Your scale weight means nothing. Shoot, you could make up any number you want if it makes you feel better.

It's just one, of many, measurements we can use to track our progression. I say progression because for me, I WANT to gain muscle. So, if it's measuring that, great. I don't need to be any certain number, my size is changing...I'm getting SMALLER.

From that, I can assess that I'm moving in the right direction. Keep moving in the right direction and quit letting the scale determine what kind of day you're going to have. Instead, start celebrating the changes that are happening in your shape!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

No Time To Exercise

by Kris Pitcher

I can see why people say they have no time to exercise. Recently I have been challenged by my new work schedule...which I love. But it's taken some getting organized. OK, A LOT of getting organized.

At my new job, I work four 10 hour days and have Friday off. LOVE THAT! But let me tell you it has taken serious attention to detail to make everything I need to have happen...happen.

I've taken to putting four outfits on hangers including socks, bras, underwear - everything I need to get dressed in the morning. There are no decisions to make because there is no time for decisions.

Food prep happened any way, but now I pack my meals the night before so I can "grab and go" from the fridge. Packing the cooler takes about 2 minutes. Everything else I need is in a little pile on the counter, oatmeal, tea, nuts, spoons, one diet twist up (I love off season) - ready to go. 

The alarm goes off at 4:26 am so that I can be on the treadmill at 4:30 am. I may take a note from Karly and start sleeping in my workout clothes (sorry honey). This is what it takes to get my 45 minutes of cardio in. I haven't figured out what I'll do when it comes time to diet. Let's not go there just yet.

Showering has gotten faster. We shave our legs on Fridays only now...TMI? Sorry, but this is how you save time. Outfit goes on from the hanger, hair gets dried, make up on, teeth brushed, cooler packed, I quickly post my blog (smile) and I'm out the door by 6:28 am to get to work by 7:00 am.

I can make it to the gym by 6:00 pm to meet my husband for our workout. We're usually done and home by 7:30-7:45 pm. It's time to eat a meal and squeeze in one final meal before bed. It's also time to pack meals for the following day.

In order to get my eight hours of sleep, which I NEED, I have to be tucked in bed by 8:30 pm. So, you can see it's a crunch. There's no time for TV, no time for facebook, no time to write.

But I've made time for my workouts because they are paramount to who I am. When Friday comes, I sleep in until close to 7:00 am. I do my cardio later in the day. I jam through loads of laundry, go grocery shopping, I write, and I'm currently working on a sewing project.

Somehow, losing two hours in the day has made me more productive, better focused, and way more organized. No excuses, find the time.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Get Great Glutes!

by Kris Pitcher

This is the Stability Ball Reverse Extension. It's a great exercise for the hips and glutes. When executed correctly you can completely lift your legs by firing your glutes. This is your power house muscle for this move. This exercise comes straight from Add this exercise to your lower body workout day and get ready to get great glutes!

Step 1

Starting Position: Begin in an all-fours position with your torso on the ball and hands and feet on the floor. Lengthen your legs and stretch your heels to the back of the room. Your hands should be under your shoulders.
Take a few deep breaths. Notice how your abdominals want to rest on the ball when you inhale.
Exhale and pull your abdominals away from the ball. Try to keep them pulled away even when you inhale. This is your abdominal engagement. Try to maintain this engagement throughout the exercise.

Step 2

Upward Phase: Gently exhale. With your abdominals engaged, slowly walk yourself forward until your hips lie directly over the top of the ball. With your feet together, lift your legs off the floor until they are in line with your torso. In this position, your body weight is distributed over the ball and supported by both hands placed on the floor. Press and hold your legs together so they move at the same time.

Step 3

Lowering Phase: Inhale. Keeping your legs pressed together, and slowly lower both legs back to the floor. Knees should be straight throughout the movement.
Do not bring your legs above parallel with the torso. This will cause your low back to arch.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Better Waist With The Plank!

by Kris Pitcher

You can forget crunches. Whew! Because you weren't doing them anyway, right?! Well, I wasn't. I wasn't doing them because they hurt my back...and turns out there's a reason for that.

The repeated spinal flexion of crunches can increase your risk of injury, or aggrevate existing injuries when doing standard lying crunches. Crunches are also often performed with poor form, pulling on the neck causing tension.

The plank is a more comprehensive exercise incorporating not only the rectus abdominus (used in the crunch) but the entire core. The plank works the transverse abdominus, the obliques, and the muscles of the lower back.

You can create a tight waistline by holding the plank for up to a minute. Start out with 15 seconds, building on that in 15 second increments.

There are many variations of the plank, but start out with the basic plank position to target your abs and back. Let's crank up our core and keep our back safe with this great exercise!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Picture Perfect

by Kris Pitcher

This may come as a shock to you, but I am not perfect. There, I've said it. It's out. I don't look like my profile picture...most days. My hair isn't always ironed out, I'm not in stage make-up, I don't have fake eyelashes on. I am not contest ready...I don't have a tan, and I'm not 10% body fat.

On the weekends, I don't even wear make-up at all except for my lipstick which I put on after I've had my share of the pre-workout drink that I then hand to my husband on the way to the gym. I am a real person.

And so are you. You are a real person too. You're not perfect. This process isn't perfect. You will mess up, you will get sick, you will have to travel...things will happen. It's OK.

Luckily, the paparazzi are not following me. Are they following you? I think of the fashion police and try to at least make sure I won't be cited by them when I go out. The point is, it doesn't matter.

You don't have to be perfect, look perfect or ever reach perfection. It doesn't exist. You just have to be you. And when you are, you are picture perfect because you're you.

I hope I haven't shattered any fairytale dreams of super stardom for you...but if you see me at the gym I'm just going to look like a regular busy person. Relax and cut yourself some slack, we're all already picture perfect!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Letting Go Of Entitlement

by Kris Pitcher

You know the saying, you can't keep doing the same things expecting different outcomes? Yet, a lot of us keep doing the same things over and over, and wonder why things aren't changing.

Some thing's got to change. And it's your outlook about change. See, we want to continue the same behaviors for example, but have a different body. It doesn't work that way. It starts with giving up on entitlement.

You are not entitled to anything when it comes to food. I'm sorry if that's not fair...but it's just the way it is. Entitlement lies with feeling like you deserve something because it's owed to you.

I don't know the last time anything, or anyone, owed me a bowl of ice cream in front of the TV before bed. I am not entitled to it. And neither are my abs. So, if I want to make changes in my body, I have to be willing to make changes in my habits.

It's time to let go of your entitlement. It's easy if you're willing to say goodbye to your resentment. I know...we're digging deep here.

Feeding yourself out of resentment toward, or for, others is punishing you...not them. It's a behavior you need to grow out of. You're not showing anyone, tough girl.

Approaching change with our eyes open to letting these two things go is a great place to start. Viewing change as an opportunity to embrace taking care of ourselves is a healthy place to begin. Don't go beating yourself up over human nature either. Just let it go.

Move on, move toward making positive changes in your eating behavior for you. You can't do it for anyone else. You're doing it for you, to take care of yourself, and to meet your goals. Simple really once you let go of entitlement and say goodbye to resentment. Bye! Bye!  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Is Your Diet Healthy?

by Kris Pitcher

Here's something interesting. In a recent consumer survey, 90% of Americans reported eating a "healthy diet". Yet close to 64% of Americans are obese.

So, 9 out of 10 people think they are eating healthy. And 6 of those 10 people would be considered over weight or obese by American standards. Quite a disconnect.

The disconnect, in my opinion (and I'm always good about telling you when something is my opinion), is about education around food choices, portion distortion, and eating to heal.

First, and this really is a politically charged issue, we've been educated to eat around the governmentally provided food guide pyramid. I've written a blog about the history of the guide which you might want to read for reference.

The food guide really has set us up for an insulin charged, carbohydrate heavy lifestyle which hasn't served us well. Telling the average American they should consume 10 servings of grains per day was not smart. My opinion.

We supersize everything in America. More is better, the bigger the better! If I'm not getting a huge portion at a restaurant, well I'm getting ripped off. Right? We've filled our plates and over time our portions have grown out of sight.

Finally, we eat to heal. We don't have the mindset of eating to fuel, we eat to fix things, to celebrate things, and to fill voids. We blindly fill our bodies with foods we hope will fill our saddness, fears, lonliness and longings. It never does. We are left feeling out of control, and guilt ridden.

So, it's a slow process by which we've fooled ourselves into thinking we are eating "healthy". We don't know what we don't know. If we learn our nutritional information from marketers we're in for bad news. If we learn it from the multi billion dollar diet industry and every diet book that turns out we are also left confused.

Go back to my recent blog about eating clean. Eating clean is eating healthy. Most Americans do not eat clean. It's hard, it takes planning, preparation, and comittment to a certain set of values. It takes going the extra mile to make sure you're fueling to meet your goals.

But there is no fooling ourselves if we simply look around during a trip to the grocery store. If we look in the grocery carts at the items people have's no wonder they are in the 64% of obese Americans.

Pay attention to your choices. Look at your portions and don't feel like you have to eat to keep up with others or to finish what's put in front of you. Find ways to deal with your emotions and to confront your emotional eating. Truly be part of the 90% and eat a healthy diet.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Four Things You Need For Brain Power

by Kris Pitcher

Small changes in our eating can make big changes when it comes to boosting our brain power. Get out of the fog and into your power zone with these four critical items.

According to John Gunstad, associate professor of psychology at Kent State University being overweight carries increased risk for memory problems. There's a good reason to stick with your program. Researchers aren't sure if it's the actual extra weight itself, or the consequential diseases that go along with it like diabetes, high blood pressure and inflammation.

One thing we do know is that the brain processes a lot of oxygen and as such is vulnerable to the oxidative stress of free radicals. So, we should add antioxidents to our eating plan. Add plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits as well as drinking green tea.

Foods like berries, apples, grapes, cherries, pomegranates, garlic, red cabbage, kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, dark chocolate, and wine are all high in antioxidents. Getting plenty of colorful fresh foods in our diet is really important to our brain health.

Did you know our brain is mostly fat? It's made up of about 60% water and the rest is fat that protects the delicate neurons essential to brain function. We need to consume healthy fats, Omega 3 rich foods. We can find omega 3 fats in wild salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, and in dark green leafy vegetables.

Remember eating fat doesn't make us fat. Fat is essential, and it is a power nutrient for our brain. We can also find these essential omega 3s in makerel, tuna, and sardines. Holy makerel!

Magnesium deficiencies can contribute to age-related memory loss. To make sure you're getting your daily dose of magnesium rich foods add broccoli, almonds, or cashews. Taking a mineral supplement may be in order as well. Check with your physician about adding any supplements.

Finally, our brain needs protein too. Protein supplies the essential amino acids that help our brain function properly. Give your brain a boost by eating protein with every meal.

Power up your memory, your brain power and function by fueling for your grey matter. Keep things clear by making sure you are taking care of not just your body, but your brain also.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Why There's Broccoli On The Hand Soap

by Kris Pitcher

I'm a great traveler...modest too. My great news is that I have a new job. A job that I love with an amazing organization. Lucky me!

During my first week on the job, while I'm trying to figure out my phone number and how to log onto my email, I had the good fortune to attend a national training. Scary.

Scary because...I was about to expose my eating habits. Hmm. So, I did what I always do when I prep for travel. I got two and a half days worth of food prepped, weighed, bagged and frozen. I put my nuts in my snack sized zipper bags, and portioned out my whey protein.

Then I panicked. Having never traveled with my new organization I wondered if I'd have to share a hotel room. I don't like to share. It's not that I'm not nice, I just want things the way I want them. I need my privacy. And, I'm about to set up camp in there.

Upon check in I was relieved that indeed I had a single room. Believe it or not, I'm a classic introvert. That doesn't mean I won't take the mic in a room full of hundreds of people. It just means I need my down time to recharge. I need my "me space".

I'm also aware that my lifestyle habits are a little out of the norm. Like washing dishes in the bathroom sink...and leaving the occasional broccoli piece on the hand soap. My bad.

It was a very successful trip on all accounts. Especially successful in terms of eating and staying on track. I was even able to find something to eat on the pub menu when I went out with my new team. Steak salad hold the blue cheese, dressing on the side.

When I got home, my husband said, "I barely made it. I even got hungry...(insert sad face)." But he seemed to find the Thai restaurant and order green curry just fine without me? So, he did OK. He even cooked the beef I'd left to thaw for him. But it's nice to be needed.

The best part of all was no one thought it was weird that I was eating out of my purse every few hours. People were actually interested in my hobby and I didn't feel like I had to hide it. It feels good to have found my little piece of bliss, to be well received in a new place...and not worry about the broccoli on the hand soap.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Eat Clean, What Does That Mean?

by Kris Pitcher

I take for granted that when I talk about "eating clean" people know what I mean. I thought I should back up a few steps and make sure I'm not running out in front all by myself wondering why no one's next to me.

It's just I get so excited! I forget that this journey is kind of like peeling an onion. With each good habit, or bit of knowledge you learn you get a little closer...but there's always more to uncover. So, what exactly is eating clean? I think of it really as a set of values about nutrition.

I have always said that nutrition is a very values laden topic. We make choices about what we eat based on our values. Our values also determine our goals, which drive our behaviors...oh I'm getting all excited now!

Eating clean is about choosing fresh, unprocessed foods. It's about choosing whole foods. Quite simply it's choosing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and good fats.

We want to choose the least processed items, with no additives, pesticides, or hormones. Fresh is good, frozen is better than canned. See? The greater the processing, the lesser the nutritional value. When choosing items with a label, we want fewer items, no chemicals or words  you can't pronounce.

Sugar is an additive we want to reduce when we are eating clean. Sugar increases our inflammation causing all kinds of problems. It creates a challenge to our pancreas causing surges in our insulin output. We've all ridden the sugar roller doesn't feel good. And there's a reason why.

Eating fat is important. And I'll take this opportunity to remind you that eating fat does not make you fat. Good fats include our omega 3/6/9s and we get them from nuts, fish, avocados and the like. Eating clean means reducing saturated fat.

Carbohydrates are important fuel sources. And like fat, eating carbs doesn't make you fat. Eating garbage makes you fat. When choosing carbs you want whole grains. There are a lot of great choices available. Try something different from pasta. In fact, get rid of pasta. Try wheat berries, millet, or quinoa.

Solid, whole food is preferred when eating clean. We don't want to be drinking our calories. Sodas are out. Choosing water or tea is in for clean eaters. Tea has many health benefits. Juices and sugary drinks are also out. Remember, we want the benefits of the fiber from the whole foods in our diet. We want to avoid drinking our calories.

When preparing foods we want to bake, broil, grill, or steam. We're not frying things when we're eating clean. We don't want to cook out nutrients or add extra fats during the cooking process.

Finally, our food timing is important to the clean eating lifestyle. One of the most important things we can do with our food is create a chemical environment for our body. Wow! Did you know you were doing that?!

By eating small meals every two to three hours we can control our blood sugar and increase our metabolism. Eat more, and more frequently to turn up your fat burning potential.

It's smart to eat clean. We feel better when we eat clean. It makes sense to decrease the chemicals and additives we are putting into our bodies. It makes sense to eat fresh, and buy local when you can. Eating clean takes comittment. And in my opinion, it's all about values.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Me Space

by Kris Pitcher

We all need space to call our own. We all need "Me Space". Sometimes me space is hard to come by. We all live in different places with different spaces. Some of us have nothing but me space, while others haven't even gone to the bathroom by themselves for years.

What is me space? It's a tiny space to call your own. It can be what ever you want it to be...physically. It's the idea of it that is important. It's more of the place, than the actual physical space.

The idea is it is your place. It's a place where you keep the things you love, maybe your hobbies, or your books. It's the place where you can go with your thoughts and be alone. Just you.

Having trouble imagining it? Some people have a whole room of their own. They decorate it how they want and create a place where they can relax, or create, or just be. My me space is about half of the finished basement.

I have a work bench there, and my sewing table. It's where I keep all my unfinished projects, my sparkly ideas, beads, paint, scraps of stuff that will find it's way into "found art". You name it...I even have a plastic piece of wind-up sushi. I have books, writing journals...and my essential oils - which I just love to be in the presence of.

If I didn't have actual space, I could fill a tin box with my me space. And when I wanted to have some "me time" I would pull out my tin and create something. It's the idea of creating the time with yourself, and having something that sparks that for you.

When you live in tiny spaces you create where you can. Maybe you have a me drawer. Where you can store a journal, or special things that help you feel grounded. You pull a chair up to that drawer and you take your me space. It's about taking time. Time for you and time for things you love.

Where is your me space? If you feel like you've lost yourself you have a great opportunity to ground yourself in some me space. You could start with a cup of tea, a comfy chair and a good book. Or, a hot bath...or a walk along the river, Take time to slow down and be in your me space. You'll be surprised who you find!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Threw My Buns Away

by Kris Pitcher

I was out running an errand and I anticipated going right back home. Instead I got a text from my husband asking if I was available to come to the gym and do posing practice with him and a client. I said I thought I could make it in time.

You caught me...I wasn't prepared with meals. Now you know I'm a normal person. But, I had an idea. A really good idea. I would just stop at Albertsons and get some deli meat to nosh on before I went to the gym. I only had a few minutes to spare.

Well, it turns out Albersons in stuck in 1979 and they don't have a deli. I don't shop there regularly but it was on the way, in the direction of travel. I needed a plan "B". I really didn't want to go another hour without eating. It had already been 2 hours.

I didn't want to pay $5.99 for packaged fake deli-style meat from isle 11, so I marched out of there and back to the car. And then I saw the golden arches.

I ordered the McDouble off the value meal and used my husband's "McDonald's name" when they asked at the register "Kris". It's easier than Jacques. He has a McD's alias. Too funny. But let's get back to the point.

The McDouble is two meats and one cheese. So, let's see the damage. I ordered it to go, I was in a hurry after all...and I couldn't see myself dining alone in the restaurant. The sandwich has 390 calories/33 gms carbs/19 gms fat/ 22 gms protein...and 920 mgs sodium.

So, I threw away my buns! That's right, bye bye buns! And bye bye carbs leaving me with a 259 calorie choice, 19 gm fat/22 gm protein. For a girl on the run - who's not in contest prep mode - the McDouble at $1.84 does the job. I was back on the road with my buns in my bag.

Did I enjoy any fries, NO. I didn't even get a drink...but I got my protein in and didn't starve that day. Sure, I got my ENTIRE day's worth of sodium in one shot. But since I don't eat processed foods my salt intake the rest of the day was minimal.

In a pinch, you can make out alright on the road. throw out your buns! *Smile!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dear Valentine,

by Kris Pitcher

Dear Valentine,
You are amazing and I am so glad to be spending my life with you! I am so proud of your sense of self and of the way you feel so self-assured. Your strength of self shows in the way you walk.

It shows in the way you laugh and in the way you speak. It shows in the way you share your sense of humor. Your strength shows in the way you share yourself with the ones you love.

Your strength shows in the way you care for yourself. In the way you value your body and your soul. Your strength shows in the way you are unwilling to give yourself anything but the best.

It shows in the way you go after what you want in life. Your strength of character shows in the way you treat yourself and others. And it shows in the way you see yourself too.

Dear Valentine, on this day, love yourself the way I love you...with my entire being. Happy Valentine's Day!


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Sauce You Should Be HOT For!

by Kris Pitcher

If there was a magic sauce, this would be it! This is the sauce you should be HOT for! It's Sriracha sauce. Yes, it's on every Asian table...and my table too. Here's why.

It's on our table because we like hot sauce. But, there's a whole lot of good stuff in that bottle with the rooster on it. It's made from chilies and garlic. Both of these ingredients have great properties.

Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties. It's also a natural antibiotic which the body doesn't become resistant to (like it does to pharmaceuticals). Garlic helps us manage our blood pressure and cholesterol and has an antioxidant effect against free radicals. It also protects against vampires.

Just kidding about the vampires. Chilies have the wonderful capsaicin. This provides the heat to the chili. It actually increases the generation of heat in the body causing a thermogenic effect. It increases our metabolism. How's that for HOT!

The capsaicin also has an anti-inflammatory property. It also helps clear our sinuses. It does that by increasing the secretions and clearing nasal mucus. The anti-bacterial properties of capsaicin help to combat chronic sinus infections.

Magic sauce! So, if you're not HOT for Sriracha sauce you need to give it a try. It has a mild flavor, for being hot sauce. It's great on lots of different vegetables and meats. You can find it in most any grocery store.

Heat things up with the benefits of garlic and chili, spice things up to increase your metabolism, decrease inflammation and take away the sniffles. Cheers for hot sauce!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hold On!

by Kris Pitcher

I see this a lot. I've seen it in every gym I have ever been at. It's in every city, in every state, and it stands the test of time. It's bad behavior, it's poor, poor posture. Now, hold on!

That's right! Holding on. What? Holding on to the hand rails of the cardio machines. Did you know that was bad behavior? I've seen such poor ergonomics that I have had graphic fantasies of ladies arms being riped from their shoulder sockets and blood spurting every direction and covering all of the other patrons. Cartoonish fantasies.

You know who I'm talking about. She's got the treadmill up to incline level 12, and she's walkaling about 4.2 mph, but she is holding on to the handrail for dear life and it is rocking her body side to side so violently I'm afraid her arms are going to pull off her body.

Here's why it's bad behavior. Not because of my graphic novel, Itchy & Scratchy style imagination, it decreases intensity and energy expenditure by approximately 30%. 30%!!! That's one third! The reason is we are no longer bearing our body weight.

So while the calorie count on the machine might boast that she's burned 350 calories during her exercise...she's really only burned 245. And she's going to need new shoulders.

Handrails are important and should be used for balance, any time you are new to a machine, or if you have balance issues. They are also the place where heart rate sensors are placed. But you should not be holding on during your cardio.

What we need to do is slow the machine down and walk at a pace that we can keep up with, at an incline that doesn't make us slide off the back. We need to be able to keep up with the machine. Make sense? Once we can with no problem, go up a level.

No leaning, no holding on...unless you want to give up 30% of your energy expenditure. No thanks! You won't see me leaning on the stairmaster, or holding on to the handles of the treadmill. I need every bit of expenditure I can get. Now, stand up and get your cardio in!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mirror Mirror

by Kris Pitcher

Mirror, mirror, on the wall
I can't see myself at all.
I see kankles, fat & flab...
I see someone sick and sad.

Self reflection can be a cold, hard process. Part of the problem is your mirror is mean. I don't even have a full length mirror in the house. It's dangerous I know. Sometimes I worry about my fashion choices. But, no mirror? What are you gonna do?

None of us see our reflection accurately. If you do, good for you. You've come out of life unscathed, without damage. We need you. But the rest of us are damaged goods. We see ourselves through carnival mirrors that distort the reflection coming back to our eyes. 

Many of us just choose never to look at all. We just pretend if we don't look at our naked bodies...they don't exist. Hmm. Maybe not a good plan. Besides, I think if we looked with gentler eyes we might just be able to stand up to the mean mirror.

If you were to stand in the mirror, what would you see that you actually like? Can you identify something without picking yourself apart? We tend to do that...pick ourselves into pieces. My butt, my arms, my stomach, my thighs, my ankles, my feet, my this and my that. What about seeing yourself as a whole person?

If you were to ask someone you really trust to take a look at you (no, not naked) and tell you what they see. What would that person say? I'm willing to bet they wouldn't pick you apart. They might say something about your shape, about your stature, or your style.

We look at ourselves so often in some cases that we don't see changes. We might think nothing is changing when really things are changing. Maybe we're looking in just one place, but things are happening somewhere else. We lose objectivity. But if you were to ask the person who sees you in the shower, they'd say - yeah, things are changing!

If the mirror is a problem, take a break. Get an objective opinion from someone who you trust. Take a step back and see yourself as a whole person. Recognizing that we do lose objectivity in the mirror is important in knowing you're not crazy. You're just normal. Now, look again stand up to that mean mirror and see what you see.

Friday, February 10, 2012

On Grace & Age

by Kris Pitcher

It's a good time to reflect on grace and age. My philosophy about age is we get better with it. We can't defy it, we should embrace it. With it comes wisdom, and calm in knowing yourself.

Sure, a few grey hairs here or there. But I know much younger women who are much greyer. I keep waiting for more grey hair to fill in the dirty blond and lighten things up on their own. They're slow to cooperate.

A wrinkle here, a crow's foot there...however, sunscreen has been my daily friend for a good 27 years. Your best age defense is a broad spectrum sunscreen worn all year round on your face, neck and hands. Now I do sound a little wise.

I've spent as many years taking good care of myself as the years I didn't know better. For that I am smarter, wiser, more sage. So as the years pass I learn and I do indeed get better.

I know more about what I will tolerate, and what I will not. I know more about who I am, and about what makes me laugh. I'm comfortable with my self. These are the things that create grace with age. The things that give a sense of calm and celebration.

I know much older women who are filled with grace and sense of self. They are beautiful and strong, unapologetic, funny and powerful. Those are the women I look to as guides along the journey of aging.

As I welcome this 42nd year today, I have nothing but a calm sense of celebration. I look forward to what this year brings, and to getting better with it. Cheers to grace and age! And happy birthday to me!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Log It!

by Kris Pitcher

How are things going with those New Year's plans any way? We're into February...and this is make it or break it time. Many of us are making some great changes with our exercise. We're walking with the ladies, or we're hitting the gym still. But, we haven't quite mastered the food. Not exactly? Right?

With heart shaped Peeps on the shelves of the stores and giant boxes of chocolates awaiting as Valentine's Day approaches, we've got some room for improvement in our eating habits. One great place to go back to is our food log. That's right, log it!

This tool works. You know it works if you've used it before. And if you've strayed away...that's why your slacks are snug. Whether you use something online, or carry around a little notebook - logging your food is very powerful.

It's powerful because you are accountable to everything that goes in. And when that's the case, you think twice. Licorice? I'll have to write that down...maybe I'll skip it this time! And off you go back on track.

A hassle? How is accountability to what's important to you a hassle? Takes too much time? Aren't you going to sit down for that meal or snack anyway? Just pull out your smarty pants phone, or tiny notebook and write it down. Excel happy? Make a weekly sheet and check things off, just leave room for extras in case you make any decisions on the fly.

Use the tool that helps you feel in control, stay on track, and stick to your guns. Use your food log. It's your power tool! When you put this tool to use in conjunction with your exercise efforts...look out! Things are going to happen.

Everything that goes in, gets logged. It's that easy. It's the most amazing tool. And it's the tool that will take you to the next level! Go on now, log it!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


by Kris Pitcher

What is our greatest advantage can also be our greatest curse. Information. It's everywhere, and at our finger tips in seconds flat. From magazine articles, to billboards, to TV shows boasting panels of doctors we have information overload.

The challenge can be sifting out what's useful, what's applicable, and what's unadulterated. Let's face it, being bombarded with useless information is tiresome. Feeling like we need to wade through it all is stressful and time consuming. And for what? To store a bunch of stuff we didn't need to know in our over taxed brain.

In terms of health and fitness information determining what's applicable can be confusing. Information derived for a 180 pound man is not going to be applicable to me as a 135 pound woman. I need to be able to sort through that. I can't just go about taking the same amount of protein powder or creatine just because an article tells me to.

Consider the source. You've heard that before. And it makes perfect sense when we're trying to sort out TMI ("too much information" for anyone who's been under a rock). If an "article" or "study" has been published or paid for by a company producing a product who stands to gain from the outcome...forget it. The information is useless.

A study needs to be conducted by scientists who know how to design a study and have nothing to gain but publication. It needs to be peer reviewed, and published in an actual journal respected by the industry. It can't be fluff. Every one's got an opinion. For every proponent, you'll find an equally passionate opponent.

Opinions are just that when it comes to information. Take it, or leave it. Determine reliable sources and choose where you get your information. You don't have to overload yourself with constant streams of it.

The basics work, they aren't going to change. As science progresses large organizations adopt new protocols. You won't miss them. It will be big news. In the mean time I hope you'll keep coming back to Fitness Bliss, where I always share the news...and always have an opinion.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Turn Your Page

by Kris Pitcher

I've got this recipe I use frequently occasionally. So, during the super bowl when this certain item was requested, I pulled down the red Betty Crocker book and began to get out my ingredients.

Now, I have used the recipe before - and I always thought it strange there wasn't any oven temperature or baking time instructions included. The version I use is an alteration of the one just before it, so naturally I just use the information for that version.

You could say I only sort of follow instructions. I guess I thought I had all the information I needed right there on page 175. When I bake, I alter. Half the sugar, replace the fat with apple to assume the cooking temperature and time was no big deal. 350 degrees for 25 minutes works for me.

But for some reason on super bowl Sunday I turned the page. Low and behold there it was! The cooking temperature and time! Right there on page 176. I had never turned the page before. It made me stop and wonder, what else am I missing by not turning my page?

The information said just what I had thought, bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. It was just like the version I had altered from on page 175. But the point is, we should turn the page just to see what's on page 176.

What's on the next page for you? What's right around the corner for you? Even if we're just confirming what we know, we should turn the page and uncover what's there. Our thirst for knowledge is strong, are we paying attention to it?

What did I bake? Brownies of course! Cocoa brownies...delish! But now I'm looking for new pages to turn. And I hope you'll turn your page too!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cellulite Creams, Wraps & Rubs

by Kris Pitcher

Let's talk about fat today. We've had this conversation before. We've talked about belly fat, and we've talked about quick fixes. We've talked about how we lose and how we gain. Get a cup of tea, because we need to just go over this a little more.

When we eat in excess of what we need (expend), our body converts that excess fuel into a very stable source and stores it. It is stored in special cells, fat cells. We convert it to fat because it has a high value for use later. Should we ever be faced with a famine for instance.

Now, some of us store it in our thighs, others in our rear ends, some just all over. We are all shaped a little different thanks to our genetics. And that determines where and how we store fat.

One thing we need to be reminded of is that fat cells never become muscle cells, and muscle cells never become fat cells. Read that again. Think of a fat cell like an empty bag. You can fill that bag with potatoes (for instance) - stuff it full, or half full, or three quarters. Get the idea? We'll always have that bag, or cell.

The only way to get rid of that cell is to surgically remove it. We can however fill it up, and empty it as much as we want to. That's about as simple as the physiology gets. The way we empty the fat cells is by expending energy during cardiovascular exercise, by increasing our metabolism (the rate at which we burn calories) by building lean body mass, and by creating a deficit in calories by taking in less than we expend.

That is the science. It's not my opinion. I didn't discover the science...I wish I had, there would be stars named for me, or something. There is nothing we can do FROM THE OUTSIDE of our body that will empty that cell.

There is not a cream, rub, wrap, or massage that will make your fat go away. I'm sorry if that's like hearing there is no tooth fairy. You can't "detox your fat cells" with a heated wrap...

So here's what those products do. They bring blood flow to the dermis (skin layer), causing changes in hydration at the location where applied. This temporarily changes the appearance of your cellulite. It does not make fat cells go away. There. Is. No. Tooth. Fairy.

My point is not to knock the wind out of your sail, or to snatch the hope from your bouquet. It's important to understand the physiology, the science, so that you can make an educated decision about where you spend your money. If there where an easy way...believe me I'd be the first to take it. There's not.

It's commitment to the basics that works. It's a long term approach to making changes in your life. It's eating clean, exercising most days of the week, and lifting like you're super woman. Because you are. And there's no cream for that.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Step Out!

by Kris Pitcher

It's time to step out! Change is gonna do you good! That's right, cringe...change. We are certainly creatures of habit and I am no different. Who moved my cheese?

I can do this!
The thing about doing things the same way ALL THE TIME is we stop making progress. Life is dynamic, and our health and wellness pursuits are most definitely - dynamic.

You gravitate to the same piece of cardio equipment every time you hit the gym. And I don't just mean the same type...I mean the EXACT same machine. Heaven forbid if someone else is on your machine too. I know how that feels. What are they doing on your machine anyway?!

You go through the same workout on the same machines, or doing the same exercises with the same weights, on the same days of the week. You get the picture. We need to step out!

Out of our comfort zone is exactly where we are headed. We need to mix things up. It's time to try a different machine, different type of cardio, in a different corner of the gym even. I know, but don't be scared. We're all right there with you.

The reason stepping out is so important is that our body becomes accustomed to the input we put it through rather quickly. Once that happens, we stop making progress. And we are spinning our wheels. Now, I don't know anyone who just wants to spin their wheels and not make progress.

If you've been doing the circuit, mix it up with a few cable exercises or some free weight exercises. If you ALWAYS do chest on Monday (which is International Chest Day) switch it up. If you only do flat bench, try incline presses.

Challenging your muscles is necessary to recruit more and different fibers. Changing our cardio up will shake our system and require a little more work, meaning a higher heart rate, different use of muscles etc.

Step out of your comfort zone to step your program up. If you need ideas for what to do get in touch with a Personal Trainer in your area, at your gym, or online to help you develop a progressive program to help you meet your goals.

Keeping things fresh also keeps our brain engaged. And if you're getting bored, well there's another reason to step outside of your comfort zone. So, I'm going to be on all those cardio pieces at all different times...just to watch your face. But you're going to be fine. Because you are ready to step out!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Your Super Bowl Game Plan

by Kris Pitcher

I know you've got the day all planned out tomorrow. It's the big day! It's Super Bowl! Let's make sure we've got a game plan for you as well as all the company, or party hopping that you'll be doing.

First, get your cardio done and get it done early. The day is about to get away from you in a hurry. Once the festivities start, it's going to be an endurance couch sitting event. So, get up and get going tomorrow morning and get your cardio in first thing. You'll feel glad that you've checked it off the list.

Whether you are going to a party or hosting one of your own, you need a game plan. You will have several hours to plan for. What makes the most sense to me is to think ahead. This means be on the offense.

Plan some meals and pack them in your cooler if you need to. No one's going to think twice if you are noshing on chicken and veggies now and then. Take what you need to be successful. Knowing what to choose from on the sidelines will help you make it through the game as well.

There will be LOTS of food. Choose your proteins carefully. Look for the veggie platter, steer clear of the cheese tray, and watch out for the dips. You can have a handful of nuts. And when you want a crunchy treat...go back to the veggies.

For every adult beverage you enjoy enlist the "two for" rule. Two non-alcoholic for every one adult beverage. Go for the club soda with lime, or a diet soda, or just plain water. Either way two for one is a good rule to follow. No one notices, they don't care.

By enlisting the two for one rule, you are staying in control. You can enjoy a light beer, or glass of wine, but you stay in control and make better food choices as a result. Remember we are putting together our offense here. We want to maintain possession at all times.

By going in with a plan, you are setting yourself up for a successful party experience. Enjoy the game, your friends, and a little of the food. Get your workout in early in the day and check it off your list. You can enjoy the Super Bowl, the half-time show, all the commercials, and keeping your program in check. You've got game!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Stubborn Belly Fat

by Kris Pitcher

You know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about belly fat. Go on. Touch it. Do that thing where you make your belly button talk. We all have it. It's something we actually share in common. Sure, we might have different jobs, live in different parts of the world, and differ on many issues. But this one, we share.

So why is it so hard to get rid of these love handles? This spare tire? The pony keg hiding your six pack? Why oh why?! There are a number of factors effecting stubborn belly fat. Foremost, we don’t get to choose where we loose.

Our body will shed fat systematically and this is often one of the last places we lose from. You can thank your genetics for where you tend to store your fat too. You don't have to look too far from the family tree to know if you're an apple, or a pear. When we shed fat, some of us shed in kind of an over all fashion...and some will shed from place to place. We don't get to choose.

We also carry different kinds of fat. We store subcutaneous fat, just below the surface of our skin. This is the fat we can measure by way of skin fold measurements. When you pinch an inch, this is what you are pinching. We also store intramuscular fat; many of us store a great deal of intra-abdominal fat.

Think of intramuscular fat like looking at a marbled steak. The fat is in between (intra) the muscle fibers. This fat is more difficult to measure and many people carry their fair share of intra-abdominal fat. You could say the odds are stacked against them. Losing this type of fat takes time and dedication. Mostly, well time and dedication.

But a bigger issue is a hormone issue. Our stress hormone, cortisol, promotes the storage of abdominal fat.  We tend to lead lives and consume foods that promote storage of fat in this area. The more stress we find ourselves in, the higher cortisol output and the more storage of abdominal fat.

You can see why belly fat is so stubborn. Stress, genetics, storage, and it's the last to go. What's a person to do? Keep doing what you're supposed to do. Control your stress. Do your cardiovascular exercise, eat clean, healthy meals frequently, and incorporate strength training into your program.

What about spot reducing? Well sure, you can spot reduce. It's called liposuction.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Control Your Destiny With Karma

by Kris Pitcher

You know how some people are just frantically haunted? They are a constant ball of nerves, neurotic...and tortured. I believe in karma. Karma is thought to actually determine a person's destiny in life.

What is it? Well, eastern religions believe karma to be the consequence of thought and behavior. Karma is an energy which provides the continuity from moment to moment, and lifetime to lifetime.

As they say, what comes around goes around. Karma is a good reason to "pay it forward", to live by the "golden rule" so to speak. It's a good reason to treat people with patience, kindness and compassion.

Karma is a good reason to do what's right even when no one is looking. Karma helps me rest at night knowing that my destiny in life will be good because of the actions I choose.

I believe you make things happen in your life, either good, or bad. Do you see opportunity, or do you see tortured victimization? It's all in perspective really. What can you make of any given situation, and what karma will follow?

If you believe in karma you really are in control of your destiny. Knowing that, what will you create for yourself? What will your destiny hold? How will you begin to pay it forward, or do unto others? Can you open your heart, or give forgiveness? Are you doing what's right when no one is looking?

And, if you believe in karma...the jerks of the world are in control of their destiny too, they just don't know it. Don't give them another moment of energy. Go on, control your destiny! *smile

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

HIIT Cardio - What's All The Hype?

by Kris Pitcher

I think there's a lot of hype about HIIT cardio. What's HIIT? High Intensity Interval Training. Now, I know this won't make me the most popular person on the planet...but when has that ever stopped me before.

Let me start out by saying a lot of female competitors do HIIT cardio. Lots. Most everyone...but me. So, when I start looking at something, I'm thinking about being efficient. I'm thinking about what the science says. I'm thinking about what makes the most sense to get from point A to point B.

If we break it down we might start with our goal. Our goal for cardio is to spare muscle and burn fat. We've usually got 16 weeks, or so, to burn the fat covering our beautiful physique. This is our number one goal for cardio. To burn fat.

HIIT cardio is done at high intensity, meaning at a high level of heart rate. The idea is we are working hard, real hard, for intervals. We might do 2 minutes high, followed by 1 minute lower...something like that. The benefit of HIIT is we can do more overall work in less time.

But let's look more closely. When I say more work in less time I mean more overall calories burned. However, the higher our intensity the fewer calories we are burning from fat. Hmm. Read that again. The higher our intensity the fewer calories we are burning from fat.

The alternative "type" of cardio is called steady state. We reach and maintain a steady heart rate at a lower intensity. The lower our heart rate the more calories we are burning from fat. The drawback...we have to do it longer.

Remember what our goal is, it's to spare muscle and burn fat. HIIT isn't muscle sparing, and it burns less fat (it's anaerobic). Where steady state at a lower heart rate burns fat. So, you can see that while I'm walking up a hill on my treadmill for 30 minutes vs. doing 15 minutes of HIIT...I'm wondering, "Why are all these competitors doing HIIT cardio?"

I think there are a couple of things happening here. I think, and this is my opinion, people don't understand the science. They just do what everyone else is doing and pretty soon...every one's doing it! Even when it doesn't make sense.

People feel like more is better. Harder is better. More intense is better. More isn't better. Higher isn't better. You're not more hard core because you did intervals. Just saying.

I also think that all these competitors with trainers...have trainers that want to feed them carbs. The more carbs you eat (the happier you are)...the more cardio, and high intensity will burn it, you can sustain. Me? I'd rather not eat the carbs in the first place and do my steady state. I think you're just taking one step forward and two back with that. Again, my unpopular opinion...maybe.

So, there you have the hype with HIIT. You can decide if it's the right kind of cardio for you. If you are just a "regular" exerciser...go for it. As a competitor though, you have some more refined considerations to take into account. Like how much fat you want to burn.