Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New You!

By Kris Pitcher

How will you focus on the things that are important to you this year? How will you begin to put the pieces together and align what's important to you? It's pretty simple, as I've said before. Let's look at a few things to ring in the new you!

New You!
What is important to you? Defining your values is the beginning to any journey in life. If you have plans to make it a healthier year, this is where you start. Get out a pen and paper and scribble some things down. There is no wrong answer...and there is no test.

If you are able to define your top five things, the next question is: Why is that important to you? If you told me it's important to you to be healthy and fit and I asked you why, what would you say? Is it important so you can play with your kids? Do your job? Enjoy your hobbies on the weekends?

Why is it important? Is it so you are taken seriously in the board room? Is it so you age more gracefully? Is it to balance out your hormones? No wrong answers.

Taking time to figure out what you value and why those things are important to you is critical to mapping out a plan you'll be successful at. For example, it's important for me to get adequate rest. That is important to me for recovery from exercise, for migraine management, and for my mental health.

Next, we think about what will we do to create good habits around that "value". For me, I will create and stick to a bed time that most 5th graders would thumb their nose at. I'll be in bed by 8:30 pm. Why on earth would I do this when prime time TV isn't even on air yet! Because I value it.

The alarm rings at 4:30 am and I've gotten my eight hours of sleep for adequate recovery from my workouts, enough to manage my migraines and enough that I'm not crying in the corner from feeling too tired.

So, once you know what's important to you, why it is important, and what you will do to create a situation where you can make that are already achieving your goals. You don't even have to work at it. You're just doing it. Because it's important to you.

This is how you create your happy new you this year. It works when you do the work by asking yourself the hard questions. It works because you gain clarity about what is important to you and why. Go ahead, have an "a ha!" moment. Happy New You!

Friday, December 28, 2012


by Kris Pitcher

I know you're thinking about those resolutions. It's no secret I'm not a fan. What did you resolve to do last year? I'm wondering how that went...

This past year, I didn't get more organized. I didn't read more books. I didn't spend more time doing artsy-craftsy things...I on the other hand, didn't resolve to do any of those things. But if you must, there are a few things which can set you up for success.

Swap it. If you plan to give something up, swap that habit out for something else. Just plain giving up a habit is really difficult. You need to replace it. If you resolve to give up diet sodas (for example) decide what you'll swap it out with. Maybe lemon water would be a good replacement, or herbal tea. You get the idea.

Start now. There is nothing magical about January 1st. You can begin to make changes now. Giving yourself a head start takes some of the social pressure off of the "New Year's Resolution".

Take your time. Incorporating change takes time. Establishing a new habit takes several weeks. Give yourself plenty of time to be committed to your new goal. If you plan to exercise, make a plan to stick with it for longer than a week...

Be specific. Setting goals for the new year need to be specific in order to be measurable and therefore successful. If you say you'll "lose weight" that's pretty vague. But if you say you will eat a specific plan and exercise 4 days a week...that's specific. You'll be successful, because you can measure your progress.

Small bites. Pick one thing to work on. It's not a good idea to go making several major life changes on resolution. Beginning an exercise program while quitting smoking, taking up French lessons and saving the world might be a little too much to handle all at once. Pick one thing to focus on.

You don't have to resolve in January. There's nothing special about January. If there's something you want to work on, work on it in February, or March. Making changes can happen at any time. Not just in January.

There's a lot of hype, and disappointment around resolutions. We set ourselves up to fail, and then we feel bad about that. Do amazing things this year, start now, make changes, focus on your awesome. You don't need a resolution for that.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Quit Skipping

by Kris Pitcher

Now is a good time to talk about skipping meals. You just had a BIG one...and I know what you're thinking. You'll skip eating until next week. Silly, but I know it went through your head.

You thought since you over did it so thoroughly with your holiday meal you might as well just skip breakfast. Guess what? Wrong! It's time to grow out of skipping meals.

Skipping meals is the last thing you want to do. In fact, my rule when I know I'm going to have extras is: Eat everything I am supposed to eat. That's right, every meal. The extras go on top of those. On top.

The big holiday meal? Yes indeed! We all indulged. But guess what? I ate right before and will keep on eating. Why? Because I need to eat everything I am supposed to eat. First. My body is used to it. I've trained it. Why on earth would I send it a different message?

And why on earth would I stop fueling it? Skipping meals tells our body, "Hey, we're not going to get consistent fuel, let's hold on to everything that does come in." "We're shutting down, systems on low...metabolism drop to the basement!"

No sir! We want to crank our metabolism up. Give ourselves some extra fuel. It'll do us some good. And keeping on track with our meals means we'll indulge in a little less than if we fasted leading up to the big dinner.

Get on track and eat your normal meals. Quit skipping out and sending the wrong messages. Give yourself the nutrition your body is counting on by eating to your plan. Get to it! No skipping!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Spiced Nuts!

by Kris Pitcher

I'm always looking for something halfway nutritious to take to parties, as hostess gifts, or to the potluck at work. Spiced nuts fits the bill, and they are super easy to make.

  • 1 pound almonds & walnuts mixed
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 T coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts on baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients in small bowl. Transfer nuts to large bowl, add oil mixing to coat completely. Add spice mixture and mix. Done! Serve warm or let cool.

You can eliminate the sugar if you want to, or experiment with different spices and herbs. There are no rules here. Go nuts!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Situation Winter Vacation

by Kris Pitcher

I had settled in to my winter ways when all of a sudden...I had a startle! It's common practice to pull on the tights, big woolly socks, and bundle right up when you live in a cold place.

Winter showers are quick when time spent in hot water dries your skin out that much more. You tend to make speedy work of the necessities while you're in there. There's no time for "extras". But when the sun comes out on those brisk doesn't just expose the dust in my house...

Was that a spider on my leg just now?! OMG! My mind began to race as I thought back. When was the last time I shaved my legs? Now, thank goodness I'm fair skinned, light haired and not too prickly. We've got a situation!

I've got a project on my hands. I'm going on VACATION!!! I need to get a handle on this! It's one thing to show up in a tropical place so pale your vascular system is showing, but to add this on top is just unacceptable. Even I know that.

How do we get to this place? That's the question. What happens that we don't have five minutes in the morning to keep up on this stuff? How do the weekends slip by with not an hour to have a little spa time?

Those are the big questions. And I'll have plenty of time to contemplate those questions (and others) as I work on my leg shaving project in preparation to go on winter vacation. These are the kinds of things resolutions are made of.

You might as well get a jump on them now. Get your projects going. Give yourself a little extra time and focus. Why wait until the new year? There's nothing special about that time. Then, ask yourself the big questions: How did I let this one go? How will I make time for what's important to me?

Figure out what "situations" in your life you need to get a handle on. What steps can you begin to take right now to get them in order? I'd like to stay and help you figure it out. But I've got wax heating, fresh blades waiting, the heater is going in the bathroom...and I swear a spider just ran down my knee!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Have What You Want

by Kris Pitcher

We've had a "No Gift" policy in our family for some time now. At first, I was hesitant to tell people about it. It seemed like people would think we didn't have any holiday spirit, and to be honest we get some strange reactions.

My husband and I don't exchange gifts. For any occasion. Never have. People think that's weird. But we've tried to make our lives about wanting what we have, not having what we want. As people talk about having all their holiday shopping done and ask us about ours...we smile and laugh and say we don't do any.

Blank. Stares. There's no stress, no debt, and no unwanted sweaters or ties. We don't have to spend hours at the packed shopping mall, or purchasing gift cards on line only to trade the same $50 back and forth each year.

The stuff doesn't matter. What matters is spending time with family. What matters are the small traditions we carry out each year. What matters is wanting what you have in your life. I look around our very modest home and see clutter. Stuff we've moved from place to place. Things we've collected.

Even the limited amount of "things" we do have seems like too much. Why add to it? It's the notion of wanting and chasing happiness by adding stuff to your life. Stuff which isn't going to make you happy.

What makes me happy is feeling grateful for the abundance in my life. For the future we're creating, and for the imprint we're making. I'm happy to receive a compliment when I wear something I've had for seven years...that I bought at a second hand store.

It's not about the stuff, it's about the content in your life and the happiness you project as a result. And while I'm glad we are a nation of consumers (it's great for my investments) I'm content in a "less is more" attitude and I am thankful for what I have.

As we enjoy the holiday season, slow down and do one less thing this year. Spend time with family instead of rushing around. Ask yourself if you're creating additional stress with the things you have to do. And ask yourself if you might already have what you want in your life. Begin by wanting what you have.

Monday, December 17, 2012

No Pain, No Gain...Really?

by Kris Pitcher

If you still subscribe to the "no pain, no gain" mentality you're either twenty-something, you've never been injured, or you just have no clue. Let's get one thing straight, pushing through the pain will get you one place fast - on the injured reserve.

Pain is a message. It is your body's way of telling you, "Hello! Something is wrong here!" We certainly have a warrior mentality where more is better, and it seems everyone is continually operating in "beast mode". Please poke me in the throat...

I get that we want to be tough. I get that we want to feel motivated. I understand some of us over do it on the weekends with recreation. But honestly, if you are a competitor, or a lifter of any kind, it's time to come back down to earth with the rest of us.

Joint or muscle pain is indicative of injury. I'm not referring to delayed onset muscle soreness caused by your workouts. That's a different issue. I'm talking about that lingering twinge in your shoulder when you bench. I'm referencing that knee pain after you leg press.

You get one set of joints and while they are replaceable...that's not a real good thing to be working toward. You are better off listening to your body, and dealing with issues when they come up. Often, you can rehab an overuse injury with some common sense.

That's actually the hard part. It requires lifting differently. It means you have to give up the big lifts for a while. You can't be chasing the numbers. And, it might mean leaving momentum and gravity behind for a while. (You don't need those anyway ;)

The point is, if you pay attention and catch that pain in time, you can rehab that shoulder, for instance, without going in for the cut. That should be your last resort. On the other hand if you just, "work through the pain" you'll be under the knife and out of the gym for a long time.

So, we can work ourselves into a frenzy with "beast" this, and "tough-guy" that...but in the end slow and steady wins most races. For all those super hard core lifters...more power to ya! I plan to keep myself under the weights, not the knife. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Off Season Bulking

by Kris Pitcher

I love it when I hear bikini competitors talk about their "bulking" phase. Go ahead, call me "the name". I am not for one minute suggesting they shouldn't have one, what I am suggesting is it's the most misunderstood period since menstruation began.

I'm bulking!
Off season certainly means something different for everyone you ask. For some, it means anything goes, no exercise, no "diet" until 16 weeks out from their show. When I hear these types utter the word "bulking" I know what they really mean is...I get to get fat.

That's not what bulking is about. Bulking is about putting on muscle, building shape, and making improvements.

It is about eating more of the right kinds of macro nutrients in the right amounts to fuel your workouts. It is not about getting fat, although naturally you will be gaining.

You are not going to gain 15 pounds bulking. You are lucky, ladies, if you put on 4 or 5 pounds of muscle doing everything right during your off season. All that fat. And the process takes time, that's why it's called a "season". It won't happen in 2 or 3 months.

And I don't mean to pick on any one division of competitors, bulking is misunderstood by many. In order to put on muscle, you need to be working hard (really hard), fueling properly, and resting adequately.

So, if you tell me you're "bulking" and in the next breath you say that you ran six miles...I'm on to you! There's a clear confusion of goals here. Bulking isn't just freedom to eat what ever you want either. That's called not dieting. Which is fine too. We all need occasions when we aren't dieting.

Mostly, off season bulking is about bringing your diet up to a level which will allow your body to grow. And I guess that's why I chuckle in the first place when I hear bikini girls say "bulk". If you're eating greek yogurt, fruit, or anything more than 75 gms of carbs a've got enough fuel coming in. You don't need to do anything different to build. Just work differently.

My advice is to choose your words carefully, because you might be causing unnecessary snickering. Maybe bulking isn't the best word choice when what you're doing is going into a building phase. It's gentler. Unless of are. Bulk up ladies! ;)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Guilt Ridden, or Rid of Guilt

by Kris Pitcher

Guilt is really an interesting emotion. There are a few things at play which can get you all tied up in a big ball over this. I'm always honest with you, and in my opinion...this one's up to you.

I listen to people agonize over guilt. Not just about food, but about all aspects of their lives. They agonize over the way they parent, what they said to their spouse, how they left things with their dead relatives. You name it, people are guilt ridden.

When it comes to food, and I know you've all woken up with a carb hangover taking the walk of shame from your crumb filled bed to wash the frosting out of your hair, or was that just me? Anyway, I can guess we've all at one time or another felt "guilt" over our food choices.

Let me explain what this is all about. Guilt over food choices is like guilt over any other choice. And this is REALLY simple. It's so simple you're going to laugh. Guilt comes from an internal conflict when our actions are not in line with our goals and values.

Read that last sentence over...about 100 times. This isn't the first time I've shared this revelation with you. Yet, you might not have been successful keeping your choices in line. It's hard work.

Now, the nuances of it are where we have difficulties. Maybe the goals aren't ours. Or the values. When that is the case, it's very difficult to bring our choices in line. If you are constantly trying to meet some one's expectations, which are not will struggle. The values have to be yours.

External expectations are hard to live up to, especially when you don't buy into them. This is why the classic trophy wife has a hard time not eating chocolate out of her closet when her husband isn't telling her what level to do the treadmill at. Just an example out of thin pun intended.

The point is, the values around the goals must be yours. When they are it's easy to make choices in line with them. And when you make choices in line with are free of guilt. You are essentially rid of guilt.

Simple right? So, which are you? Are you guilt ridden, or rid of guilt? Your feelings around this emotion say a lot about how you're driving your choices, and whether your choices are in alignment with your goals and values. The solution is so simple, and the choice is all up to you.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rejoice in Decembeard

by Kris Pitcher

We have a traditional occurrence in our community during November centered around fundraising. I can really get behind that. But when I heard of this, I was confused. It's, "No Shave November".

Now, unfortunately my husband was not aware of this "opportunity". He missed it. His commitment however uncovered and even more exciting, holiday. Decembeard! He is in full spirits of the holiday and the beard is coming along very nice.

In fact, the following "Dear Diary" moment was recently posted by my husband in, "The Decembeard Chronicles":
The Decembeard Chronicles- Friday
Kris: after staring at my progressing beard and nearly bald head, "Are you some sort of hooligan?”
Me: “You could say that…”
Kris: “But like, one that does good?”
Me: “Well… one that gets into some bad stuff but you still root for me because you know that deep down I have a heart of gold.”
Kris: “Oh, okay.”
Me: “Plus I’m kinda a bad ass and I think you like that…”
Kris: “Sure do!”
Me: lol :)

The truth is, the beard is bringing us closer together. Many times, the holidays can be alienating times for people. They can be stressful and unpleasant. People tend to over-consume in every way possible to self-medicate from all the baggage they may be carrying along related to family and spending time together.

But not Decembeard. It's all about monitoring the beard, conditioning the beard, admiring the beard. It's about the wonder of not knowing exactly what the beard is going to look like. Wondering if it will get thick, grow curly, run down the neck...all questions of wonder.

He noted that after eating, there can be crumbs and such in the beard. I asked him if he needed a beard cleaning kit...with a comb for his pocket. He said he would just wash his face. I argued that he might be out and about and wouldn't he need some kind of, "Road Kit"?

He was certain this process would be simpler than I was envisioning it. I was thinking a little kit with a self closure, those wonderful little soap sheets, a comb, and a wicking washcloth...maybe even some essential oils to rub in there. You know, the beard cleaning kit!

Certain he didn't need any of that, he laughed and made gestures of stroking the beard as though he was thinking deep thoughts. Decembeard. There should be an advent calendar. Each window would show a new progression of the beard leading up to the end of the month.

And the chronicles continue at the Pitcher household. We are on beard-watch. And all across the land, people everywhere are rejoicing in...Decembeard!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Adrenal Fatigue, an Easier Way to Prep

by Kris Pitcher

Maybe I'm just feisty, but I've got an observation to share today. It's my own fault really for being addicted tuned in to social media sites like the faceplace. But I've noticed a correlation...

Many competitors who "share" constantly about being super hard core with their workouts, are the very same who after their show seem to have the elusive adrenal fatigue. I watch those same people post their party pictures of their massive consumption post competition and my wheels start turning.

Don't you think if you kept things a little tighter year round you wouldn't have to diet extremely, do seven hours of high intensity cardio on top of your plyo workout, your kickboxing class and your 3 hour lift sessions? I'll just take a breath here and let you recover from my marathon run on sentence there.

Bootcamp Blasters!
I'm really suggesting a few things here. First, more isn't better and you're not superior because your workout is super high intensity. In might be over training, doing the wrong type of training for your goal, and inhibiting your progress. I realize we're competitive, but we don't have to one up one another here.

Secondly, stop thinking your prep is a 12 week, or 16 week, program. Competing is a lifestyle. Your eating and exercise should be in line year round, not just for 12 weeks. Sure, it's going to look different. Your goals are going to be different and your plan will adjust for that. But if you are "free eating" for 40 weeks out of the're not serious about this.

Lastly, the above two points play into your chances of giving yourself adrenal fatigue. It's entirely up to you. If you start your prep with 30 pounds to lose and give yourself 16 weeks to do it. You better believe you're going to tax those systems.

There's lots of great information out there. But there is also a reason so many professionals make their living prepping competitors, this is a science. Figuring it out on your own is setting yourself up for failure if you just follow the threads.

I've said my piece. The way we prep shows. Think about the way you've planned to prep, and how you've spent your "off season"...what complaints do you have and what might be contributing to them? There is an easier way. I'll see you on stage!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Week on the Road

by Kris Pitcher

Last week, I spent a week on the road. I don't mean to say I was traveling...I mean I was on my yellow brick road. I was on track with my eating. Right. On. Track.

A Winning Team!
Great things happened. Amazing things happened. Predictable things happened. In. One. Week. My body responded like a well tuned machine. My metabolism kicked in and did exactly what it is supposed to do.

Day by day I watched the scale do it's thing. Magic? Not even close. I was eating to my plan. By the end of the week I had a net loss of 5 pounds. This is a great jump start and got me right back on track to where I want to keep myself moving through December.

Welcome to the holidays! Now, we'll slow things down. We'll take a close look at my macros and adjust things. It may be time to add some things in, or adjust things one way or the other. This is the way successful management happens.

It's exciting to be in the driver's seat. To be making the changes and controlling the speed at which things happen. And if this seems exciting to you, you need a week on the road!

You need someone to help you navigate the science, to create and manipulate your plan. To adjust along the way as you make changes. You need a coach! Hopefully you know where to find Team Pitcher. Help is just a click away!

Having your goals clearly in mind is the first step. Knowing your limitations and reaching out for help allows you to get there most efficiently. Get a jump on your January! Get on the road!

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Yellow Brick Road

by Kris Pitcher

If you think you're on track, you better take a look at your yellow brick road. With full disclosure, I was aware of my plan and in all fairness...I was doing my plan. But that wasn't all I was doing. And to throw a moment of Taoism in here, that was part of the plan.

I was forced to look closely at my yellow brick road however. You know? The road leading to your goal. The one with all of your success built right into it. The road you must stay on, and not stray, in order to reach your destination.

As it were I began to find malted milk balls on my yellow brick road. That's odd? Pastrami sandwiches. How'd those get there?

Along the way there was dried fruit, almond milk and even fudgesicles. There were servings of cream of rice and low carb days? Exactly what road was I on?

Turns out I was on the road to being 5 pounds heavier than I wanted to be. Turns out I was loosey-goosey's best friend. Turns out, my yellow brick road was paved with a few too many extras.

I wasn't traveling my road at all. I was going down some other road entirely. Sure, I was eating all of the meals packed with protein I was supposed to eat. The silver lining was that my brain did need a break. I did need to enjoy a few off season extras.

If I thought I could keep up with my husband's ability to enjoy his off season...I had another thing coming. Sure, I could keep up by enjoying the things he is enjoying...if I want to weigh 200 pounds.

As you can imagine, that is not my goal. That is his goal. It is back to my yellow brick road. My road is well traveled. It is laid out in front of me and leaves nothing to chance or question. It's one I can easily follow. And no, it is not paved with malted milk balls.