Monday, November 25, 2013

NPC Nationals, Do You Have the Light?

by Kris Pitcher

Sitting at the end of the dock I stared into the dark water. The stars were bright, the breeze strong...and I took in the salt air. Able finally to take a breath, I took two, deep breaths and then I blinked my eyes, hard.

A bright light surfaced in the water. There it was again, and over there. Pinpoints of light bobbed up to the surface of the water amongst the lapping waves and I had to check myself. "Do you see that?!" "There?!" I asked Jacques. "And there, and there!" I almost squealed.

"Are those jellies?" I asked him. And I was completely in that moment. Completely. Feeling this joyous, childish, love of nature...wanting to touch it, feel it, wanting to just be it. The exhaustion of the four and a half days preceding made me grateful for that very moment.

We had just experienced competing in the NPC Nationals, over 900 competitors. "We" means my husband competed, and we took one of his clients. It was an amazing weekend. We traveled into Florida on Wednesday, landing in light rain.

By Thursday evening it was pouring. I mean the kind of torrential monsoon rain that could cause helicopter evacuations from rooftops. It. Rained. HARD. As I put coats of tanning color on Jacques' client Matt, I asked mother nature to make way for the competitors.

She did. By Friday there was a sun break in the morning and prejudging for the men's bodybuilding went well. More rain. Hoods, umbrellas, socks and Florida. But you come prepared for all kinds of weather.

Saturday morning gave way to clear skies also and we got Matt through prejudging without monsoon rains. He did fantastic. His physique class had 62 men in it. Sixty-two. There were ten call outs. Ten. It. Was. Huge.

But his stage presence was fantastic. He gained experience, got in front of the national judges, and had a great showing. Between prejudging, there were lots of meals, meal prep, cooking, more cooking, and even some resting for the athletes in our stead.

Finals wouldn't come until Saturday evening, a full day and a half following prejudging for Jacques. Holding conditioning, restricting fluids (I'm the fluid police), eating meals on time, taking photos to send to his trainer, constant communication and's a marathon.

Saturday evening would be a waiting game for him. Men's bodybuilding is always last. Did I mention there were over 900 competitors? Once they both had their moment of stage time, having their name called my the MC, presenting themselves, and then...that's it.

But that's not it. Then you wait. We knew Jacques was in the top 10, not top 5, but didn't know his placing. It's not like a local show where they hand you a score card when you walk off the stage. You wait. You see it on line, like everyone else. It's like waiting for a baby to be born.

Sunday I woke and saw light between the blinds. I needed to know. The microwave beeped as my day old coffee was warmed for me. I went on line to see his placing. He presented his best package to date. He dialed in his fullness, while coming in conditioned. Along with making improvements in his physique.

Ninth place. In. The. Nation. We were already talking about next steps on Saturday morning. That's just how we think. Those of you who know me, know my thoughts about the "cycle" of competing. The contest is just one stop along the way. It's not the end. It's truly the beginning.

It's the beginning of what your possibilities are. What will you be capable of changing? What can you improve? It's your opportune time to grow. Use it. Use all of it. The motivation, the energy, the enthusiasm. Let all of it be fuel, in a positive way.

And as I looked into the dark water, engrossed by the light of the jellies, being totally in that moment...I was pulled back as it dawned on me. This is what sets competitors at this level apart. There is something that shines within them in the dark. There is no darkness. It's all just light.

It's all just possibility, it's all what's next, what's possible. The competitor who can walk off the stage fueled by the light within, ready to move ahead through any darkness...can make it to the National stage. And this weekend I was blessed to be with two of ONLY 900 who could do that.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Before Texting (BT)

by Kris Pitcher

A friend in the industry recently wrote a pretty good rant (I love a good rant) about supporting people instead of hating on them. She suggested commending people for their efforts, the things they might be doing right, rather than bashing what they're doing wrong.

What a great concept. Social media has us bullying everyone around us on account of we don't really have to say anything to any one's face. Now I'm going to tell you about the "olden" days.

Remember back in the old days when you actually had to speak to someone to find out what they were doing? You had to confront someone if you thought they'd said something about you, or if you had a problem with them...or if you wanted to say something nice to them.

There were times, before texting (BT), when we actually spoke to people on the phone. True. We would dial their number, greet the person who answered, and ask to speak with the person we were calling. If they weren't available, or they were grounded, we would be asked if we would like to leave a message.

At that point, the person on the other end of the phone would take the message and relay it to our friend, and they would call us back. Huh? We might have to wait an hour. Or until the NEXT DAY. Crazy.

But that's not even my point. That was just to set the tone for how things used to be. But now we just text. And we expect our text to be returned, IMMEDIATELY. If not sooner.

We did have abbreviations, in the old days. And this recent rant made me think of one. Now, I'll admit, I have no idea what the kids are texting in code these days. I don't really care, because I don't have kids who might be hiding stuff from me.

That abbreviation (which is my point here) was MYOB. I'm sure you know that one? Mind Your Own Business. That's right. Mind your own. Not everything that everyone posts all the time requires your commentary. Shocked? I know, it's hard for me too.

Not every single thing needs your attention, your input, your critique, or your evaluation. Leave it alone. Be a bystander a little bit more if you are that person who just HAS to get a word in. It's not easy, we want to be helpful. We think we're being helpful.

You know what? It's not all that helpful. You might know more, have been down that road, made those same mistakes...let them figure it out. Commend them for what they're doing right and MYOB. That's my public service for the day. And a look back into time, BT.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pb & J Oatmeal

by Kris Pitcher

I'm not one for recipes, you know that. Unless I'm baking, I just kind of "wing" it. But here is a great recipe to fix your boring oatmeal. Now, ask your coach if this fits in your plan. It doesn't even fit in my offseason plan, but I can have it as a treat now and then.

PB & J Oatmeal
  • 1/4 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 c berries
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/2 schoop protein powder
  • 1 T powdered peanut butter
  • 1 T all-natural peanut butter
Microwave berries for 30 seconds, remove and smash with a fork. Add oats, water, protein powder and powdered peanut butter. Microwave the mixture for 2 1/2 minutes. Stir and top with peanut butter. Yum!

Serves 1; 317 calories; 12.7g fat; 29.4g carbs; 23.6g protein

This recipe comes from - there are lots there. You don't have to reinvent the wheel people. It's all out there. Make your breakfast a good one!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Weekend Weight Warrior

by Kris Pitcher

Weekends are great right? We can relax, spend time with friends and family, and even go out and enjoy ourselves. Weekends are when we catch up on what we missed during the week...laundry, groceries, and errands.

The challenge with the weekend is the "warrior" in us. If you are one of the weekend warriors who goes out for dinner and drinks, meets up with friends for pizza, or takes the kids out for something special you might be a weekend weight warrior.

You were good all week so you deserve to let loose! Right? You followed your meal plan, did your exercise so the the weekend is for YOU! Well, this attitude puts you three steps back every week. One order of appetizers and that s'mores martini will set you back further than you think.

Waking up Monday you get on the scale and what do you see? Up three, maybe even five pounds. Even when you get right back on your plan it takes until Wednesday to make it back to your starting point.

By then you are staring down the next weekend complete with plans to meet up with the girls. So, how do you compete with the weekend warrior attitude? You stay on your plan. Read that again. You stay on your plan. Yes. Through the weekend.

You drink your water. You stay away from the alcohol. You do your cardio and get your lifts in. You get enough sleep. And, you eat what you are supposed to eat. In addition to that, plan one, or two, meals with friends or family.

During those meals you control what you do, what you eat. You don't go hog wild as if you'll never eat again. Select something moderately clean, and if you choose to drink - have one drink, not four.

The thing is, you're there to enjoy your friends and family. You DESERVE to remain consistent with your goals and plans. And wouldn't it be nice to actually make some progress instead of just working to get back to your starting point every week?

It would be nice. Knowing about the weekend weight warrior is the key. You can control your choices, you can remain consistent with what you've said is important to you. Of all the people in your life, I would hope your close friends and family would realize that's important to you.

Don't let the weekend weight warrior creep into your routine. Keep focused - especially now as we head into the holidays. Two steps forward and one step back every week is frustrating. Keep moving forward! I'll be right there with you!

Monday, November 11, 2013

When is Less More?

by Kris Pitcher

Sometimes less really is more. And for the athlete that can be a very scary thing. I was thinking about this the other day when I was less than pleased with my hair.

It seemed crunchy. I don't have the kind of hair that's soft. You can't put your fingers through it. My bathroom cupboard has lots and lots of hair products in it. LOTS! Yet, I can't seem to find the right one combination that leaves my curls soft. When I counted how many products I was using from wash to finish...six. So it dawned on me...

Maybe I need to use less? Now, this experiment is a tricky proposition. I mean, when do you try this? What do I do if it doesn't work out and I need to get to work? I don't have the kind of job I can wear a hat to. There is no time to start over.

I committed. The other morning I put the product primarily on the top, and back...but less of it. My goal was to use enough so I could rake my fingers through while it was wet, but not saturate all of it. Then, I got the hair dryer out.

This really is the frightening part. I KNOW what happens when I don't put any product in my hair and just let it dry...for instance a night time shower when I'm just going to bed. Why use product? I wake up looking like I've got a full head of cotton candy.

With the giant diffuser holding the curls toward my head, I worked my hair dry in the same pattern I do every single day. Once it's almost dry, I release the diffuser and turn the air on low to finish.

The whole point of this is it worked! My color was brighter and my hair softer. What's next? A little less? It got me to thinking, less can be more.

As an athlete it is hard to ever do less. Not making gains? Maybe you're over-training, or doing too much cardio? Would less work better? Just a consideration. I know it's a scary one. I think about supplements too.

People rely on a lot of stuff. Maybe it's helping. Maybe it's just making your pee really expensive. Just things to consider. Do you need all that? Maybe you do. What I found was, I had to try it to see. And, that's pretty much how people are. We have to try things for ourselves. But getting to that point is not easy.

I'm not sure where this gets us. It reminds me that it's ok to rest, that gains are made during recovery. It reminds me that eating my whole food is the foundation for my nutrition, and some supplements "supplement" that. And it reminds me that while I thought using more was better, I can actually use less hair product and my curls are going to be better off.

Friday, November 8, 2013

On Cross-Contamination

by Kris Pitcher

Boarding the plane I waited to pass a woman in first class who was frantically swabbing down her entire seat with handi-wipes. She had her tray table out and hit every surface on that thing. People around her scoffed, and she was crazy.

Having settled into my seat the row across from me housed a man and his toddler. His wife, infant and mother-in-law sat in the row behind him. He did a great job through the flight of managing a restless boy.

As the flight attendant came to gather trash, she asked him if she could take the half eaten apple he had placed on the empty seat next to him. He told her no, they weren't done with it, and he handed it back to his wife who put it in a plastic bag.

Gross, I thought, it had been sitting right on the seat. Then he began to sniff the toddlers pants. I knew what was coming next. Thinking back to the woman in first class I wondered if I had any handi-wipes.

Sure enough he changes the toddler right on the seat, didn't put anything down. Next, he puts the used pull-up right on the seat where the apple had moments before been. Nice.

And this is why we have to concern ourselves with cross-contamination and hand washing. This is why the lady in first class may not have been so crazy after all. This is why as competitors we need to be careful of our food sources, storage, and cleanliness of preparation etc.

I closed my eyes and was thankful I had not eaten off my own tray table, or really touched much of anything around me. Wash your hands, don't touch your face, keep your apple away from your poop.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Compliance, Success or Disaster

by Kris Pitcher

I sat for hours in a conference and at one point I plunged my hands into my giant purse for my tiny book where I write down my big ideas. I can't help but relate what's happening in life to health and fitness. It just all fits.

Listening to a presentation on disaster response, it's the business I'm in, I heard the term malicious compliance. Malicious compliance. This is what stands in the way of successful competitors and those who just simply make it to the stage.

Malicious compliance means you do something, but without belief in it. You do it but with resentment, you don't really want to do it. You ultimately comply, but because you were told to. It's with an ill intent.

A competitor who has this attitude may in fact make it to the stage, they do what their coach says (mostly), but only out of spite for the process. It's a glass half empty kind of outlook. Malicious compliance.

In a disaster people need to come together to get things done. There is often one incident commander who gives instructions. Another person may have experience and information and comply, but maliciously, because they must in that situation. Not because they believe in what the mission is.

Do you believe in what your mission is? Do you comply out of malice toward your coach? Or do you believe in the guiding principles of their leadership, their knowledge, their ability to guide you?

Part of it is who you want it for. I see competitors coming from a perspective of malice all the time because they are not doing it for themselves. They "can't" have, is their attitude when really they've chosen something else.

Where is your perspective coming from in your process? Think how much more productive and positive the process could be if you chose this path for yourself and trusted the person guiding you. Amazing. Right? Compliance out of a place of malice must feel awful. There is no empowerment in that place.

As I tried to bring myself back to focus on the speaker, I put my tiny book back in my giant purse. And I let my big idea go for a time. Now that I've shared it with you I hope you take a moment to meditate on where you approach your process from. It could be a great success, or a complete disaster.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Naked Stretching

by Kris Pitcher

There are two kinds of naked stretching, in my experience. There is unintentional naked stretching, and there is intentional naked stretching. My past experience is primarily with unintentional, at least I think it has been, unintentional.

Let me explain. I spent a lot of years managing fitness centers, running fitness programs, personal training and teaching group exercise. During that time I witnessed lots of what I hope was unintentional naked stretching.

A body part nudges out here, or drops out happens. I taught a lot of older adult water classes, and you'd be surprised how many ladies come out of the locker room with the top of their suit down.

In that same environment, I also witnessed intentional naked stretching, that which you cannot un-see. Why someone does this in a public locker room is a bit beyond me. Even the cruisy type, really? Stretching? Anyway.

You get the idea about unintentional naked stretching. Then there is intentional naked stretching. Intentional means to do it on purpose. Now, you would think this might be done at home, in the privacy and comfort of one's personal space.

You also might think this would be done alone. Or at best with a very intimate partner. The truth is, I have been stretching. Intentionally. And naked.

It's true. But I've not been doing this at home, in the privacy of my personal space. I do it with my massage therapist. Now, in my defense, I'm fully draped with sheets as I'm being pretzeled about. And to the best of my knowledge, there is no exposure of my junk.

Although I can't make any promises. What I can promise is my hips and hamstrings are becoming more flexible as he works me into all kinds of bendy positions. With each, the sheets conceal my's all on the professional up and up. It's fully intentional.

Last year, we were in Atlanta for Nationals and while my husband was sweating out ungodly amounts of water I walked on the treadmill and watched this trainer stretch his client. I thought, "Oh hell no!" He was practically doing it to her. He made it worse by accompanying it with some, "Oh yeah baby", and a few "right there...mmm a little deeper"! I laughed and told Jacques he better not stretch his clients like that.

So I guess stretching, partner stretching, and especially naked (intentional) stretching should all be done with professionalism in order and no, "Oh yeah baby!"'s. But on the serious note, as I work on the things I need help with, flexibility, I get excited by the progress being made...and not just, because I'm naked. *smile