Monday, January 31, 2011

Ups and Downs

by Kris Pitcher

As we welcome February in, our rate of success with change may either be going well, or taking a turn. January may have brought some ups and downs. The way we view those can determine our future success.

Which way will you turn?
Whether we see a blip in the road as a failure or a challenge frames our mindset for how we move forward. Or if we move forward at all. This is the turning point. It's the point that defines the people who move on and continue with a healthy lifestyle, and those who fall off the wagon only to try again next year.

Seeing challenges or setbacks as motivations moves us forward. Being able to do that means seeing your imperfections and allowing yourself to make mistakes and be human. There's a thought. If you had a week where you didn't make progress, reflect on where you might have been able to do better. And then do better. Part of it is letting your defenses down, and not making excuses. It's taking responsibilities for your outcomes.

And we will have challenges along the way. That's normal. We won't always be charging forward making great progress. There will be times when we plateau, when we have a stressful week, or have to travel, or when life just gets a little hectic. We balance a lot of things in our lives, managing our wellness is a huge part of that. There's an eb and flow with it, it's not a perfect process.

Finding the good along the way in each situation keeps us learning. Accept the challenges in the ups and downs. Being able to find motivation in them will keep you moving forward creating your new lifestyle! 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What Defines You?

by Kris Pitcher

I have struggled with this for a long time. It's more like a tug-of-war really. Sometimes I have a clear sense of what defines me and other times it seems to slip through my hands, leaving me with rope burns in my palms.

Many people, especially in Western society, define themselves by their job. I don't really like that method. Maybe because I've had what you call a series of careers...serial careers. Maybe it's because I've never been sure of what I wanted to be. Or maybe I'd just rather be something other than my job.

We tend to hang on to things, to moments, experiences which have over time defined us. Not always to our advantage. I can see us dragging our baggage down the street behind us...defining us. Except it's not a super whirly bag of today that turns 360 degrees on a dime, we're dragging that big, mustard yellow, big buckle suitcase of the '70s. The one with no wheels.

We can let all of those moments go. We're done with those now, and the baggage too. So, what defines us? It's been said that we're defined by what we do in our alone time. The things we do in our free time, and the person we are in our free time defines who we truly are. It that's true, who are you?

What I'm wondering is are we giving our best selves to our loved ones in our free time or have we used all that up at work? What's left at the end of the day, at the end of the week for ourselves and our families? Are we tired, stressed, crabby, distant, preoccupied, on the computer all weekend?

Defining self might be a matter of perspective. Thinking of the self you want to be, and being that person now. Not waiting for some magic or distant time or thing to happen until you become that person. If you want to be happier, be happier. Do the things that will make you happier right now, don't wait for them to happen to you. You make them happen...right now, today.

Remembering this perspective helps me keep a clear sense of self, of who I am. It helps me stay connected to what I want to do, and to where I'm headed with my goals. And it keeps my palms from getting burned. What are you doing in your alone time, in your free time that defines who you truly are?


Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Light Shines On Lily!

by Kris Pitcher

Team Pitcher has the pleasure of welcoming Lily to our athlete roster! Lily will compete at the Empire Classic in Spokane in April. This will be her first figure competition, but she has a competitive background and a broad base to work from. I hope you enjoy getting to know this bright young lady and watching her journey to the stage!

KP: Tell me a little bit about how you were influenced by fitness growing up.
LH: To me, fitness is the physical action conducted by an individual in order to attain a healthy lifestyle. Throughout my childhood there have been many experiences that shaped my thirst for fitness. I remember being in gymnastics when I was 5 yrs old and wanting to be the best. As competitive as this sounds, I think I have always aimed to hit higher limits and to push myself to be a better athlete. I was involved in multiple school sports including volleyball, track and field, dancing and gymnastics. Always being involved in sports and fitness enabled my motivation. It honed my ability to focus and apply myself in school, friendships and with my personal development. Fitness has most definitely been and is a primary function with my ideological beliefs. 

KP: Where did you go to school and were you involved in organized athletics?
LH: I am currently enrolled in a business program online through Brigham Young University Idaho. Yet previously, I was on campus at BYU Provo in Utah studying Nutrition. This was a very good time for me and the role fitness played in my life. I completely changed as an individual during my time there as did my interests for fitness. I started running as a therapeutic release during my first year of college. It helped me focus and discover the joy of learning. And I'm sure you can predict what developed with my running, I started signing up for races and marathons. As always I wanted to push the limit and see myself develop after taking on that responsibility. It was during this time I first became interested in becoming a personal trainer. I attained two certifications within my second year of college and started training at a local gym.

KP: From marathon runner to power lifter, I can sense you're good at whatever you set your mind on. Where does that drive come from?
LH: Really good question. My drive comes simply from being happy with who I am and reflecting on what brings me alive. I notice the effect fitness has on my life and I would never drop it or take it for granted. My drive originates from my heart and because I trust that source I find no limits to what I can achieve.

KP: How did you become interested in figure competitions?
LH: Another thing you must know about me, the discovery of my interests/motivation is similar to a light switch. I see something and a switch turns on. I research the subject, I converse with educated professionals and try to understand why it initially turned on. This enables me to visualize myself committing to that goal. But to answer your question, I committed to doing a figure competition because I want that challenge. I want the growth that will come personally and professionally once I meet that bar. I know life comes in stages and between those stages there are growth spurts with trials and challenges. With the end result being change and growth. I am simply ready for growth and want to enable my future and succeed as much as possible in the fitness industry.

KP: What is your favorite body part to train? What are you working on most for your upcoming competition?
LH: This question makes me laugh. I love training my legs! More specifically my quadriceps. It's a large muscle group and it is always challenging to hit the full range of motion while keeping my body aligned and balanced. For the second part, I am focusing on gaining more muscle on my back and thighs. But, I find I am reflecting more on the specific mechanics of the diet plan. I have never had to cut this much body fat before in any sport or competition. I want to make sure I understand fully what my body is going through so I can benefit greatly from this experience.

KP: What have you learned about yourself so far as you've started training for competition?
LH: I love committing myself to a goal that is challenging and rewarding to my physical/psychological well-being. I have already felt the results of committing to this goal. My passion for fitness has been renewed. I take more joy in working out, and I like seeing the results of that dedication. More than anything, I have learned that if you do not strive to do what you love every day your light and vivacity for life dims. 

KP: What do you think will challenge you the most through the process (training/dieting/balancing work/life/family/energy/other)?
LH: My priorities will stay the same through prep and competition, but I believe the diet will be most challenging especially towards the end. I expect I will have to do lots of meditation to find my center and renew my commitment when I am 2-3 weeks out.

KP: It's early on, but assuming you have a great contest experience, what's next for you once you check this off your list?
LH: I plan to build up some experience competing in the next 12-24 months, attaining a greater understanding of the industry and how I can grow within it. Hopefully I will be able to do more shows this year? 

KP: Readers want to know, so I have to ask...what's your relationship status?
LH: I am single gentlemen. 

KP: It's a pleasure to welcome you to Team Pitcher, is there anything else you'd like to share with readers?
LH: If you're interested in my story please follow me on my social networking sites:

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Happen to Give a Crap

by Kris Pitcher

I thought I was pretty open...but I'm just going to come out and say it. I'm prejudice. If you're going to be offended you might just want to go to your happy place right now. Get in your bubble, and put your headphones in.

I am offended when I see people drink sugar pop. There I said it. Go ahead, hate me. I'm offended the same way as when I see someone smoking. I feel like they should be hiding behind the dumpster out back behind the building. It's just that we're too smart. We know way too much to be carrying on with this ridiculous habit.

So the first time I saw this lady at work drinking a sugar pop I thought - maybe she's celebrating. It was a pot-luck kind of deal. But then I saw her again and she had her pop concealed in one of those neoprene cooler sleeves, like you'd put your Bud Light in on a hot summer day! THIS IS A SMART WOMAN! What is wrong with her? Now I've seen her several times with her sugar pop, and she's just a sugar pop drinker.

She's height-weight proportionate in an averagely plump way. But the repercussions of sugar are only slightly about weight. Think about the depression of immune system, the insulin response and chemical overload on the pancreas, and the damage to the enamel on your teeth. The mood swings and dependancy, the road to diabetes - I am just surprised.

So, there you have it. I don't feel any better for having confided this secret. I know it's unrealistic to expect others to share my understanding or knowledge, or to give a crap. It's just hard not to wish better health on people around me. And I happen to give a crap.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Skinny On Fat

by Kris Pitcher

It wasn't too long ago that fat free was the thing. If food trends were like fashion, that was it! Fat free this and fat free that...if you could cut all the fat out of your diet, you were a super star. Well, let me tell you something - it left our skin dry, our hair brittle, and our bodies...well, fat! Let's look at the skinny on fat, an essential macro nutrient.

Macro means that it makes up the largest component of our nutrients. Protein, carbohydrates, fat, and water are macro nutrients. Fat is essential for energy and it supports cell growth. It helps to protect our organs and insulates our body. Fats help us absorb nutrients (fat soluble vitamins A/D/E/K are stored in our fat) and produce important hormones. It's pretty important. We don't just want to eat any ol' fat, we want to eat good fats.

You probably already know the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats mostly come from animal sources and are solid at room temperature, yick! Unsaturated fats come from plant sources and are liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats further categorize into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These types of fats help lower risk of heart disease by reducing the total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in our blood.

The super star of the polyunsaturated fats is the Omega-3. You've heard of her? Omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial to our heart, and decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. They may also protect against irregular heat beats and help lower blood pressure. This super fat is proving to have an anti-inflammatory effect which has a positive effect on many degenerative diseases.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty, cold water fish like wild salmon, anchovies, herring, and oysters, flax seeds, flax oil, walnuts, & egg yolks. Many people take a fish oil supplement to make sure they're getting what they need.

It seems counter intuitive to eat fat to lose fat, but including this essential nutrient in our diet is crucial to optimal health, and to weight loss. Including an ounce of walnuts with your morning snack will not only help you get your omega-3's it will also help you feel satiated through to  lunch time. Be picky about your fat, you don't want any old fat - you want healthy fats! And now you know.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Double Fisted

by Kris Pitcher

Move over Big Gulp!
It's already rolled out in several states and boy is Starbucks proud to present their newest creation to the masses! It used to be that in order to get your full sized fix you had to frequent the likes of 7-eleven. No offense to those of you who like a bargain on those hot dogs, two for $2 is a screaming deal. But it's no high brow coffee spot, I don't care how many flavors of that creamer they have.

Deep down I know you love the way you have to double fist the Big Gulp. The size of that 32 ounces in your mitts...the giant straw. Brings back summer time, young romance, and self-propelled transportation. Am I right? Hello roller skates, grab your money honey, we're skating to 7-eleven!

Tell me you have a cup holder for that bad boy in your car? My sensible German engineered vehicle has a cup holder for maybe an espresso shot...but nothing larger. So, when Starbucks goes nationwide in May with their 31 oz. Trenta, pull over and get ready to double fist a behemoth of velvety cold liquid relief. It's 916 ml of icy goodness. Did you know the adult stomach capacity on average is only 900 ml. That's a relief, if you over do it with your Trenta, you have a barf vessel. 

Reportedly, the Trenta "only" packs 230 calories for a sweetened iced coffee. But the spokesperson didn't say how many calories the Mocha Frappuchino has...they're giving insulin shots with that one (kidding people!).

Well, I guess bigger IS better. Starbucks has proven it. I do worry about the more slight employees bending out the drive-thru window with the Trenta - making that careful hand off. It's a lot to handle. You might want to make sure you've got a roll of paper towels in your rig. Certainly, you're not going to drink that in the'd be there a while - double fisted, your hands frozen to your ginormous Trenta. I know some of you will get one. All I can say is...Be careful... 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lifestyle of an Icon

by Kris Pitcher

Sunday afternoon marked the loss of a true icon of fitness. Within a couple of hours the news had gone "viral" and Jack LaLanne's death was well known. At 96 years old, he died surrounded by his family having left a remarkable impact on this world. He pioneered fitness and revolutionized exercise for women. In 1936, he opened a studio offering weight training for athletes and women. Absolutely unheard of.

He was the poster man for making fitness a lifestyle. His website hosts a quote which perfectly states what I've been thinking about in terms of making lifestyle changes, "Anything in life is possible, if YOU make it happen!" - Jack LaLanne

Making lifestyle changes stick can be a challenge. We talk about the importance of making lifestyle changes, but how exactly do we do that? There are some things you can do to maximize your success rate. Making changes takes time, give yourself 30 days to make new habits part of your every day life. Here are a few tips to actually incorporate your new habits into your lifestyle:

  • Name It - giving clear definition to your goals gives your new habit purpose and naming it makes it real
  • Do It Daily - consistency is critical to making habits stick, practice, practice, practice
  • Structure - creating structure around your new habit gives you something to count on
  • Stay the Course - same time, same place for 30 days makes your new habit old hat in no time 
  • Associate With Role Models - spend more time with people who model the habits you are adopting
  • In With The New - when you give up an "old" habit, replace it with a new habit. No more snacking in front of the TV at night, pick up knitting to keep your hands busy
  • Plan - plan your day with your new habit - it won't happen to you by accident
These things will help you weave your new habit into your lifestyle. By doing things consistently they become part of our regular daily habits. Fitness and healthy eating were a consistent part of Jack's lifestyle up to the final days. He taught us so much about eating well and moving more. Here's to you Jack!  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Keep Your FLAB In Check

by Kris Pitcher

If weight management were just about calories in and calories out, it would be easy. It's not easy. If eating were simply about fueling our bodies, we would simply eat what we need. Nothing about it is simple. I'm an eater. I can eat my husband under the table any night of the week. And the truth is, we eat for a lot of different reasons.

We do different things when we are stressed out or bored, or sad. Some people lose their appetite - me, I've never really needed to feel hungry to eat. I know I'm not alone, and learning your triggers is important to staying the course with weight management.

I recently heard a great acronym, and who doesn't love an acronym, to help determine why you're about to eat. Checking in with your feelings is a great thing to do, and then you may need to redirect your actions. Let's check in:
  • F - Frustrated
  • L - Lonely
  • A - Angry
  • B - Bored
Ah, yes, can we count the times we noshed on a handful of fill-in-the-blanks because we were frustrated, lonely, angry, or bored. Take those times out of the equation and we might just make this weight management thing work! When we're feeling FLAB, we need to redirect our actions.

Take a walk, sip a cup of tea, read a book, put hand lotion on, call a friend, or paint your nails. It is really hard to eat chips out of a bag with wet nails. Learning to check your feelings and redirect your actions is key to controlling mindless emotional eating.

I keep my emotional eating in check by knowing my triggers, keeping my stress in balance, and by maintaining my schedule. That goes for sleep schedule, eating schedule - all of that. What will you do to keep your FLAB in check?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Are You Getting Enough?

by Kris Pitcher

My ideal recovery spot!
A self-professed home body, my weekends are all about recovery. People recharge in different ways. Some people feed off the energy of social engagements, crowds and go go go! Others re-fuel their soul with solitude.

Recovery is essential to making progress with your health and fitness goals. Regardless of your goals, rest and recovery are critical to forward progress. I feel a little sheepish when someone asks me about my weekend. It's pretty much the same...every weekend.

I sleep in as long as I can, which is usually about 6:00 AM if I'm lucky. Our day is filled with a workout (but no cardio for me), a nap, some laundry, grocery shopping, a movie with our feet up on the coffee table and I'm falling asleep by 9:00 PM. Not too exciting. But very restorative in my opinion. It's what I need to recharge and recover. Sunday is a repeat along with a visit to my parents' after our workout, and a little more organizing for the work week.

Recovery is about physical repair, and rest. It's when we actually get stronger, and realize the training effects of our work. It's when our body repairs tissue and replenishes energy stores. Rest days give us a mental break as well. It's important to build recovery into your training plan. Sometimes people feel like they can't take a day off. The risk? Over training, leading to injury and diminished performance.

More isn't better. Rest and recovery need to be part of your training plan. If you're not making gains, your progress has taken a halt, or you've just been spinning you wheels - it might be time to actually back off a little and make sure youre getting enough recovery in your training plan.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Realize Your Funk!

by Kris Pitcher

I need to talk to you...can I tell you something that might be difficult for you to hear? Let's just sit together, well actually if you'd sit over there. There's something I've been meaning to tell you, but I just haven't wanted to get felt we were close enough for me to say it until now.

I'll say this as nicely as I can. Your body odor is somewhat offensive. I realize you may not recognize the way you smell at the gym...sure, sure - you're right. People sweat at the gym. Everyone sweats at the gym. It's just you're extra smelly, like clear out the room smelly.

It's true, and there are a few at EVERY gym. In my previous life as a fitness facility Executive Director, I had to have conversations (a little gentler) like this with adults, smelly adults! Please make sure you are wearing your deodorant. Make sure you are showering daily with soap. Consider cotton fabrics rather than synthetics which bread bacteria. Bring 2 shirts if you sweat through one, change after your cardio before your lifting. Wear a fresh workout outfit each day. Don't leave dirty workout clothes in your gym bag. Wash your shoes in the washer and let them air dry. Shower with soap after you workout. Seriously.

Some of us are just smellier, or sweatier than others. It's just how it goes. It's a three alarm emergency if I forget my deodorant. Sweating is our body's air conditioning mechanism. It's natural and OK. It's essential. And then other people are just rotten inside! It's one thing to sweat out a little garlic, but there's some garbage eatin' bears out there in the gym. What are you people eating!?

This is a challenging issue, but one that gym management should be able to address individually with offenders. In my experience, people didn't realize their funk, and they took measures to correct it. I probably did them a huge social favor, and it sure helped the culture of the weight room! Don't be that guy, if the room clears out when you enter...realize your funk!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Curry's Copious Cures!

by Kris Pitcher

Curry powder is a vibrant and complex mix of spices which varies by country and region. One of the spices in curry is Turmeric which contains curcumin giving it its vibrant yellow color. Curcumin is partly responsible for some of curry powder's health benefits and every one's talking about it!

If it were up to me I'd wrap myself in sahris and crash parties as a super-socialite. But that would be crazy! I mean who would do that? So, instead of tripping over myself or risking unwrapping I'll settle for getting my Indian fix by indulging in curry's copious cures.

Curcumin reduces inflammation of the joints - it's an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent. It's also thought to deactivate genes that can trigger the onset and spread of breast cancer. Studies are being conducted at MD Anderson Center in Texas, a renowned cancer center, on its effects, finding that it turns these genes off.

Other studies suggest its effect in slowing progression of prostate and colorectal cancers. It's thought that it may make melanoma cells (skin cancer) more likely to self-destruct. Further, it may help prevent Alzheimer's disease because curcumin acts to clear the brain of protein deposits that are thought to cause the disease.

Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries for treating inflammatory disease. Curry powder is a wonderful mix of spices and when used as powder doesn't add any calories to your meal. (A curry sauce is different.) America's Test Kitchen tried all kinds of custom blends and found the one in the supermarket spice isle was the best. So pick some up and start shaking! Spice things up and enjoy the anti-inflammatory benefits of curry!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Powerhouse Mineral!

by Kris Pitcher

Packed with calcium!
It's the most abundant mineral in the body. It needs magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamins D & K to be absorbed and used efficiently. What is it? Calcium! Calcium is a powerhouse of a mineral. It is essential for strong bones and teeth, which I bet you knew. But did you know that it is responsible for the release of certain hormones, essential for muscle contraction and relaxation, nerve functioning and it helps our blood to clot? Pretty important. Oh, and don't forget you heart is a muscle, so it's responsible for maintaining our heart beat.

The National Institutes of Health says that many Americans consume less than half of the amount recommended to build and maintain healthy bones. We lose between 400-500 mgs/day - see that long list of jobs it's got to do up there? And when we add things like soda, caffeine, and alcohol to our diets we lose more. So what?

Well, when we don't take enough in, our body takes what it needs from our bones. Over time, we develop osteoporosis, break a hip and then fall down the stairs. Not a good scenario.

Low-fat dairy, cheese, tofu, almonds, brewer's yeast, bok choy, Brazil nuts (although my sister is allergic to those), broccoli, cabbage, dried figs, kelp, dark leafy greens like kale, turnip, collard, dandelion, Swiss chard, hazelnuts, oysters, sardines and canned salmon are all great sources of dietary calcium. It is best to get the calcium you need from the foods you eat.

Spend a week focusing your nutrient tracking on your calcium to see if you are getting the recommended daily allowance for adults of:

19-50 years old - 1000 mg
51 & over - 1200 mg
pregnant & breast feeding under 19 - 1300 mg
pregnant & breast feeding over 19 - 1000 mg

Supplements come in different forms and should only be taken under the supervision of your doctor due to medication interactions. Supplements in the form of calcium citrate are the most easily absorbed and digested by the body. The body can only absorb 500 mg in one dose, so small doses are recommended along with a big glass of water to prevent constipation. Glug, glug!

Here is a great opportunity to look at some of the data you've been tracking and see if you are getting the calcium you need from your diet. Increase those dark green leafy vegetables for an extra daily dose of today's powerhouse mineral!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bite Me! And Words That Bite

by Kris Pitcher

I'm happily and productively minding my own business in my office when I'm joined by my colleague. "Wow! You've really packed the food away today!" She says looking at my Pyrex pyramid. I look at my 3 empty medium sized containers flanked by 2 smaller ones, with 3 plastic spoons spooning each other by their side. My meal time remnants were nestled next to my cooler which contained one last meal.

Before I could say anything she came at me again. "What's in all those anyway?!" "Well," I start...kindness I think to myself. "Lean meat and vegetables. And oatmeal in the little ones." I finish. Bite me! I've lost almost 5 pounds this month, what have you done! This comment remains behind my smile.

"I'm here 8 hours" I explain, "so, I eat 4 meals here every day." I go on to explain that I eat about 1700 calories each day. But I can see she's stopped listening. She proceeds to tell me she doesn't think she eats enough early on in the day, and then too much in the evening. I suggested she spread her calories out during the day, eating every few hours. I've suggested this several times a year...for going on 5 years.

I don't think people mean to be abrasive. I have to believe they're just interested in what you're doing. But people say the darnedest things. I'm warming a meal in the microwave in the work room and someone says, "What strange thing are you eating today?" Well, I wasn't aware that I had the reputation for eating weird things. Um, chicken and broccoli...very odd. "Oh, that isn't so strange!" She said. Why, no it isn't. But this exchange sure was!

Maybe doing something different just makes us hypersensitive. Maybe people don't think before they say things out loud. Maybe people don't know how to ask about what you're doing in a normal way? I'm not sure. But sometimes people say things that bite. I don't think about my eating "behavior" as being that different. I bring food from home with me, and I eat it. But I guess based on what others around me are's pretty weird.

So, once again I will resign myself to not be phased by words that bite, or to retort with "Bite Me!". I will remind myself that people are interested and are looking for a way to make conversation. I will put down my defenses and my sensitivities and I will think kindness before I respond.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spot Reduction, Is It Possible?

by Kris Pitcher

Is it possible to spot reduce? Spot reduction is decreasing fat in one particular place on your body. There are wraps and "treatments" which would like you to believe it can be done. But, I bet with all the sit-ups you've done during your life...and the condition of your tummy (I'm just guessing here) you'd know deep down the answer is, no.

Won't my sit-ups do it?!
Let's take the abdominals for instance. Sit-ups do what? They strengthen the abdominals. The rectus abdominus runs vertically from your breast bone to your pubic bone. Think about the muscle tissue between two sheets of plastic wrap. It's the most visible of this muscle group on the guy with the "6 pack". The transverse abdominus runs like a cumber bun, horizontally beneath the rectus abdominus. Our obliques run cris-cross, making an X along our sides. So, there's the basics of our "abs" and we do all kinds of sit-ups in different configurations to strengthen this group of muscles.

But remember that resistance exercises strengthen muscles...all those sit-ups aren't going to do anything to the layer of fat that is concealing those muscles. I call that the 12 pack. Sit-ups will not spot reduce the fat. They will not turn the fat into muscle (go back to "apples and oranges"). 

What to do? We do our cardio to burn fat. This happens in an overall manner dictated by our genetics. We also eat clean. "Abs & *sses are made in the kitchen!" That's the saying amongst competitors. It's true.

Spot reduction is possible though if you don't want to do all that work. Liposuction. It's pretty costly. And you can undo it pretty fast as soon as you're back to your martinis and dinners out. Wraps and treatments change the appearance of the skin for a short time by adding hydration, but if you don't empty the fat cells...well the fats still there! No foolin' me!

Save your money and do the work. Don't be fooled by product claims that aren't backed by an ounce of truth. Knowing a little basic science helps us make solid decisions. Strengthen your core muscles, but know why you're doing ab work. You'll create those abs you want in the kitchen!   

Monday, January 17, 2011

Paralyzed By Its Power

by Kris Pitcher

These must weigh a 1/4 pound!
She felt anticipation and then doom as she woke from slumber. Wishing she was still asleep her feet hit the floor. She thumped down the hall in her socked feet and flipped on the bathroom light. Emptying her bladder she looked at her thick socks. I should take those off first. Reaching for her nightgown at her hips she drew it over her head and dropped it on the tile floor. She sat hoping to empty a little more.

It loomed in front of her. "Health O Meter" it read in blue letters. She'd gotten the professional model after many years of struggling with home models she didn't trust. She started to pull up her underwear and dropped those to the floor too. What if it's heavier than last week? Feeling the cool tile under her feet she thought of the cookie she snuck in the work-room.

Standing now unclothed in the bathroom she glanced in the mirror. Is my butt fatter this week? Just get on the scale already! What if it's better? She felt almost paralyzed, wanting to know...but not wanting to know. She knew if it was worse than last week it would just prove she was weak.

I did all the right things. I mostly stuck to my plan. I did all my feet are cold. I feel sick. Crap! I hate you scale! This is stupid - I'm getting on it!

Does this sound like your morning? A lot of us struggle with the scale. We let it dictate what kind of a day we're going to have. We let it tell us if we've been "good", or "bad". We let it determine if we are the right number. It can send us into a tail spin, or on a binge. How did it ever get this kind of power over us?

It is time to take back your power. The scale doesn't measure anything but your body weight. It doesn't measure your body composition. It doesn't measure your hydration. If you have a problem with the scale, get rid of it. That's right, get rid of it. If you are on it more than once a week (like several times a day) get rid of it. Cold turkey sister! You need a break.

Over the past month I have made significant changes to my body composition. The scale does not show it. If I only took into account what the scale said, I'd be beating my head against the wall...on the floor in a fetal position eating brownies. But I'm not, why - because I'm smarter than the scale. It's time you got smarter too.

I've changed my body composition to the tune of a loss of 4.5 lbs of body fat over the last month. My weight however has stayed the same. It's actually fluctuated, but mostly remained the same. Huh? That's because I am pushing weights like crazy to build lean body mass. I'm getting smaller, leaner, and my body weight (on the scale) is staying the same. Stop letting the scale run your life.

Do the things you know you are supposed to be doing for your healthy lifestyle. Know you will have times that are "dynamic", when you have to adapt. It's ok, remember we do healthy things for a lifestyle, for a life time. Take your power back from the scale right now. Don't wait a minute longer.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies

by Kris Pitcher

What a beautiful cookie!
This recipe was shared by the super hip and creative Devon, who is the only photographer to ever make me look beautiful and glamorous.

Find her work at

It comes from allrecipes but I altered it quite a bit, so I'll give you my version. When I overheard her telling someone else about this cookie I knew it would make me the most coveted wife on earth should I make this for my husband. This could be the thing which catapults me to uber least within my household. Heat the oven to 350 and be prepared to find the way to your lovers heart!

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies
6 slices maple-cured bacon, chopped
2/3 c sugar (original called for 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 c softened butter (original called for 1 cup)
4 oz. natural no sugar added apple sauce
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 c all-purpose flour
2/3 c cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 c dark chocolate chips (original called for simi-sweet)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 F; cook bacon in skillet, drain on paper towels, chopp. Beat sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla &  apple sauce until smooth. Stir in four, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Mix in chocolate chips and bacon. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes in preheated oven. Let stand 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

*Decreasing the fat and sugar in baking is easy to do, replacing some of the moisture and sweetness with natural apple sauce works nicely. I buy the apple sauce in snack packs so I have the perfect premeasured amounts ready for baking. The recipe doesn't miss either of these ingredients. The cookies are plenty sweet and have a nice balance between sweet and savory. I can't wait for Jacques to try them!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Toddlers, The Cat and My Dad

by Kris Pitcher

I would love one of these!
Toddlers resist it, the cat glorifies it and my dad just plain gets the practicality of the daily nap. In fact taking cues from the cat, napping happens throughout the day in various places in the house depending on where the sun is. If the sun does not show itself napping places still rotate based on time of day. Interesting. Upon first glance one might think, "lazy cat". But she has a schedule.

Now, toddlers I don't know much about and I figure they just want to do the opposite of what you're trying to get them to do.  My dad on the other hand is just plain smart. He knows a daily nap is good for his health. Either that, or he's hibernating.

I'm all for napping! Naps are part of the weekend schedule, and I'm not admitting to napping at work...but I do have a "yoga" mat in my office and a fleece blanket in my drawer. Those things are for meditating though. describes the five stages of sleep: stage 1 - we drift in and out and can be awoken easily, we have sudden muscle contractions with feelings of falling; stage 2 - eye movement stops and brain waves slow with only an occasional burst of activity; stage 3 - extremely slow brain waves called delta waves are interspersed with smaller faster waves; stage 4 - the brain produces delta waves almost exclusively; stage 5 - REM (rapid eye movement) breathing becomes more rapid, irregular and shallow, eyes jerk rapidly and limb muscles are temporarily paralyzed, brain waves increase to levels when awake, heart rate and blood pressure increase, we dream, and most experience 3-5 intervals of REM sleep per night. Stages 3 & 4 are considered "deep sleep". Fascinating.

I experience stage 1 on the couch all the time. My husband asks, "Are you asleep?" And I don't even lie, I tell him yes. I used to lie and say no. Why do we do that?

Naps are great for boosting energy and 15-20 minutes will do the trick. Research shows napping for longer than 20 minutes helps boost creativity. Napping in the 20 minute range is stage 2 sleep and is good for restoring alertness and improving motor skills. Hmm, I should be able to play the piano by now.

Napping for 30-60 minutes, or slow-wave sleep is good for improving decision making skills. Long naps 60-90 minutes put you in REM sleep and play a key role in making new connections in the brain and help with problem solving. Naps reduce our risk for heart disease, lower our stress levels and increase our alertness. Sign me up!

Here are a few tips for Successful Napping:

  • Be Regular - regular naps reduce stress and reduce risk for heart disease
  • Prime Time - nap between 1:00-3:00 pm for the greatest benefit without interrupting night time sleep
  • Be Quick - set the alarm for 30 minutes to avoid feeling groggy
  • Go Dark - nap in a dark room or wear an eye mask to fall asleep faster
  • Stay Warm - stash a blanket nearby to cover up, your body temperature decreases when you snooze
Now cozy up and get your cat nap in. Your brain and heart will thank you. You'll wake feeling refreshed and creative to boot! Now I'm feeling a bit sleepy...

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Great Balancing Act

by Kris Pitcher

Why all this tracking and counting of exercise and calories anyway? It's all about the great balancing act! I'm getting giddy just thinking about sharing this with you...I'll try to hold my inner geek back but I'm not making any promises.

The great balancing act is all about energy balance. Weight management at it's most simple scientific root, is about energy in and energy out. When energy in is greater than energy out, we gain weight. I think we're all familiar with this. When energy out is greater than energy in, we lose weight. When energy in equals energy out, we maintain weight. Do you hear those trumpets, or is that just me? Fireworks...anyone?

I heard something at work that made my hackles go up - you can't manage what you don't measure (I guess it's performance appraisal time). We know this is true. We can't manage what we don't measure. Period. If we're managing our weight, guess what? We should measure our energy in and our energy out. Otherwise, we're just bumbling along wondering why this isn't just magically happening to us.

Energy balance can be a frustrating thing however. It's not just as simple as the numbers. Hormone levels, stress, sleep, hydration, medications...a lot of things can come into play with the simplicity of energy in - energy out. But it's a darn good place to start. Creating a deficit you (and the people around you) can live with is a smart way to look at weight loss in terms of energy balance. You want to expend more calories through activity, and decrease your intake by no more than 200-300 calories daily. No one likes a crab.

Keep in mind, you're looking for changes you can live with for the long haul, not just a few days or a week. People who are successful at weight management manage their weight throughout their lives. They don't just one day stop. Knowing about energy balance helps us understand the importance of tracking and counting. Life is all about the great balancing act!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Running With The Crowd

by Kris Pitcher

My speed registered 3.0 MPH on the treadmill with a modest 5% incline. I was killing time at the gym, sneaking in a few extra minutes of cardio. Now, long-legged never entered a descriptive of me so my shorties were moving right along. Happily decompressing from my day I began to hear footsteps all around me. First pattering, then pounding. I felt the need to quicken my pace. It's prime time and you can bet every treadmill is full.

I look left, jogger. I listen to the whizzing belt to my right and see a blur as I look that way, a runner. Soon the buzz and the pounding fills the air like a stampede and I picture myself running down a city street. "Hey?!" I yell. "What's everyone running from?"

"Don't know!" The lady next to me answers through her gasps. "Well, where are you running to?!" I ask her. "I don't KNOW, I'm just running!" She struggles to answer from the herd.

Men late in their 70's, moms working off their baby fat...from their 12 year old, guys in their late 20's who spent the last 10 years on the couch eating like they were still on the team...and every one's running! I don't get it. Actually, I DO get it.

When people return to exercise, they do what they know, what they remember - they run. Well, no offense to any of you runners out there...but you do not have to run. Running is not where you should begin. And I'd like to tell that to most of these people at the gym so that maybe, just maybe, they'll still be there 30 days from now.

I can see, hear, and feel (thanks for the sweat spray) that their intensity is too high. Working in our target heart rate (HR) zone is important. There are many medications which effect HR so speaking with a professional is a smart place to start. A general guideline is working between 60-80% of 220-your age. My maximum HR (220-age) is 179 (although I am not technically 41 yet, there are still plenty of numbered shopping days left), 60% is 107 & 80%is 143. My target HR zone is 107-143. Got that?

How do I manipulate my HR? Oh, you're asking such smart questions! By the intensity of my exercise. On the trusty treadmill, I have speed and incline. I can walk at 3.0 MPH, and raise the incline to add another dimension of intensity. (No inclining to 15% then hanging on to the handrails by the way - that defeats the purpose of bearing your weight, cheater.)

So, what's the problem if I'm working at oh, say 170? The problem is the fuel source or system my body uses for energy to do the work. My goals are to burn fat, and to increase my cardiovascular capacity - when I work outside my zone, those things aren't happening.

But even more than working outside their target HR zone, people returning to exercise who begin with running are likely to injure themselves. We know that injury leads to dropout, and that's just not the goal. I can hear them all now, "Yeah, I knew it wouldn't work!" "I just failed at this again..."

Wanting to run is fine. Learning to run is great. Gradually. Not all at once. If you're running with the crowd, think about what your goals are. Get yourself a HR monitor and see if you're working at the appropriate intensity. Manipulate your HR with both speed and resistance when doing your cardio. And don't just follow the herd.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Power of The Count

by Kris Pitcher

Those of you who have taken this step know the power in the knowledge of the count. The calorie count! In the world of weight management tracking your food is like having a map. You can see where you've been, what's working, what you might need to change, where you can learn,  where you made "a-ha" moments, and where you made "OMG!" moments.

It can be very eye opening to learn about nutrition and the calorie values that go along with the things you like to eat. As you begin to learn their values, you can make decisions about how they fit into your plan. One thing I find with a lot of people is they aren't eating enough at the right times of the day. This can lead to over eating in the evening. Hello floodgates! Tracking your intake gives you insight into your patterns and can help me help you design a better plan.

Tracking your food is excellent accountability too. Knowing you need to track it makes it a lot easier to keep on walking past that plate of what ever isn't on your plan in the break room at work. It's also very eye opening. You can undo the hard work you did all week with a few hours watching the game, or girls night out. Nachos and 3 Bud Lights, yeah track that!

And guess what? There's an app for that! You smart phone has an app for tracking your food and exercise. It is so easy when it's in the palm of your hand all the time. There are also some great web sites where you can track for free. is one of my favorites. Find one you like, that's going to work for you and get tracking. This is the step that will propel your program to the next level.

It takes time and repetition to learn the values of foods. You'll find there are certain things that just don't fit into your new plan, they don't help you meet your goals...they "cost" too much in terms of their caloric value. I still weigh and measure every meal, every day. I track what I eat. It works! Get on board and take the steps toward the power of the count.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Super Potent Detox Diet!

by Kris Pitcher

Got your attention? I've been meaning to avoid this topic for some time now...but the commercial pelting has gotten to me. It's sure to offend, so I'll just apologize straight away. My intention is not to offend, I'm sorry. It's just I don't want you to think you're full of sledge.

It's natural to want to go a little more, uhm - "natural" this time of year. We are more aware of what we are putting into our bodies. This is a good thing. We want to eat healthy, good. We want to cut down on "bad" things like alcohol, sugar, caffeine, and anything purchased through a drive through window. These are all good things.

Having said that, you don't need a DETOX diet. You don't need special detox products, pills, juices, concoctions, flushes, cleanses etc. etc. etc. Your body is not full of sledge. Toxins are not lodged in your crooks, crevices, or crannies. Your body is an amazing machine and has some fairly sophisticated organs which serve to filter and detoxify.

Your kidneys filter blood and remove waste via urine; they also secrete a number of hormones and play a key role in regulating blood pressure. Your liver is a giant filter. You can't live without it. It's primary function is detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion. It stores glycogen, produces hormones, and produces bile a digestive aid which emulsifies lipids. That bile goes into the gallbladder for a short stop or into the small intestine where it makes it's decent...down and out.

Healthy people who are moving their bowels daily (good for you double doers), who don't have any problems with these organs are doing just fine. Now, I am all for decreasing the amount of toxins we are exposing ourselves to, and ingesting in our foods. And I think that detoxing has it's place. Where you ask? Detoxing gets your head straight is what it does. But you don't need anything but a clean eating plan for that. So let's not even use the "D" word...strike it from your lips!

Plan to eat CLEAN! Fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, herbal teas, and water. No sugar, salt, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, simple carbs. and nothing with frosting, from a box, or at a restaurant. Get your diet cleaned up. Stop eating garbage, processed food and sugar. Increase your fiber to 25 grams per day ladies, guys up yours to 35. Drink your water. And exercise.

Remember this is a multi billion dollar industry full of products lacking scientific backing. Save your money and do what works. Your body is a remarkable machine, regenerating itself everyday. Treat it well, then take it on vacation with all the money you'll save!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Futile Exercise

by Kris Pitcher

Her legs were longer, she was definitely blonder, and younger. I couldn't help but size her up as she was doing dips at the gym. Dips are fairly impressive, and she was refusing a spot from her male companion/boyfriend. She has hair that looks like she's been rolling around in the bedroom but just the right amount. There was no chance this was going to turn out well.

I was trying not to stare directly at her, but I wanted to assess whether her shoulders were better than mine. Skinny waist, broad shoulders...skinny legs. Hmm. She's certainly a pretty girl, she always looks great. You know how some women just always look great. I'm not one of those.

But then after her set she did the most repulsive, disgusting thing. In that moment I had absolutely no question in my silly comparative game who came out ahead. She took her hands bringing her thumbs and middle fingers together to place a ring around the "largest" part of her thigh and no problem she could reach finger to thumb. SICK! Hello bird legs be careful when you walk to the car or you might break a leg! It was repulsive!

Where's my lip gloss?
The exercise was futile from the beginning - comparing ourselves to others is just silly. But I'll be honest it's hard not to do it. If we want to make comparisons, we should compare ourselves to ourselves. Make sense? I mean comparing a gazelle, to a zebra just doesn't work.

Seeing our own changes via how our clothes fit, or taking circumference measurements or even pictures is great. Seeing gains in our strength, in how we feel doing our cardio or in our flexibility - all markers of success. Our weight on the scale is tricky, and I believe we have distorted numbers in our head anyway.

I came away from my few minutes of weakness with confidence in my strength, feeling grateful for my structure, and thinking that this 40 is pretty great. Although I did put on my lip gloss. This zebra's got to strut her stuff!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Breakfast On The Go, Mini Mushroom-&-Sausage Quiches

by Kris Pitcher

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I know that's not news to you. But I still hear people tell me they don't like to eat breakfast because it makes them hungry, because they don't like breakfast food (uh, eat what you like?), and because they're not hungry. None of those excuses hold water with me. After 8 hours of rest full sleep, your body needs fuel. You need to begin the day with the message, "Fuel is plentiful, there is no famine here, burn fat, baby burn!"

This is a great recipe to make ahead and have ready through the week. It's portable, and adjustable meaning you can alter the recipe to use what you like. If for some crazy reason you're not a mushroom fan...add tomatoes for instance. It has a nice balance of fat to protein, and is low in carbs. Great brain power! This will keep you fueled until your mid-morning snack. Get busy today and make yourself a batch of mini quiches for the week, enjoy your breakfast!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Get Your Head In The Game

by Kris Pitcher

There is a lot to be said for tuning in to your workout. For many beginners, tuning out helps them disassociate from the discomfort of doing their cardio, or lifting weights. It helps pass the time while doing something they'd rather not do. Really we should be tuning in to get greater benefits. It's time to get your head in the game.

Focusing on the activity you're doing is important. Feeling your body, your breathing, and the rhythm of your movements can take your progress to the next level. This isn't just my ploy to get you off your phone in the gym, although you really are bothering everyone around you. Partly because your one-sided conversation is distracting us from our own focus, but mostly just because it's rude.

Mind-body connection makes the difference between just going through the motions, and actually making progress toward your goals. You've got to be paying attention, feeling each concentric and eccentric contraction of a movement to get the full benefit from a biceps curl for example. Moving deliberately and feeling the squeeze of your contraction will elicit more muscle fibers to get into the action.

Disassociation is moving in the wrong direction. We want to be more in tune with how our body feels. What changes are we seeing, rather feeling as we progress with our plan. Has our breathing become easier on the treadmill with the same 3 MPH and 5% incline? Are we taking steps pushing through our toe and squeezing our glutes with each stride? Or are we just lumbering along?

Listening to music or talking with your workout partner is one thing. Talking on the phone, texting and generally roaming aimlessly through your workout is another. When you're up for your set, get your head in the game. Making the mind-body connection will take your program to the next level. You will learn about your body, recognize progress in new ways, and appreciate the changes you are making each day. Tune in and get connected - I can't wait for you to feel what you've been missing!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Failed by Friday

by Kris Pitcher

If Friday nights at the gym are any indication, my theory about people's intentions is spot on. By Friday evening, it's like a ghost town. We have our own private date night because we're the only ones there! The challenge is we start the week off well intended on Monday, but somehow we get beaten down by the end of the week.

What leads to failure by Friday? It's all in how you see "failure". If you thought this whole thing was going to run really smoothly, well sorry to break it to you...but life happens. And your mother probably already told you this but I know your ears turn off when she starts talking. You are not perfect. Oh sorry, I hope that wasn't news to you?

Well, the good news is you don't have to be. Expecting yourself to be perfect is setting yourself up to fail. Your super star expectations are great, only you don't have a nanny, a house cleaner, a personal assistant, a butler and a chauffeur. You don't do you? If you do have a super star staff, you need to work me into your crew somehow...we'll talk.

My point here is don't throw away the baby with the bath water. If you've made mistakes this week don't just throw your hands up and skip it all until "Monday". There's nothing magical about Monday, and pretty soon...Monday never comes. That's the difference for people who succeed - they get right back to it after they miss-step.

You overate? Put the spork down. Get back on program right away. Don't skip meals, eat what you're supposed to eat at the next scheduled meal time. You feel bad about a choice you made? Learn from that. Make a different choice next time. Missed a workout? Schedules get busy, you need to adjust. Get up 15 minutes earlier, take the stairs, add a few minutes to your evening routine. Work it in.

Finding ways to be flexible turns "failures" into learning moments. Your perception of these opportunities will keep you from feeling failed by Friday.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

OMG! Am I Having An Emergency?

by Kris Pitcher

What was that? I think I felt something...It was like a flutter, no - a pang! Did you hear that? I put my hands on my hips and dug my fingertips into my midsection but couldn't feel anything. There it was again! It was a rumble deep in my gut. I definitely felt that! OMG! I AM HUNGRY!

"Honey, I'm hungry." I whined after my set on the flat bench. "When did you eat?" Jacques asked. "At 3:00" I said, knowing where he was going. "How many meals do you have left?" He went on questioning. "Two, dinner and then my before bed meal." I answered. "Good, you've got plenty of food & you're right on schedule." He said. And with such finality. Boy, is he good in a crisis.

Get ready for this...hunger is not an emergency. You may be feeling this new, unfamiliar feeling for the first time in a long time if you've made some changes in your eating plan. There are some things we can do to minimize your chances of feeling hungry, but the truth is it's not an emergency.

If you have increased the frequency of your meals then good for you, and I'm doing a happy dance. Your body is getting the message that it can count on you. Your consistency in fueling sends the a-OK signal letting your body know fuel is coming in and it doesn't need to store calories as fat. It also increases your metabolism...which can increase your feelings of hunger. Don't panic!

Including protein and vegetables with each mini meal along with healthy fats will keep you fueled for success. Remember fiber is your friend, eat those veggies! Drink more water. A lot of times our hunger is more of a thirst trigger. Keep yourself on schedule with your meals and your hydration to ward of starvation (couldn't help that one).

The reason this method works is it helps to keep your blood sugar level...well, level throughout the day. We don't like big swings. Our bodies like things nice and even. If you still have candy hanging around from the holidays you need to throw it out unless you're a squirrel. Simple carbs and dumps of sugar spike our insulin and put us on the spinning wheel of carb craving, aka. HUNGER. Just give it up - remember just 100 gms of carbs puts your immune system at risk for up to 5 hours. Jumping down from soap

Stay on schedule with your meals, eat your veggies, and drink your water to keep from feeling hungry throughout the day. Simple solutions to keep you on track to seeing your success without feeling hungry. We don't want any emergencies here!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Beauty of Accountability

by Kris Pitcher

Accountability is a beautiful thing. Is it enough to be accountable to ourselves though? It works for a while...for the honeymoon period when you're all excited about your new plan. But what about down the road when no body's really looking? What about on the mornings when you'd rather hit snooze, or on the days when you didn't quite get organized to pack your food?  Pretty soon you're convincing yourself "later" will come, which she never does.

To me, that's who!
When the sparks stop flying, your weight plateaus, and the shiny newness is gone...then what? You keep going that's what! I've said it enough times to sound like a broken record, "You only have to do this as long as you want it to work." The rest of your life fits that bill. So, figure on about that long. The truth is, your supporters care about what you're doing, but you're really only accountable to you.

When I'm wavering, eh hem, negotiating with the 5:00 AM alarm clock I think about you Blissers. I feel accountable to you. I also feel accountable to my goals. Why? Because they reflect my values. Simple. If I value something, I'm going to do what's needed to achieve it. That means getting myself up and on the treadmill.

If you're struggling with your accountability retrace your steps. What is your goal? What do you need to do in order to meet your goals? Be specific. Why is that important to you? Being able to verbalize why something is important to you (your value) will help you connect to your accountability. It's a beautiful thing!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


by Kris Pitcher

With the holidays behind us and nothing but new outlooks ahead, if we're not careful we'll find ourselves one of the 17 million Americans sidelined by a sports injury this year. An injury or an illness can knock the wind out of your good intentions and make you feel like a  big ol' quitter. You've barely gotten started, and remember you only have to do this as long as you want it to slow down and take a few precautions to reduce your risk of injury.

Always get checked out by your medical provider before beginning any exercise program. There are some common culprits to sports injuries. Most injuries come on gradually and are considered overuse injuries - they're not your acute broken bone type of thing. Worn out shoes, poor form, biomechanical imbalances, doing too much too soon, and over training most commonly lead to injury. Failure to wear appropriate gear is right up there too.

Having the right shoes for your sport is really important, and I'm not just saying this because I like shoes. Running shoes are designed for...running. They don't have good lateral stability and are therefor not a good group exercise shoe for example. Court shoes are great for basketball, but it helps if you actually tie the laces regardless of how dorky you look. A "cross trainer" is a decent multitasking shoe designed for many of your gym activities but I wouldn't walk/jog/run in it. You get the idea. Try lots of shoes on, each is going to feel different. Some have a generous toe box, but might have heel slip on your foot. Try them all on - get the one that fits your foot the best, not the cutest one.

Shoes don't last forever, they expire. Those retro Reebok's that you've had since '82, need to be replaced. The cushioning properties wear out, and you only get one pair of feet. A really good shoe store can look at your gait, how you walk, and make suggestions. They can also look at the wear pattern on the shoes you are replacing for clues about how you walk/run etc.

Discomfort is a signal you should pay attention to in your body. You don't ever want to push through pain. No pain no gain...that doesn't fly. It's a good idea to increase your activity gradually. As any weekend warrior can tell you, pushing too much too soon will lead to injury. And it's really embarrassing to ask for help getting on or off the toilet. Gradual.

Consider alternating training days with rest days, or easy days with heavy days. This works well if you are lifting every other day. If you are training for a triathlon and have a longer run day, schedule it when your body is rested or when you can take a little extra recovery time. Very important.

It makes sense to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your activity. Be sun smart even in the winter. And avoid exercising any time you're in pain or feel fatigued. These are times when mistakes happen and injuries too. When and if an injury does happen seek medical help. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation is the general guideline for care as you make your way to medical help.

Keep yourself from being sidelined by taking some precautionary steps. Things do happen, and we'll talk soon about managing your way through an injury. There are still ways you can stay on track and keep yourself connected to your goals as you recover. It can be frustrating as all get out. Knowing ahead that an injury is a remote possibility (hello, 17 million!) can help you maintain perspective. Now, I don't want to see you on the sidelines!

Monday, January 3, 2011

10 Reasons to Hire a Personal Trainer

by Kris Pitcher

I'm all for asking for help and hiring a Personal Trainer can be a smart move. When you work with a professional you look for certain qualities. You want to talk to the trainer, ask for references, find out about their certifications and working experience. You'll want to find out what they charge, where they train, will they come to your house, and do they carry liability insurance. Your trainer should be organized, professional and be compatible with you.

There are many reasons to work with a personal trainer and here are just a few.
  1. You want to see results - if you haven't been able to make progress on your own it's time to seek a professional who can assess what you're doing and put together a comprehensive plan. 
  2. You don't know where to start - there is a lot of information to know & it can be overwhelming. A personal trainer can get you started on a plan at an appropriate level for you.
  3. You're bored with your same old workout - if you need a bit of change a trainer can help you add variety to your program. Change is critical to progression, and progression is critical to you seeing results.
  4. You need to be challenged - your trainer dreams up new ways to challenge you and can't wait to incorporate new exercises into your workout. Your trainer is also going to push you to reach new levels. 
  5. You want to learn to exercise on your own - your trainer can teach you how to take the basics and make progressions in order to change your routine. Learning some basics about biomechanics and exercise science with the help of a trainer can take the self starter a long way.
  6. You need accountability and motivation - your appointment and personal investment will get you to the gym. Having someone to be accountable to is just what many of us need. 
  7. You have a specific injury, illness or condition - your personal trainer has the knowledge to create a safe and effective program for your specific needs. Whether you have lupus, MS, or chronic shoulder pain, your trainer has the know how to help you make progress for a healthier quality of life.
  8. You're training for a sport or event - if you have a goal in mind a trainer can put together a plan to get you to "race day". There are many components to consider for athletes and a trainer can help get the beginner or the advanced athlete to their best on competition day.
  9. You want supervision and support during your workout - exercising with proper form is important to making progress and staying safe. Having someone to assist during our workout is really important for many of us. Having that positive supportive person by our side can make all the difference.
  10. You want to workout at home - if you have equipment you haven't been using, don't know how to use, or you just want to work out at home - a trainer can bring the workout to you. They can provide the structure you need in the convenience of your home. This is a great solution for a lot of people. A trainer can even help you set up your home gym. 

 Whether you want to work with someone on an ongoing basis, or for just a few sessions there are many benefits to working with a personal trainer. If you're interested in online nutritional consultation/coaching/program design from anywhere on the planet, or personal training locally in Spokane USA - don't hesitate to contact Jacques Pitcher, at Team Pitcher.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thin Pizza Crust, Pizzeria Bianco

by Kris Pitcher

Each week we have a "cheat" meal. The idea is you can have whatever you want for the last meal of the day. Ours is usually planned for Saturday night, although we can adjust for special occasions. What's a cheat meal? We eat a strict diet of a specific nutrient profile based on our fitness goals. The cheat meal is designed to give your brain a break. You know you can make it through the week if you have a cheat meal to look forward to. Then, you can have what you want and get on with your plan for another week. It also acts to boost the metabolism. See, you think you're smart having cheat meals for every meal right? But, it doesn't work that way. 

It's a sacred meal. It's not to be wasted on garbage or on stuff that will disappoint after the first bite or so. Some things leave you feeling unsatisfied, and boy is that a sad cheat meal. That item goes directly to the "never eat again on cheat meal day" list. Through trial and error, I pretty much know what I want every week. I am a self diagnosed cheat meal snob. Make that Snob, with a capital "S". Part of my problem is I am a decent cook. I grew up eating good food. I know what's good. Sorry Olive Garden lovers. And please don't invite yourself, interrupt, or drop by during a cheat meal...or we probably just won't answer the door.

Our "go to" meal is pizza. Not take out, not take and bake, not even restaurant. I make pizza at home. Our favorite crust recipe is from Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix Arizona. The owner reportedly still makes every pizza, every night. If you're ever there, it's not to be missed - but you will have to wait. Oprah even sent Gail on a field trip and said it's her favorite.

It takes time, it takes love, care, and kneading - and it is worth every bite. What goes on top? A bit of mozzarella, some Parmesan cheese, always goat cheese, mushrooms, olives, last night bacon & caramelized onion...whatever you like. The great thing about pizza is you can put whatever you have on top. We very much enjoyed our weekly cheat meal (I think I enjoy it more than Jacques...I really enjoy it!).

Here's the recipe - roll up your sleeves and make something wonderful from scratch. You will enjoy it! Thin Pizza Crust - Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New You!

by Kris Pitcher

What do you see in 2011?
Happy New Year to everyone! Having readers around the world, some of you hit the mark before others. A new year is a great time to think about a new you. It's our opportunity to focus on what we'd like to do better, and on what we'd like to accomplish this year.

Seeing really is believing. And believing you can do something is the beginning of any progression or change. Visualization is a strong tool used by competitive athletes and business tycoons alike to see their success. This year as you think about your goals there are some simple things you can do to begin to see those realities in your path.

One way to actualize what you want is to literally put it in view. A likely place is the fridge. Clear all that stuff off of the refrigerator; the expired coupons, the artwork, the photos of summer vacation, etc. Take your top goals and write them out. Shoot crafties - make it pretty if you want. What's on my fridge? My eating plan, a contest photo, my NPC competitor card, and an expired Sally's Beauty Supply coupon...but I was going to use that. Dang, too late.

Another great place is in your bathroom. Make yourself a small reminder and post it on your mirror. I have a quote that says, "The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret." These are reminders I see every day. Remember, people who are good at reaching their goals practice each day. This quote reminds me it's easier to do what I'm supposed to do in order to meet my goals than to feel conflicted about my values and actions.

Put your goals in view in your calendar, appointment book, or fancy phone. There must be an app for that. Seeing what's important to you keeps it in view all the time. Your choices and actions take shape around them. It works.

Words work as reminders and pictures as well. If you have a goal to take a trip to France this year. Guess what goes up on your refrigerator, a picture of France. Visualizing yourself taking the next step in your business, doing well in an interview and landing a job, or taking the actions needed to meet your activity goals is a very strong tool.

It isn't just the big things either, seeing yourself pack your lunch, gym bag and water bottle for a successful day is important too. Visualizing yourself making your appointment with your trainer even though you're nervous, having a successful session, and feeling great is smart. Seeing yourself work through those barriers we talked about will give you the self-confidence to know you can do it.

This year, don't just say you're going to do it, see you're going to do it. Visualization works! Happy New You!