Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to Manage Emotional Eating

by Kris Pitcher

I'm not at all phased by the pizza, cupcakes, or the lone Costco muffin left in the break room at work. There are also Oreo cookies and other snack items for the taking, available ALL THE TIME.

In my twenty-fifth year of successful personal weight management, I see food differently. My lens is focused on my goals and my values. Most importantly, my vision is conscientious. We get in trouble when we put our blinders on.

What I mean is, food should be a deliberate choice rather than an emotion which overcomes us, leading us into the depths of a binge. The American culture is heavily infused with emotional eating. We celebrate our very first birthday as onlookers cheer as we smash our cake covering ourselves with it. The Cake Smash.

Left to my emotions I would be elbow deep in a bag of chips. So, how can I simply walk past the beautifully iced cupcakes in the break room? Easy. I'm connected to my goals. I'm aware of my choices. Success begins with emotional management.

While some might argue I'm a cold-hearted fill-in-the-blank, I am an emotional person. I'm also good at managing my stress, and controlling what I can control. Did you know you are in control of how you respond to things?

You are! This just may be the secret sauce to managing your emotions. Social media is full of posts spewing on and on about how upset people are over this or that. Reel it in people. What is really affecting you in your life? And what do you have control over?

Allowing external events, people, things...you name it, to cause a reaction leading you to eat your emotions is self sabotage at its best. Being in control of your reactions takes recognition of a situation, knowing what your options are, and choosing one.

If emotional eating is eating you up, it's time to stop and take a breath. It's time to think about situations and choose your reaction. This is how you manage your emotions, and your emotional eating. Be present. This means being aware of what is going on around you.

Awareness is key to thinking through solutions, and making a choice. Everything we do is a choice. Each choice we make has consequences. Our food choices are no different. Whether we over eat, don't eat, eat the wrong things...all choices with consequences. But don't blame everything "out there".

Begin to assess your surroundings, your situation, and the events you find yourself in. Stop and think about your choices. Which choice aligns with your goals? Be present and make a conscious choice. Take your blinders off and deal with, and manage, your emotions.

Take a deep breath and clear your vision. The choice is yours!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Compliance and Physique Competition

by Kris Pitcher

noun | com-pli-ance | the act or process of complying to a desire, demand, proposal, or regimen

I've often heard over the years, "I wish I had your self control." It's not really self control that I have, it's compliance. I'd like to have all the foods the rest of the world eats, but the truth is...I'm working toward a different physique.

With that, I have a coach who lays out a plan for me. I follow my plan. I am compliant. It's very simple. Truth be told, nothing in this sport is really all that simple, and neither is compliance.

You see, I must be compliant because my genetics are just average. I need every bit of every minute I spend both in prep and off season to make the changes necessary. All of it. I don't have the luxury of being able to kind of follow my plan, or to cheat now and then. My genetics simply don't allow it.

Now, for all you cheaters, and those of you who take your plan as a "guideline"...you can get by because of your genetics. Your coach usually knows when you aren't exactly on plan, but you're making it really hard for them. 

You might even do well competing as a non-compliant client. I'm wondering though, how well would you do if you did comply? Where could you take yourself in this sport if you just buckled down and did the work? All of the work. 

Compliance to your plan is the only way your coach knows if your plan is working. When you aren't in compliance, you aren't doing your plan. And if you aren't doing your plan...we might as well just throw darts at a board to make decisions about you.

It's a misconception that you can be non-compliant and still make good progress. Sorry, but if you aren't doing your plan, your coach can't make a judgement about what to adjust. The first adjustment is, do your plan. Follow it to a "T". Then we can see if it works.

I would never advocate you comply with a ridiculous plan, or one that included foods you hate. A good coach can alter and provide you some choices so you can live with your plan. If you hate broccoli, by all means...there are A LOT of other vegetables to choose from. 

My strength in compliance comes from a place of self choice. I choose this lifestyle. I choose to eat the way I do. I choose to exercise. I choose this. No one is telling me to do it. Non-compliance usually comes from a place of either defiance, misinformation or mistrust.

My approach is to educate clients on why we are doing certain things at certain times and in certain combinations. Knowledge leads to compliance in my experience. My advice? Ask questions. If you are working with someone you trust, listen to them. Lean. Learn why you are doing things a certain way.

It's a challenge to have so much information at the tips of our fingers. Sifting through that information is a burden, it's conflicting and confusing. Let your coach be the guide. When you work with someone who has a background in nutritional science...they should be a good resource. If you are non-compliant because you don't like their methods, work with someone else.

If you are non-compliant because you feel like you "deserve" certain things, or are overcome with feelings of defiance when someone tells you what to do, dig deep and deal with those emotions. Get clear on your goals and values.

There is no will power, no self control. There is compliance and trust. And if you fall into the non-compliant category, well this sport may not be for you. Think about your daily routine, your habits and your attitude. Are you compliant?  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Constipation and Competition, Why You Can't Poop

by Kris Pitcher

I'm a producer, let's just start there. This blog is going to get personal. So, if you're not up for talking about your bowels...now is the time to bow out.

Bowel issues are very common not only among competitors, but general population as well. What's "normal"? Normal frequency varies from three times a day, to 2 times per week. If you are having less than 3 bowel movements a week, you're constipated.

There are as many causes to constipation as there are remedies. A few common ones include pregnancy, age, dehydration, low fiber diet, sedentary lifestyle, medications, over use of laxatives, stress, diabetes, thyroid disorders, stress...the list is long.

For women, the most common cause is hormones. Thank you menstruation. After ovulation, our progesterone levels increase and peak. The levels slowly decrease until it drops enough to trigger menstruation - the actual bleeding.

Not long ago, my husband and I had a conversation about this. He was flabbergasted (my word) that women know VERY little about something so consuming. He said, "If I was bleeding every month I'm pretty sure I would know everything there was to know about it." And he would. He knows more about it than most of us.

Progesterone delays the transit time of food, and we get stopped up. By the onset of menstruation, we are gassy, bloated, and you guessed it...constipated. Recall that this hormone is peaking about a week before we see blood.

This is usually when the texts come in from competitive clients, "I can't poop." Or, "I haven't pooped for 3 days." First response? Where are you in your cycle. Period.

There are some common ways to alleviate constipation. Using laxatives is the least desirable. Remember over use of laxatives can cause constipation, so you're in a circle on this one. Let's go over some better choices to remedy your issue.

Most of us are fairly active, but increasing activity is great. Ensuring we are getting a fiber rich diet is also important. We can increase our intake of magnesium citrate. Increasing water is also key. Ginger tea, or really any hot tea, helps to warm and relax the lower intestines. We can also increase our intake of vitamin C.

It's also thought that propping your feet up while sitting on the john will adjust the angle of your bowels and help get thing moving. There are actual devices for this (no, I don't have one).

On a regular basis (see what I did there?) we can take a pro-biotic to ensure good gut health. Usually, one or more of these remedies in combination will get you moving. And if your stop up is due to hormonal fluctuations, those will change, and you will go.

And when all else fails, there's always the last ditch effort...the enema. But, we can usually get things moving before we need to go that route. Well, you know what I mean. Now you know more about your bowels, what's normal, and how to get things moving when you're constipated. It happens, pretty much to everyone.