Friday, December 31, 2010

Breaking Barriers and Jumping Hurdles

by Kris Pitcher

The clock read 5:00 AM, but it was a holiday for me and the negotiations began. And this is what the chatter in my head sounded like: I'll just sleep until 6:00. I need to get up and walk on the treadmill. I could do it later. I'm not going to want to do it later. I'm not really sleeping in. What if I took a day off from cardio. It's Thursday, Thursday's not an off day. I should just do it now. I'll feel better if I do it. It's only half an hour. It will be over before I know it.

If you're a parent, you've been deep in negotiation. If you manage people, you're a negotiator, if you have ever landed a job, gotten a raise, sold anything, bought a name it - you can negotiate. And negotiating your way around barriers and over hurdles is what will carry your good intentions past February as you embark on your New Year's good habits.

I did feel better after I did my cardio. And, bonus - I got to shovel the couple of inches of snow that had fallen over night off the driveway! It felt good to be outside in the cold air, the sky was clear and the horses across the way were bellowing tufts to air from their nostrils that looked like smoke.

What exactly is a barrier? A barrier is a perceived roadblock keeping you from your exercise. I don't have time. It costs too much. I need someone to go with me. I don't know what I'm doing. I'm too tired. I have injuries. I have disease. I can do it later. etc. etc. etc.

Negotiating your way through those barriers is your key to overcoming them. And thinking about it ahead of time is the key. It's like teenagers - you want them to think about their choices before they are in a situation which is about to forever change their life.

Time is the number one barrier. We all have the same 24 hours in the day. With good time management we can fit our exercise in our day. Finding a gym on the way to or from work, or close to home makes it convenient. Figuring out when it fits well in your day is important too. Can you do this on your lunch hour? Do you sweat buckets and need to do it after work? Does this work best for you before work when you have the most control over your schedule? Find time and make time for your priorities.

We can talk through any barrier you can throw out there. A great exercise is to write down all the excuses you can come up with, and use your negotiation skills to counter those with solutions. You will see how easy it is to break barriers and jump over those hurdles.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mind Your Manners, Gym Etiquette

by Kris Pitcher

We don't want to hear it!
Now would be a good time to remind ourselves of some simple rules of gym etiquette. There is already an influx of new faces, vaguely familiar faces, and faces I hope just disappear. But we do welcome all newcomers and returning exercisers this time of year, and yes we are happy to share!

Actually, I do like this time of year. There is a renewed energy at the gym and every one's buzzing with something...I'm not quite sure what it is, but something. I think it's optimism.Others are already let's do our best and remember our manners with a few simple steps:
  • No perfume - in fact please stop wearing it all together, but especially at the gym. Your perfume will throw me into a migraine before you can say, "How's tootin?"
  • Dress appropriately - please don't be that guy in the too short shorts, or the gal spilling way too much boobage out the neck of your top. Let's leave a little to the imagination. And splurge on something that fits you this year, not in 1978. And don't wear those shoes you mowed the lawn in last year either. You need to suit up.
  • Please don't talk on the phone - we know you are important and you are juggling work and family. But really you can take one hour for you. It will all be there when you're done.
  • Follow the rules - if there is a 30 minute limit on the cardio machines, that means you too. If there's a ticket system to get into classes, use it - don't just show up and camp out on a spin bike.
  • Don't text during yoga - this seems like a no brainer. Seriously, multitasking needs a break too.
  • Use your inside voice - if you're center-of-attention guy, or drama-queen please, please just use your inside voice. Not everyone in the gym wants to know about your weekend. Really.
  • Don't monopolize equipment - you can't seriously be using all 4 of those machines. We will be working in.
  • Allow others to work in - that means to "take turns" using a machine or equipment you are also using. If I come up and you're sitting on the ab machine and I say, "Can I work in?" And you say, "Sure, I just have 2 more sets." Essentially you have said - No. That's not nice, especially if you're just going to sit there.  
  • Use a towel, or wipe things off when you're done - No thank you for the MRSA infection. The gym provides spray bottles and paper towels for a reason.
  • Put the plates away - if you get the toys out, put them away. That goes for dumbbells, bands, mats, balls, and anything else. 
  • Don't make crazy sounds - if I have to look around to make sure I'm not being "punked", or some sleazy movie isn't being made you're making crazy sounds. Don't do that - it's creepy.
When in Rome, do as the regular gym-goers do. This is the way we like it. We have a culture that works because of some simple rules of etiquette which are now common sense to you. Look around the gym for additional rules. No swearing is a given, wear your shoes, don't eat Twinkies on the treadmill. See, simple.

And while other regulars may not agree, I hope you make it past February. Just mind your manners!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One For The Road

by Kris Pitcher

Hey, sorry to come by at this time but I need you to come for a ride with me. Don't worry about it, yes it's my car. Just grab your bag you can put your lipstick on in the car. See that old tape down there by your feet? Can you grab that for me? I found this the other day and when I heard it I thought of you. What? Why are you looking at me like that?

The tape begins to play but it's not the music you thought it would be. What you hear is your own voice. Your voice is telling you what you should weigh. See you're getting these ideas about what you might accomplish in the New Year. Ideas about what you'll do in 2011! You're setting goals, weight loss goals. And you know what you're doing, you've got your tape! Your tape tells you - it's been telling you - what you should weigh.

The thing is, when we listen to the tape together, driving down the road...the notion is so old it's not even a cassette. The tape you're playing is an 8-track. So, the top is down and I've ejected your 8-track tape. Oh, I'm gonna do it - here it goes! I just threw your tape OUT THE WINDOW! You are done with it. And I don't want you to give it a second thought.

There's no should, no magic number, no special size or place where you will all of a sudden be happy. It doesn't exist, and the tape you've been playing is keeping you from your own reality. The tape has been telling you, "You're no good now, you've got to be 120 and a size 4 before you'll be happy." Well, let me tell you something...that is ridiculous! And that's why I threw your tape out. You're welcome.

As you're thinking about where you'd like to be, take a realistic look at where you are. And I mean get on the scale. Set your success in 5 pound increments (not 55 lb). Next, map out how you will accomplish your goal. "I will complete 45 minutes of cardio 6 times each week and decrease my calories by 200 per day." Done. You've just lost a pound this week. In 5 weeks, you'll set another goal. Reset your tape and find your success today. Let your new voice be heard!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Ultimate Stay Motivated Secret!

by Kris Pitcher

I've been holding this one back. I don't know why, maybe I didn't think you were ready. But I have the ultimate stay motivated secret to keep you on track for the whole year. Shoot, for the whole rest of your LIFE! It isn't snake oil, or poppycock, it's not a scam or a shim sham!

When I recently gave myself this gift, on Christmas day no doubt, I thought I had to share it with you. It wouldn't be fair for me to keep this to myself when all of you are ready to make changes, now would it? Why, with the New Year around the corner I know even though I have advised against it, you have your resolutions here we go. Are you ready?

The Ultimate Stay Motivated Secret IS - PROGRESS TOWARD YOUR GOALS! Are you seeing fireworks? Can you hear the trumpets? Did you see those white doves fly? I am grinning ear to ear because this WORKS! And I cannot wait for you to experience it. Oh, I'm sorry - did you think it was going to be a pill?

On Christmas day Jacques measured my body composition and low and behold...I was down 1%! My week of hard work, changes to my diet,  staying focused on my goals despite the cookies, fudge and fruit cake calling worked. IT WORKED! My early mornings on the treadmill even though I was on 'staycation' and wanted to cozy under the covers made the difference. Now that's motivation. Am I right?

This is simple positive reinforcement. The progress you will make toward your goals by working your plan will motivate you to continue to do the work. And it's hard work, I'm not going to lie. This is the secret! And if you do the work, I mean really do will experience it too.

Sometimes I wonder, what does set me apart? How do I stay connected and focused? Well, here's the secret to staying motivated. It's the positive feelings I get from making progress toward my goals. Now you have the secret too. What will you do with it?

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Latest Craze

by Kris Pitcher

This is the time of year when I get really concerned about some of you. Rightfully so. With every turn I hear, "In January I'm...", or "Come January first that's it!" These proclamations are worrisome not because I think you won't do it...but because I'm worried you will.

January first marks the race gate and each of you are ready to run through the red "start" ribbon. "Gun ho!" doesn't begin to describe the enthusiasm building with each of your, "Come January..." calls. Excitement overcomes you and I feel it's my duty to caution you. I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't. It's just that you take things too far.

You know the guy with the basketball jersey, the basketball shorts, the basketball shoes - the guy who is so into the culture but doesn't actually play basketball...I'm worried you'll be that guy. Especially with this new craze.

You've got your iPod loaded, and you've mapped out your route You've been reading up on the best methods, and form. You've considered a heart rate monitor, and maybe you even got one for a gift. You are so excited about feeling the earth under your feet, to be one with nature, to run as That's right, you're all geared up, or down rather, to catch the wave of the latest craze - barefoot running.

You see, I'm just worried that you'll take this too far, like you did with that last thing you tried. You got all the gear, joined the wasn't good. So when you see the benefits of barefoot running, I'm afraid you'll extend that just a bit too far and well, just run totally bare!

We just can't have that, a little bare goes a long way, especially when you're running! It's time to temper your enthusiasm, curb your energy, and take your New Year's resolutions one step at a time. Please don't over do it. And if you are even considering barefoot running, just a little bit, keep it to your feet people!

Barefoot running is a well followed sport. I have to share a man was recently arrested running totally bare. When questioned, he said since it was good for your feet he figured it was good for your whole body. I believe he was also intoxicated. I am not making that up!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bow Wowser What Time Is It?

by Kris Pitcher

We'll see if this guy likes 'em!
What time is it? I'll tell you what time it is, it's time to stop baking stuff for yourself and the "neighbors". But if you just can't shake the holiday baking spirit here's one more recipe to get you through. It's like a "bake on the wagon" recipe. And while you could eat this one, it's for Fido. Actually, for Henri Beau Solo (because he's so low), and Taylor. We'll see if they like their "cookies". Happy Baking!

Bow Wowser Dog Treats:
  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 3/4 C cornmeal
  • 1 T sugar
  • 3 T bouillon (chicken/vegetable or beef)
  • 1 T paprika (dogs love paprika)
  • 1 T brewers yeast
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • 1 C boiling water
  • 1/3 C butter
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 egg
Preheat oven to 350, line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a food processor or blender grind oats into meal. In a large bowl cream together water, butter, milk, and egg. Add all the dry ingredients and kneed until the mixture forms a stiff dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thick. Cut out using your favorite shaped cookie cutters (I used lips - a Valentine's holdover, plus I thought it was funny) or cut into squares. lace on baking sheets and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Store in a tightly sealed container for 2 weeks, or freeze for longer storage.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

On the 1st Day of Christmas

by Kris Pitcher

I can't wait until the 12th day, so on the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me, twelve ways to motivate your way to the New Year! Let's get things started off on the right foot with 12 new ways to motivate ourselves to renew our enthusiasm!

  1. Make Your Mark - Mark a big green X on your calendar every time you make it to the gym or park. Seeing your motivation in green and white helps keep you going. This keeps your goal right in front of you!
  2. Join up - Joining a club or team provides a support system and someone to share the experience with. Often just knowing someone will be asking you how it's going can be the difference between exercise success and failure.
  3. Peer Pressure - You can't leave your neighbor out on the corner checking her watch. When you make a date with someone you've got the accountability you need to lace up and get moving.
  4. Challenge Yourself - Sign up for a 5-K fun run in the spring. Having a goal to train for gives you the motivation to work toward it with every session.
  5. Dance Dance Dance - Music is a great motivator. Load up your i pod and get moving. Music can motivate you to work harder and longer than you otherwise would.
  6. No Counting - If you're watching the calorie burn with each passing minute, your cardio becomes a chore. Burning off calories isn't your only goal or benefit. Focus on the stress reduction, the increase in cardiovascular capacity and the new found self esteem.
  7. Find Fun - Find activities that you love and have fun. The more enjoyable your exercise is the more likely you are to stick with it.
  8. Do It Together - Enlist your family to exercise with you. Your spouse, your kids, your friend, or take the's more fun when you do it together.
  9. Dress To Impress - You need the right shoes and clothes to fit your workout. Breathable, wicking fabrics in stylish cuts will have you feeling great in the body you have now.
  10. Show Me The Money - Put a dollar in a jar every time you go to the gym. At the end of two months treat yourself to a massage. You'll get there more often.
  11. Mood Swing - A bad mood can ruin your motivation. A great workout can also swing your mood into line. Put things into perspective, take a deep breath and put your workout first. Your mood will thank you.
  12. Only You - Motivation success comes down to you. You can make successful habits become your lifestyle. It's all about your values, and your choices. You can do it! 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas

by Kris Pitcher (but not)

Politically Correct Santa

'Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's a wreck...
How to live in a world that's politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to "Elves",
"Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.

And labor conditions at the north pole
Were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.
Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.

And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!

The runners had been removed from his sleigh;
The ruts were termed dangerous by the E.P.A.
And people had started to call for the cops
When they heard sled noises on their roof-tops.

Second-hand smoke from his pipe had his workers quite frightened.
His fur trimmed red suit was called "Unenlightened."
And to show you the strangeness of life's ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose

And had gone on Geraldo, in front of the nation,
Demanding millions in over-due compensation.
So, half of the reindeer were gone; and his wife,
Who suddenly said she'd enough of this life,

Joined a self-help group, packed, and left in a whiz,
Demanding from now on her title was Ms.
And as for the gifts, why, he'd ne'er had a notion
That making a choice could cause so much commotion.

Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.
Nothing that might be construed to pollute.
Nothing to aim. Nothing to shoot.

Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls. Or just for the boys.
Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that's warlike or non-pacific.

No candy or sweets...they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.
And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,
Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.

For they raised the hackles of those psychological
Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.
No baseball, no football...someone could get hurt;
Besides, playing sports exposed kids to dirt.

Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be passe;
And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.
So Santa just stood there, disheveled, perplexed;
He just could not figure out what to do next.

He tried to be merry, tried to be gay,
But you've got to be careful with that word today.
His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.

Something special was needed, a gift that he might
Give to all without angering the left or the right.
A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion;

Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere...even you.
So here is that gift, it's price beyond worth...
"May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on earth."

Notice:  This poem is copyright 1992 by Harvey Ehrlich.  It is free to
distribute, without changes, as long as this notice remains intact.
All follow-ups, requests, comments, questions, distribution rights, etc
should be made to .  Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Red Curry with Vegetables

by Kris Pitcher

What a great way to ring in the New Year! A beautifully rich soup in color and in flavor. This soup will warm your senses on a wintery day. It's base is a red Thai curry paste which you can find in jars or cans in your Asian market.

The recipe calls for tofu, but you could add chicken, or shrimp, to bump up the protein profile of this meal. At 348 calories per serving/41 gm carbs/16 gm fat/13 gm protein you've got a meal in a bowl. Are you ready to try something new?

Enjoy the spicy smooth flavors!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The "S" Word

by Kris Pitcher

The "S" word is a topic suggested by the super awesome manager at Giorgio's Fitness, Melanie. She talks to people about their fitness goals and hears the "S" word over and over from women. It's equally disturbing and even offensive to hear it from men, so don't go calling any of us the "S" word. Thanks for the idea Mel!

I think when people say it, they don't even really know what they want. It's a word that has no meaning, it's a default word. Here's what the urban dictionary says about the "S" word: 
This is not my idea of a beautiful physique.
skinny: Something a lot of girls want to be, also known as perfection. No matter how thin some girls get, they will never be happy with their weight. The quest for "skinny" causes many problems like anorexia or bulimia. Of course, when thinness comes naturally, the girls who possess it get cocky and let their egos grow bigger than necessary.

To be more exact, to be skinny is to lack fat, bulk or to weigh or appear to weigh less than average. This does not make a person worth less or more!! Word up, kiddies!
"Oh my GOD! I am SO skinny!! Yes, you are skinny too, just not as skinny as me! Oh, I love being skinny! That means I am healthier, prettier and more attractive than you! Go throw up in a toilet, now!"

When a woman tells one of us she wants to be, "skinny" it's almost like being punched in the throat. It knocks the wind out of your sail, you feel disappointed, you thought you knew her better... It's a let down. What she's really saying is she doesn't want to be fat. That's very different though from being the "S" word. 

Is she saying, "I don't want to have any lean body mass." Or, "I don't want to have any tone to my muscles." Does she mean, "I want to permanently decrease my metabolism." Or, "I think I'll stop eating." 

I might just be an optimist, but I don't think so, I think the "S" word is a default. I think she's saying I'm tired of being fat. I'm tired of feeling tired, I want to increase my metabolism, have more energy and feel good. I want to look toned, and lean. That's what I think she means. But I could be all wrong, in which case I just want to slap her.  

Giorgio's Fitness is by the way not only one of the best gyms in Spokane, it is also home to Team Pitcher! 

Monday, December 20, 2010

No Worries

by Kris Pitcher

I've always tried to remind myself that 95% of what I worry about won't happen. Recently I was waiting for my husband at the gym where I came across a magazine I hadn't seen before. It's glossy cover drew me in, and it's January 2011 date had me lunging for it! I thought I'd struck gold!

Inside those glossy pages was a hidden gem, "How to Break Your Worry Habit" by Martin Rossman, M.D.

I know we spend a lot of time worrying. My grandmother was a worrier, my mom has worry-wort tendencies, and I'm worried I might have it too. Worries keep us up at night, rob us of energy, and keep us from pursuing our lives in rich and fulfilling ways. So sit back, don't worry, we're going to get a handle on this.

From the article: Research shows that 84% of worries don't have the expected negative outcome - and even when they do come true, 79% of people say they handled it better than expected. Here are some tips for getting your frantic monkey mind under control.
  1. Make A List Divide your worries into two types: those you can do something about, and those you can't. The ones you can't act on, track for two to three weeks and observe how many of them come true (and how many don't).
  2. Create A Worry Jar Jot down each nagging thought onto slips of paper and drop them into a designated jar before you go to sleep. This helps you let go of them for a while so you can rest.
  3. Reject Them Every time a worry arises, mark it mentally with a big red X. This ritual satisfies the mind's desire to do something when helpless worries take hold.
  4. Visualize A Better Ending How would you imagine your desired outcome if it were up to you? Let it be the symbol for the outcome you would create if you were writing the script. Energize that image by making it look and feel as real to you as possible.
Check out more solutions to your worries at You've got one life to live, this one right here right now. Put those worries aside and visualize the outcome you want!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Green Tea & Oatmeal Cookies

by Kris Pitcher

Oh boy! When I saw this recipe I couldn't wait to try it. It blends my fascination with Japanese arts & culture (I don't know where I get this but hope to explore it in my lifetime) and cookies! Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and let's get cooking.

Green Tea & Oatmeal Cookies:

  • 1/2 T Maeda-en green tea powder - culinary quality    matcha green tea powder mix 
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 stick (1/2 C) butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 C old fashioned oats
Beat together butter and sugar until creamy. Add egg and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda and green tea powder. Combine wet and dry ingredients, mixing together. Stir in oats. Place rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

You can order matcha green tea powder on line (check the link above), or visit your local Asian market if you're lucky enough to have one!

Tea can be divided into three broad categories: unfermented, semi-fermented and fermented drinks. White, green, blue-green, black roasted and smoked teas come from the same plant; it is the processing of the leaves that makes the difference. Japanese green tea is the unfermented type. To stop the fermentation of tea leaves, we use "steaming". Although there are many different types of Japanese green tea, the kind most often made and used by people in Japan is the steamed type of "sencha" and "fukamushicha". Aromatic teas such as bancha and hojicha are very popular as well. (

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Beauty Is An Attitude

by Kris Pitcher

I am beautiful!
On 30 Rock, which is past my bedtime but I was watching it anyway, Jenna was telling Liz Lemon she was getting all this attention from men because she was with someone. Being with someone was making Liz happy and instead of putting off her usual negative energy (that was nice of Jenna to point out!) she was actually beaming will positive vibes, and every one was attracted to her.

The truth is, beauty is an attitude. It isn't about being a certain size, or looking a certain way. Beauty isn't about what people see on the outside. It's about what we project from the inside. What we project shapes what they see.

Taking care of ourselves gives us that attitude, and makes us feel good inside. This goes for the big stuff like annual health exams, to the everyday personal care things that help us put our best forward. Our nutrition and exercise are key components of that along with getting adequate sleep and hydration.

When we feel good we project the attitude of beauty, and that's what people see. If you're feeling like a frump down in the dumps, take a few minutes every day to focus on you. Take care of your needs; pack your lunch, take your vitamins, go for a walk, put lotion on your hands and massage those gnarly cuticles, put your blush on and a swipe of gloss on those lips (not you - guys), sip a cup of herbal tea...what ever you need. Make an effort to bring out your attitude of beauty, you might just like what you see!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wait For Ducks

by Kris Pitcher

Zipping down our country road, not exceeding the posted 25 MPH speed limit, I turned the corner toward the property where the horses are. I was making good time...I wasn't even going to be late for work! But it was light out, and I ran the risk of getting behind the school bus. No bus in sight, nothing in my way. Then as I made my way down the road I could see an unmistakable waddle. This is the same place in the road where I look for the peacocks, and where sadly this summer the big floppy bunny didn't make it.

No, I don't live in a fairy tale, there just happen to be some domestic animals in the rural area where we live. As I got closer I could see there were ducks crossing the road. White ones, speckled ones, a big black one...and these ducks were not in a hurry. Second gear, neutral...stop. One, two, three ducks cross the road. I sit and wait. There are at least four others on the side and I know they all want to be together. So I wait. They start across, hesitate, then go. "Come on girls!" I found myself cheering them.

This is a crazy season. There are too many parties. There are too many obligations, we feel over extended and off schedule. The mall is packed, and the grocery store is worse. People are stressed and families are struggling. We overindulge, and worry about the perfect gift. We are caught up in the stuff, the right decorations, lights and trimmings. We are frazzled and frantic. We are in a huge hurry everywhere we go.

In those moments of hurried chaos, take a deep breath and slow down. Ask yourself just what is necessary, what will people miss if you don't quite get everything done. Does everything have to be done from scratch? Can you find ways to slow down, do less and enjoy the season more? But most importantly this holiday season, take time to take care of yourself. Take time to slow down and smile and to stop and wait for ducks.      

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Don't Apologize!

by Kris Pitcher

Something strange happens when people see you doing something differently from them in a social situation. Even though you try to be inconspicuous, there's always someone who's drawn to you like a fly to butter...or however that goes. You don't make a big deal out of the fact that you're eating something different, you've brought your food, or you aren't drinking. Then comes the questions.

And maybe people are just interested. And I'll admit it, maybe I am conspicuous. I'd rather be social and bring what I want to eat, than not participate. Then I sort of explain what I'm doing in a super simple paraphrased way before their eyes gloss over. Usually conversation moves somewhere else for a while.

But their interest seems to always turn to an apology. "Oh, I'm sorry I'm eating this in front of you!" Well, let me tell you something, if I couldn't see people eating stuff, I wouldn't leave my house...ever. I'm good. "Oh, I shouldn't eat this in front of you!" followed by, "I shouldn't eat this at all!" or "Oh, I won't sit at her table with this big plate!" Really? My eating plan has nothing to do with judging what anyone else eats.

I get in these social situations and it's like I have this "food police" halo flashing in neon on my head. I'll leave that to someone else - that's just too much work for me! I'm an Aquarius, I'm low key, don't apologize to me...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Carte Blanche

by Kris Pitcher

A lot of people are exercising regularly and good for you! I see some of these people at the gym year after year yet they never change. A conversation with someone this past week at the gym has me thinking about an attitude I call "carte blanche".

This particular member had noted the changes Jacques and I have made over the past four years. He had some questions about the power lifting training techniques a group of guys were using with their benching. Jacques explained what they were working on and some of the differences in our training as bodybuilders. I added that a major change has been in our focused efforts in our diets not just during prep season, but all year long for the past few years.

It's usually at this point in a conversation when it turns "confessional". And it's not just with this guy, it's nearly everyone including many competitors we know. They feel like because they're working out they can eat whatever they want. The flaw with this thinking (there actually are many) is you don't require more calories just because you're exercising. AND you certainly require the right kinds of calories.

Most of us have stored energy to use, right? So when it comes to reading the "calorie burn" on the cardio machines (remind me to come back to that topic one day) this is not your savings bank of what you get to eat later in nachos and mojitos. Also, just because you did your workout doesn't mean your body is benefiting from the chips, soda, beer etc. while you watch the game. You don't need to carbo-load for your morning Zumba class. OK?

This guy admitted to never being able to get his eating down right. He has a secret stash of chocolate, "Just for Dad." Even saying it aloud made him wonder why he does that. Maybe he'll stop. The point is this carte blanche attitude has 95% of well intended gym-goers taking two steps forward, and one step back every week. Maybe even two steps back depending on the damage they do over the weekend. And they never change.

If this is working for you and you just want to maintain where you are, by all means take carte blanche with your food. But for most people I talk with, they want to make some changes in their composition. They want to gain more muscle tone, and lose fat. Simple. Stop sabotaging your efforts with your attitude about food. Making conscious choices helps you shift your attitude about food. Will this choice fuel your healthy body? It's up to you.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meet Karly - Team Pitcher Athlete

by Kris Pitcher

It's my distinct pleasure to introduce you to Karly Gomez. She is a competitive figure athlete and is currently training for the Emerald Cup, one of the largest NPC shows in the country. Karly is blogging her journey to the E-Cup, where all her hard work will come together on April 15, 2011. She is also a Team Pitcher sponsored athlete this year and it's our pleasure to work with her and her husband Manuel who is her training partner and number one supporter. I invite you to join me as we get to know Karly.

Kris: You've always been active but how did you get interested in figure competitions?
Karly: I was injured pretty seriously about 2 years back and as a result changed my life forever. After 9 months of physical therapy and endless challenges, I made up my mind to find something else I could channel my energy into. I have always had an interest in weight training thanks to my husband, but I had never taken it very seriously. On my 30th birthday, I decided I was going to start training with a goal to compete in my first figure competition. I am naturally competitive and like setting and reaching goals so this just seemed like the right thing for me to do.

Kris: How long have you been lifting and is it something you and Manuel do together?
Karly: I have been lifting seriously for just over a year now. Yes, this is something I do with my husband. We meet at the lunch hour during the week and we go and lift together. He is a great teacher, he pushes me and is very patient with me.

Kris: You do an amazing job of using nutrition to manage your lupus, what would you tell readers about the power of food as a tool for our health?
Karly: You are what you eat and don't eat. If you don't eat clean and you don't give your body the necessary tools (natural food, water, vitamins and minerals) to function the way it was meant to, you will end up tired and sick. Give your body what it needs and you will become a lean, mean, sick (good sick!) fighting machine! It's not expensive either, if you plan correctly and really educate yourself on how and what to eat. People would be amazed if they stopped going out to restaurants to eat, just how much money they could be saving and buying real food they prepare at home. Really, it comes down to what is important to you. For me personally, being healthy and strong for myself, my husband and my kids is what I value.

Kris: You eat well all year, as a competitor this gives you an advantage in utilizing your off season to make gains. What changes are you seeing this off season in your physique as a result?
Karly: Well, the nice thing about maintaining the same diet is it isn't so torturous during the training season up to a competition. This is my lifestyle. As far as gains, I am able to stay pretty lean yet put on quality muscle at the same time. With eating well and training with my husband I have seen some major improvements in my legs and back these past few months. Next in line are my shoulders.

Kris: Where do you work out, and what works for your busy life about this facility?
Karly: Well, I used to train at Anytime Fitness because I could work out any time of the day and my husband and I could alternate and not have to worry about who was watching the boys. Recently however, we made the switch over to the WSU Student Rec Center. This allows my husband and I to train together while our kids are busy at school. The benefits are endless. I have someone to push me and spot me in the gym and my husband has me to make sure we never miss a day in the gym. This facility is also excellent because we can bring our kids in during family hours on the weekends and be active with them as well.

Kris: What's your favorite body part to train, and what are you working to bring up for the upcoming season?
Karly: My favorite body part to train is my back followed by my legs. This season I am really trying to get more shape in my legs (a challenge with an injury) but I am making a ton of gains already. I am also working on bringing up my shoulders as well. Time will be my biggest factor in my gains. My first year was all of my "new muscle growth" and now I am working on maturing and shaping my muscles. I also tend to get leaner on my upper half vs. my lower half so I will be working on leaning out my lower half a little bit more to have a better overall match from top to bottom.

Kris: I know you're a strong woman of faith, how do you feel this keeps you connected with your goals when you are juggling work, family and being a competitive athlete?
Karly: I firmly believe I was given a choice to take one of two paths a few years back. When I lost my ability to be active and run and do other activities, I could have either given up hope that I could ever be happy and active with my family again, or I could push forward and grow in a different way.

Today, as I look back, I took a challenge that was presented to me by another challenge and made myself a stronger woman, wife and mother than I could have ever hoped for. Everything I do, is based around my family and being strong and showing my family that when you hold onto your faith and look at the bright side of even the most negative things in life, that you can be happy and you can be you again in a different and better way. Everything that God created is good, I just have to remember to see it that way and not focus on all the bad stuff around me. When you focus on the positive, good things will come your way.

Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Kris: You are a self-defined girly girl in a house hold of boys. I imagine Felix and Fabian being in awe over you as the most beautiful and strongest woman they've ever laid eyes on. Kids speak from a place of truth and honesty, what do your boys say about you?
Karly: So, I asked both of them separately this morning and here is what I got. Fabian: Age 3, "My momma has strong muscles. You can push cars into bushes, right momma?" 

Felix: Age 7, Felix told me that he likes that I exercise with him and teach him how to cook. He likes it when we do art projects together and when we go to the gym to swim and play in the basketball courts. He also likes my competitions because I get to wear pretty suits with lots of sparkles and big sparkly earrings and wear make-up and do my nails. I asked him why he likes those things in particular to my competitions and he said, "because it makes you happy momma." He also told me he knows that I love him no matter what.

Kris: You are driven and ambitious, you also have a beautiful structure. What helped you make your decision to take your competition to the next level this year by going to the USA's in July?
Karly: Thanks Kris! Well, once I make one goal and meet it, I just seem to keep going up for the next goal. I would love to get my IFBB Pro Card so this is naturally the way to go. I think it is also a great resume builder and since I am studying for my ACE Certification right now, it is a good way to show people you can be healthy and compete at the same time even if you struggle with illness or injuries. I am living proof of that.

Kris: How important has it been for you to work with a prep coach and what things have you found most valuable in that experience?
Karly: Well, it is so important, HUGE! I had never done this sort of thing before so even being on stage was new to me. I had done some modeling pictures before so I was fairly comfortable with posing, but keeping your muscles tight, smiling, walking in 5" heels and being on stage half naked is a whole different story! With posing practice this helped me learn the appropriate way to pose and walk while presenting on stage which is so crucial when it comes to judging time. All your hard work can go right down the toilet if you don't know how to present yourself correctly on stage.

I also felt it was important to have someone checking what my husband and I had done for diet and training to make sure I was truly going about this preparation in the healthiest and safest way possible. The last thing I wanted to do was make myself sicker in the end because of bad dieting choices up to the competition. Having someone who can look at you objectively and give you positive criticism is also important. You see yourself every day so it can be hard to see where you have improved and what you need to work on.

Another huge benefit was to have Jacques and you back-stage with me. You had prepared me for what would happen before hand and then re-integrated that while we were there. I was prepared and relaxed and knew what to expect thanks to you guys.

Kris: You've accomplished a lot competing so far, and I'm really proud of you, what advice would you give someone who's on the fence about competing?
Karly: Honestly, I would tell them it isn't easy, but in the end it is one of the most rewarding things you can ever do for yourself. You learn so much about yourself in the process. You learn your strengths and your weaknesses. If you want to compete, I say go for it. I highly recommend being organized and prepared. Enlisting in a trainer/competition coach who specializes in this area is so valuable and will make your first experience 100% better than if you go at it alone. Do your research too if you decide to have a trainer help you. There are a lot of different methods to preparing for a competition both in training and diet so it is important to find the best fit for you.

Kris: I love your philosophy that fitness is something everyone can do. What do you say to people who see what you do and say they could never do that?
Karly: If you tell yourself that you can't do something, you certainly will never do it. You are the only person that can truly tell yourself "no" and stand in your way. Tell yourself "maybe I could do that", starts to open up the idea of possibilities. Tell yourself "I can do that", opens up the doors to great things that you will achieve. It is all about attitude. Believe in yourself and you will be.

I also tell them that they don't have to compete to find something they love and that keeps them healthy and fit. What I do may not be the right fit for them and that is just fine by me. What my biggest hope is for people to remember that they are capable of great things and that to do something active can be so many things, whether it is water aerobics, golfing, running a marathon, doing a triathlon, or walking 3 miles a day. The key is to find something active that you love and that makes you feel good.

Kris: I'm excited to be featuring your journey on Team Pitcher as you get ready for the Emerald Cup, is there anything you'd like to share with readers about what they might expect as they take the journey with you?
Karly: First, let me thank you for giving me this opportunity to be part of Team Pitcher through this journey. It truly is an honor.

What can people expect? A little bit of everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly. They can expect to read funny stories and goofy things that happen to me along the way. They can expect to read about a person who is truly real, deep in faith, compassionate at the heart, and funny and loving in the soul. I hope to inspire people, remind them that nothing great comes easy, but in that great fight to accomplish a goal, something amazing happens. You learn and you grow and you become smarter and stronger than before.

Visit Karly's competition journey blog at CraigProductions

Also, find Karly's blogging at
Lives of the Fit & Perfectly Imperfect!

Thanks for a great interview Karly!
We'll look forward to your blog as you make your way to the stage this season!  

Monday, December 13, 2010

WANTED: The Nibbler

by Kris Pitcher

WANTED: The Nibbler has been spotted in your kitchen! As you are cooking, the nibbler is there ready for a taste! When you are dishing plates for the family, again the nibbler. And worst yet - the cleaning nibbler! One last bite the kids didn't finish up, really? A fish stick?

What's the big deal? A nibble here, a nibble there? Well, it is a BIG deal. The Nibbler is sabotaging your plan by mindlessly pushing calories through those lips of yours, and it is adding up.

Break the nibbler habit by chewing sugarless gum while you cook. This is a great tool and works for many situations, keep a pack in the kitchen "junk" drawer so it's there when you need it. And after dinner, brush your teeth before you clear the table if you're an offender. Take two minutes to brush and floss your teeth. You are much less likely to nibble once you've done that. And you've got that pack of gum in the drawer.

REWARD: Getting rid of the Nibbler puts you back in control of what you are eating. It stops you from fooling yourself about the extras. Those little nibbles here and there add up to hundreds of calories, just enough to keep you from making progress. So turn in the Nibbler and claim your reward!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Pitcher Tradition

by Kris Pitcher

Its 3x5 recipe card is typewritten. Lengthy instructions fill one side, while 3 part ingredient lists fill separate sections of the other. Yellowed with time I wonder how many times it has sat on the counter making countless batches.

A little bit complicated, I can remember being flustered the first time I made it. I wanted to get it right. Now, I can't quite recall how many years I've been making least 11 years. The recipe has been handed down to me by my husband's paternal grandmother, a woman I never knew. A woman who I only know through story, mostly of killing snakes at the cabin in the Tennessee hills when my father-in-law was a boy.

Its aromatics are worldly, infused with clove and the sweet smell rises from the oven in an unrecognizably slow way taking over your senses. It's a smell that makes me think of wandering a spice market in some far away place, and I wonder what it made her think of.

I almost didn't make these little fragrant timeless traditions. I told Jacques I didn't think I would this year, and he reasoned me into finding my yellowed 3x5 recipe card. There is a small group of family and friends who find themselves recipients of this Pitcher tradition. If you find yourself amongst them, you know we think you're special.

If you receive one in July, you most certainly are on the favorite list. The longer this cake "ages" the better it is. Once perfectly cooled, my beautiful little cakes will find themselves swaddled in rum soaked cheesecloth. And if you are lucky, you just may be the recipient of a Pitcher Tradition, the fruit cake. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Unresolved New Year

by Kris Pitcher

I may be fighting my inner pessimist here, or a touch of the bah humbug. You know I work hard to keep her in check. But the season is upon us when all you good intentioned, real nice people are about to do something really stupid...make New Year's Resolutions. Do you remember your resolution from last year? I didn't think so. January was a long time ago, I'll give you that.

Maybe this year we could just agree to be unresolved. Here is one version of a top 10 list:

  1. Spend more time with family and friends - well, maybe this would work if we can figure out number 5
  2. Fit in fitness - not a bad idea; reduce our risk of disease, and help achieve our weight loss goals, oh number 3...
  3. Tame the bulge - 66% of Americans are overweight, see number 2
  4. Quit smoking - this is a biggie
  5. Enjoy life more - find work/life balance, hmm I'm skeptical but willing to give a European attitude a try (will you tell my boss I'll be on holiday for 7 weeks)
  6. Quit drinking - get some professional help here
  7. Get out of debt - this led you to number 6
  8. Learn something new - lifelong learning is a good idea
  9. Help others - volunteerism would make us feel good, but we're kind of wrapped up in 1-8 here
  10. Get organized - I think I tried that one January
My issue with resolutions is they are typically MAJOR life changes which we resolve to without really much thought or any plan. Setting ourselves up for failure is not a good idea. Skip it all together? Nope, you're not getting off that easy!

Here's a better way to resolve. Reflect over the past year. What has gone well? What would you like to work on? Is there something you'd like to adopt, or that you're ready to let go of? Be specific about what you want, and get started now. There's no sense in waiting until January, or even until Monday. Make choices right now that will lead you toward what you want. 

What am I working on? This might sound silly, but I'm working on my flexibility. I've got my cardio down, and you know I love my lifting, but flexibility is the piece I neglect. I'm not good at it so I don't like to do it. So, I'm working on it. Hardly worth claiming a, "resolution!" and I don't think of it that way at all. Try an unresolved approach this year, take the pressure off yourself for the New Year. You just might make some lasting changes!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fleeced By a Carrot

by Kris Pitcher

They never had any cholesterol!
I know you're a savvy shopper, and you probably know your way around the grocery store pretty well. And when you go grocery shopping, you're not distracted, in a hurry, or heaven forbid...hungry, right? I sure hope not because you need all your faculties working for you - or you might just get fleeced!

A trip through the produce isle and you've got your eye on washed and cut carrots. Good for you, you're looking for grab and go! Now, one package says, "Cholesterol Free!" Great! That's the one for me! Wait a minute. Vegetables don't have cholesterol. You've just been fleeced by a carrot!

How about "Gluten Free Corn Chex"? Well guess what, gluten comes from wheat. Corn Chex are made from? Corn! Now, why do you think General Mills puts that on the label? They know that many people are eating gluten free diets, so they're letting you know. OK, but anyone requiring a gluten restriction would know it isn't in corn. My sense is they would like to market to all the rest of us who might get on the non-gluten bandwagon if we see their label. They want to sell you their Corn Chex.

Making sense of nutrition is tricky. Throw in some 'marketing to the masses', and every one's drinking POM juice. The same anti-oxidant ingredient is in grape juice...only POM did a much better marketing campaign. Stop and think the next time you're reading a product's claims. After all you don't want to be fleeced, by a carrot.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Eat Your Way Lean

by Kris Pitcher

Eating more to lose weight is a really difficult concept for people to grasp. It goes against everything they've been led to believe. Less is more right? In fact, if I don't eat anything at all - won't I eventually lose weight? Well, no and plenty of people actually kill themselves doing just that. But I still see a lot of people who eat one or maybe two meals a day hoping to make a dent in their goals.

This kind of behavior sets our bodies up to do just the opposite of what we want. It tells our metabolism to shut down. "Shut it down! We've got a famine here!" Then you dump that one meal in...whoa Nelly you over do it too because you've unleashed a beast. A chemical hurricane starts in your pancreas as your body shoots insulin into your bloodstream to corral the sugars. Your cells convert all that fuel into fat and put it away quick. After all, we're in a famine and who knows when our next meal might be.

Eat by the clock!
We want to create a nice constant fuel source by eating frequently throughout the day. Every two to three hours you want to be having a meal. Let's take average Jane who weights 130 pounds and is maintaining her weight with 1800 calories per day. She'd be smart to break that out into 6 meals of about 300 calories. Each would be a combination of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates.

You can see her meals are not big...they're mini-meals at 300 calories. This constant fuel source tells our body, "We've got no shortage here, you're going to get the nutrients you need!" It also maintains our blood sugar levels so we're not rising and crashing. Our bodies want things nice and easy, homeostasis please! No herky-jerky dumps of chemical whirlwind causing huge meals.

Best yet, optimizing our fuel in this way helps us keep our metabolism (the rate at which we burn calories) higher. It sends the message that our body can use fat for fuel, and that it can count on us to keep the fire burning!

Eating more, and/or more frequently might be the boost you need to get you over a plateau, or to get your metabolism going again. Think about having 24 hours in the day. You want to eat in the morning when you wake up. After sleeping for 7-8 hours, you need to fuel. And it's OK to eat later in the evening. It's all a matter of what you're eating. I didn't say eat bowls of cereal, ice cream, and cookies in front of the TV before bed. I'm saying it's OK if you're last meal is before bed, you're 300 calorie protein meal. Follow? 

Think about your eating patterns. How long do you go between meals? Are you having 3 meals a day? Can you increase that to 5, or 6? It takes some work to figure out what you're eating, and think about how you can split it up into smaller meals. But it is possible, and powerful, to eat your way lean.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stop at Thanks

by Kris Pitcher

There is a serious plague going around and I am concerned for your safety. There is no vaccine for this and it seems to be more prevalent than ever before. It's a serious social condition brought on by compliments, I hear it all the time, it's "Thanks but...".

Do you suffer from thanks but? Think back to the last compliment you were paid. What was your response? OMG! You HAVE IT! I'm going to talk you through this.

Lady at the airport, "I love your hair! That style is so great on you" Me, "Thank you so much." You see, I no longer have, thanks but. When I had it, I would have said, "Thanks, but you should have seen it in the '80s, WOW not pretty!"

Thanks but diminishes and negates the compliment. It says to the person complimenting you, "I don't want your compliment, I don't deserve it, it means nothing, don't ever do it again." Who wants to hear that?

"Honey you look great!" Your reply, "Thanks but I think this dress makes me look fat." Now everyone feels bad, date ruined! You must let go of thanks but. It is a serious social condition, and has eaten away at your soul. No more thanks but. No more!

What instead? Just... thank you. It's not easy to get in the habit of accepting compliments, but you deserve them. You're awesome! It might take some practice, but put that smile on and start, rather stop talking at thanks!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Strength Training 101, Some Basics

by Kris Pitcher

Variety is the spice of life, and that couldn't be more true for strength training! Strength training is the most complicated topic to tackle. It's typically one of the last components of fitness that we ladies add. It was true for me...I started as a cardio queen. You gotta start somewhere! All that equipment, those machines, it's confusing. Not to mention the sweaty male dominated weight room, right?

Well sister, the 90's called and said you haven't been in the gym for a while! Those are old ideas. So, let's give you some new ones. First, for all you timid folks check your group exercise schedule. This is a great option if the only weight you've ever lifted is your purse. With TRX (hello - anyone tried that?), sculpting, body-pump...whatever they're calling it there are some resistance classes on the schedule. Get in there and give it a try. You'll have an instructor there to guide you and a room full of people just like you ready to try something new and have a fun time.

But here's some tough love, no offense to my instructor friends out there...if you want to do due diligence to your muscles, you need to get into the weight room. It's really a matter of multi-tasking. The other day when I was brushing my teeth and sorting the laundry...I'm not sure if I did either as well as if I had just focused on my Sonicare for 2 minutes, and then sorted for a minute. Plus, I think I slobbered toothpaste on the dedicates. Strength training in a group ex class is like multi-tasking, it's getting done, but maybe it could be better if you just did one or the other.

There are infinite ways to structure a strength training program but here are some basic rules and things to know to get started. A repetition is completing an exercise one time. A set is a group of repetitions. A beginner might do one set of 10-12 repetitions per exercise. How do you know how much weight to lift? If you can't complete 10 repetitions, it's too heavy (we're beginners), and if you can do more than 12 with beautiful form, it's too light.

Look at you, knowin' the lingo & gettin' the hang of this! You want to work your muscles largest to smallest - oh, now this is getting more difficult. You can't work the same muscle 2 days in a row! I knew you'd love that one! One easy way to organize this is to do your upper body one day, and your lower body the next. Simple.

We can complicate this a WHOLE lot, and that's when you need professional help. And you should always seek a professional before you begin any program. Your gym should have someone available to show you the equipment and machines, and set you up on a program based on your needs. They should also have a Personal Trainer available if you'd like to work with someone.

The weight room is full of regular people, ladies, grandmas, moms, and the requisite guy who's been lifting weights for 30 years and does all kinds of crazy stuff (tip: don't do what he's doing). Go to Target and buy yourself some pink weight lifting gloves for about $15 so you won't callous up those smooth hands and do yourself a favor by getting into the weight room. I know you've been meaning to do it, and now you know the basics.      

Monday, December 6, 2010


by Kris Pitcher

Tis the season to want. We ask children to make lists to send to Santa, and their relatives. Lists are made for loved ones, and for ourselves. Our focus turns to wanting. The challenge here for me fundamentally is we're telling ourselves what we have isn't good enough. This thinking extends directly and in a literal way to our bodies, and ourselves.

Conceptually this is something which requires our attention in an ongoing way. It's difficult to stay connected to "wanting what you have" instead of "having what you want". We are products of our environment, and our environment constantly sends us messages telling us we should want other things. Things we don't have. That's their job, they are marketers...and we are consumers.

If we can start our fitness journey wanting what we have, I believe we will take care of ourselves - our bodies - in a way which will get us where we want to be. It's a matter of finding things that you can love and appreciate about yourself and turning your energy toward those things, rather than being negative or focusing on things you are working on.

Now, you might prefer to run down the freeway in your birthday suit than take on this exercise. But, if you have a door that locks, and a full length mirror...put your birthday suit on and take a look at yourself. Can you appreciate the sweep of your collar bone? Can you see your calves if you stand on your toes? What do you think overall? Can you want what you have?

If you can, you are standing in a good place. You are in a place where appreciation leads to self-care, and self-care leads to doing what you need to do to stick to your plan. Wanting what you have is one way to stay connected in a deep way to what's important to you - you!   

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ginger Crinkle Cookies

by Kris Pitcher

This is a beautiful cookie! It's one of my favorites to make, very easy and truly comes out so pretty and perfect. And as a bonus, and who doesn't like a cookie bonus?'s not a nutrition nightmare! This year, I've made them to share at a cookie and clothing exchange party - how much fun! To all my new friends, enjoy Fitness Bliss, and your Ginger Crinkle Cookies! Preheat  the oven to 350 degrees f and let's get crinkling!

Ginger Crinkle Cookies:
  • 2/3 C canola oil
  • 1 1/2 C sugar, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 T molasses
  • 2 C sifted whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger (you can use fresh too if you have it)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix oil and 1 C sugar in a large bowl until combined. Beat in egg until combined. Stir in molasses until evenly incorporated. Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt over the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  3. Put the remaining 1/2 C sugar in a small bowl. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and roll each ball in the sugar before placing 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Do not flatten.
  4. Bake the cookies until set, but still soft when gently touched, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool. (I like to bake them on the 10 minute or even 8 minute side.)
Nutrition: Per cookie 103 calories; 5 g fat; 15 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 94 mg sodium; 38 mg potassium

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sticking To It

by Kris Pitcher

What are your values around health?
I met a delightful lady this week who said if she can stick to anything for three days it's a miracle! Someone else said something very similar in the context of health care and wouldn't it be smart if a wellness coach was part of your health care team to keep you on track. Well yes it would! Hello!

These are conversations I have with people all the time- it's not easy to stick with something...anything. And the minute you get off track just a little bit, it's really difficult to find your way back. People who are good at things practice. That goes for your health and fitness too. And you don't have to be perfect, this isn't an all or none deal. It's not like if you messed up this morning and hit the snooze twelve times and didn't make it to the treadmill it's the end of the world. Maybe you needed your sleep.

What you can do is get right back in there and practice. It all comes back to why it's important to you...remember the talk we had about that? When you connect your health and fitness to your becomes pretty clear why it's important. And if something is important to you you'll do it. That is the key to sticking to it.

It isn't any easier for me either, just to let you in on a secret. I'm on a focused eating plan, because I want to make some body composition changes. But sometimes I struggle, I look at the carby goodies in the work room and remind myself, sternly, those are not for me. Then I have visions of rubbing carrot cake all over my face...which would be CRAZY! And I walk away smiling as I think about the people who will eat that cake and how they might as well be rubbing it on their thighs since that's where it will end up. Is something wrong with me? 

Practice what's important to you, this is the key to sticking to any program. The reality is you need to be able to adapt changes in habits that you can live with. You only have to stick to it as long as you want it to work. Stay connected to your values each and every makes the journey a little easier.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Skinny Fat

by Kris Pitcher

I was reading an article recently which introduced me to a new term, "average weight obese". We know these folks as "skinny fat". But hearing the concept in more medically accepted terminology brings both merit and attention to an issue. Slim people who are of average looking size yet carry more than the acceptable or recommended percentages of fat (adipose tissue) fit this category. They are obese. Wow, won't they be surprised when they get their body composition tested? And believe me, softening the language for these folks is difficult..."You're carrying over 35% body fat, you are over fat - you fit in the obese category." Wha!?

The greatest challenge is also the good news for our skinny fat friends. By adding strength training they can build lean body mass. Think about your muscle cells, or fibers, like empty snack size zip lock bags. We, for the most part, have all of the cells (empty little bags) that we're going to have. Those little snack sized bags are inside a bigger bag - a quart sized freezer bag. Are you with me? That freezer bag is our muscle, let's say it's our biceps. (Yes smarty pants, there would be two freezer bags, bi-ceps...but let's keep this simple.)

Think of each fiber or cell like a snack sized zip lock bag.

Through strength training - putting the muscles through progressively increasing work load we build those cells - our snack sized bags (fill them up). Why? Because we're asking our muscles to do more work. The more work we do, the more cells we need to call into action, or recruit. Those snack sized bags which are now full press against the bigger freezer bag, and bingo-bango we have a toned muscle! Man I love this stuff!

If we're skinny fat, we've stopped asking those cells to do work, and they're empty - deflated, empty, lazy bags. Increase the work load by lifting weights, and we fill up our bags, make sense at all?

Once we fill up the bags, we need to keep asking these cells to do more work. Use it or lose it. You've heard that before. We call that the principle of regression, when we stop asking our muscles to do work, we lose our strength...empty bags. Forget your skinny fat friends for a minute, think about your aging loved ones. Strength training is the number one, in my opinion, key component to maintaining independence. Maintaining lean body mass is critical to being able to live on your own and take care of your needs. Period.

So, being average weight isn't necessarily an indicator of health. Average weight obesity could be lurking under those skinny jeans, and that is not healthy. Don't be afraid to fill those empty bags up by strength training. The last thing we want is to be skinny fat. And by all means don't worry about your muscles, er uh, bags getting too big...if that were ever to happen, you'd just enlist the principle of regression.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

House of Carbs

By Kris Pitcher

Eating on the road is difficult no doubt about it. But for me, observing other people's habits presents a real learning moment. What I learn is reinforcement of controlling my nutritional environment when I can. I'd say I'm aware of people's habits, but when I'm out there being a consumer with the masses...I'm hyper-aware. And on my recent quick business trip, I was eyes "wide open" to the world around me.

In my un-scientific, non-peer reviewed completely observational opinion, Americans are nutrient deficient. How can that be, right? In an obese country of excess and over consumption? Well, I'll tell you what - we live in a "house of carbs". Our society is full of ready made, and made to order cheap eats full of carbs. Period. Restaurant menus either quick choices or sit down alike, it's difficult to get the nutrients you need. Specifically our power house friend, protein.

It's generally agreed that we need between .8-1.0 gram of protein per pound of body weight (lean body mass). That's for us ladies, guys you need a bit more. Some experts recommend a bit higher, some lower. This essential macro nutrient is made up of amino acids. Amino acids come in two categories; essential - which must come from our diet (there are 8), and non-essential - which our body can create (pretty cool). Protein is responsible for building and repairing our tissues, and our bodies use those amino acids to help regulate our metabolism and support our immune system. Seems pretty important right?

When I analyse people's food logs, or make un-scientific observations amongst the masses, I'm not surprised they are struggling with their weight when they are taking in 10% of their nutrients in protein, 75% carbohydrate, and 15% fat. Lots of room to balance out nutrients, and there are countless benefits which go along with that.

If you're not tracking your intake, you don't know what your getting. You know me, so day one of travel I was eating baggies of meat and veggies out of my purse...but day two I was a consumer in the house of carbs. I made my way but it's not easy out there. And the people around me, zero protein. Track your protein for a few days to see if you're low, high, or just right. Getting the appropriate amount of macro nutrients is critical to your nutritional success.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Body Conscious

by Kris Pitcher

This is not me.
There's nothing quite like airline travel to make even the most body-confident shrivel into being body-conscious. I really should have thought more about airport security before my travel day. Now, whether it's for work or pleasure I know the rules - I am a good traveler. I can pack for a week in my carry on and I have the security system down. From when to take off my shoes to what goes in which bin so I look like a pro coming out the other side.

But with the new security scanners I never thought I would become so body-conscious. Suddenly I wondered if I should have stepped up my cardio leading up to my trip. Lifting my arms over my head I stood in the scanner wishing I hadn't skipped shaving my armpits to shave a few minutes off my morning routine. At least with my arms raised that little bit of tummy smoothes out...who's looking at me I wondered? I started to sweat as I thought about my panty liner....they can see everything. "At least it's not a diaper." I comforted myself.

Quickly I flexed my glutes as if I were on stage presenting my physique. Shoulders back, chest up. Do I look nervous? I'm standing in the airport a virtual unclothed digital me...of course I'm nervous. I wanted to tell the person I felt like I was retaining a little water. That it was off season and I had put on a bit of size. I thought I should apologize for not having time for a pedicure, but I know there's little room for humor...and they're not judging me right?

I will tell you one thing, if you thought you could slide through the winter in your sweaters and long pants...without making an appointment to see your waxer, you better cancel your travel plans. If there's an airport in your future, you've got all the incentive you need to stick to your plan. Maybe even step it up a notch. I'm all for security, and I'm staying on track so next time I'm scanned - I'll stand body-confident!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Making Meals Easy, Where Sparks Fly

by Kris Pitcher

I'm on a nutrition role here so I'm just going to give you one more on this topic. You might not like it, because I'm also feeling a bit of tough love coming through. I think people have a misinformed fantasy idea about meal time. And I'm not talking about everyone sitting down together, don't be crazy. But sparks are not going to fly each time you sit down to eat...they're just not. It's not going to be exciting, or new, or different. Give up the idea that it's a wild variety of culinary wonder. Let it go. Bye-bye...

When we are making changes, managing our weight, trying to lose weight, gaining control of our choices, increase our performance, run a marathon, go off insulin - fill in your own ad lib style goal there - our food becomes fuel. It's a tool. No longer is it recreation, celebration, or medication. It's fuel to run our body, and if we use it correctly we will meet our goals.

Making meals easy means preparing and planning ahead. Take a day and prepare food for at least 4 days. At any one time, we've got 2 or 3 kinds of protein cooked and ready in the refridgerator. When there are carb days, there's rice prepared ahead. Frozen veggies are waiting in the freezer. At meal time it's a matter of selecting your protein and veggies, done. Spice it up with different spice mixes, or sauces and your meal is ready. As things run low, it's to the freezer to bring something up to thaw, or put more chicken in the crock-pot.

Let go of the idea that your meals will be exciting and different every time, and begin to shift your view of food. You have to work for what you want and unfortunately our socialized views of food don't align with what most of us want (regardless of how fun that Happy Meal was). Look at where those views have gotten us. Trust me, meeting your goals is where the sparks will fly.