Monday, February 28, 2011

Stress Free For One Hour

by Kris Pitcher

Technology has made our lives easier, thrown open the doors to access of information, and connected us in unimaginable ways. It's also increased our productivity, and made us accessible 24/7. That can be stressful. I have a healthy living tip that might not be very popular. But as I think about my work seems as though email has taken over my entire day.

In an effort to decrease stress and increase the chances of doing something on the 'to do' list, how about creating an email free zone for one hour. Just one hour.

It's an addictive interruption. Email breaks our concentration and presents constant mini emergencies requiring our immediate attention. We've done it to ourselves...this instantly accessibility thing. And I realize it is expected.

So what if we spent one hour accomplishing our most critical tasks of the day. We'd feel a great sense of accomplishment and that energy would feed other aspects of our day. We might get more done and feel better about it.

I think I'm going to try it. I'm scared, no doubt. And I'd better put an 'out of office' message on my email for that one hour letting people know if they have an immediate need they should phone me...there's no telling what I might get done. Why, I feel less stressed already!     

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto

by Kris Pitcher

In Spokane USA it was -15 degrees overnight, and while we wait for our "early" spring to's a great day to make soup! This is a wonderful Italian soup, and the recipe comes from Eating Well. It's ingredients are variable...use what you have, exclude what you don't like. That's the beauty of soup!

Cozy up and enjoy your day with a nice hot bowl of soup! Recharge and get ready for a great week!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hedging Your Bets, A Point Counting Offense

by Kris Pitcher

I'd like for all the point counting readers to come forward and have a seat with me here on the couch. It's OK, we're just here to support you. Have a seat. If the rest of you would just take a comfortable seat around the room, we can get started. Stay close, we'll need your support. Don't look frightened, this is about your success.

How many points is that?
I don't want to name names, so let's just say you're on a program like..."slim seekers". You go to weekly weigh-in meetings, you track your food, you count your know the one? You get so many points per day, and each food is given an equivalent point value. Follow? Great.

Now, it's come to my attention - and I'm going to be honest with you, I always am - it's come to my attention you have been trying to work the system. This might be difficult for you to hear, and we are here to support you, I'm going to share some things with you to help you move toward your goal.

I understand your "coach" told you at your meeting that if you're struggling with having enough points to get through the day, you can begin counting at 5:00 PM. That way, you can have the bulk of your points in the evening and then go to bed for 8 hours (when you won't need any points anyway) then scrimp the next day. You'd get a fresh new balance at 5:00 PM when you could start all over again.


That is the worst advice I can imagine giving anyone. Really? Start at 5:00 PM? Sure, let's have a 4 point glass of wine, with some cheese and crackers before dinner, then we'd have plenty of room for three or four 1 point desserts! The next day (remember we've got until 5:00 PM when the points turn over) we can just skip breakfast, have a 1 point snack, then a 1 point soup for lunch...then nothing until 5:00 PM.

Now I just want to slit my own throat. What are the slim seekers teaching people? The message is translated as this: "Hedge your bets. Have what you want at night, just before you go to bed when your body isn't going to use the calories. In fact, drink some alcohol so your body stops metabolizing the fuel all together and then stores it as fat. You'll be fine the next day, just don't eat...shut down your metabolism and tell your body you're going to starve it."

My observation of you point counters is this. No, hear me out and then I'm going to give you some advice about a better way to use your points. My observation is you try to find as many fake food items equal to 1 point as you possibly can. You eat these 1 point items during the day - it's like a contest to see who can last on 1 pointers - then you're starving at night. Well, no wonder - you've eaten snacks of nothing all day.

A better plan? Stop hedging your bets. Eat a well balanced breakfast of lean protein, whole grains and a little healthy fat. A mid-morning snack of something like a cheese stick or a yogurt with a piece of fruit and an ounce of almonds. Lunch, maybe a "sandwich thin" turkey sandwich and some veggies to crunch on. Your afternoon snack is important to getting you over the hump so try 3 ounces of lunch meat, or 1/2 cup of cottage cheese. Then on to dinner, a nice salad with some lean protein. You're not spending all your points on a bunch of fake-food items with zero nutritional value.

You are fueling up with foods that will feed your brain, your body and your muscles while allowing your body to burn fat. You're keeping your metabolism burning all day, and you're maintaining an even blood sugar level - no ups and downs.

Eating by counting points is a good plan, but not if you're trying to cheat the system. Remember that the basics work, there is no quick fix, and you can't hedge your bets. It's offensive! Thank you for having this sit down with me, after all we're all here for your success.   

*Please note this is not representative of any company or program and is not meant to specifically address any program or group. It's the result of an unfortunate piece of advice from a coach given during a meeting as reported by one individual.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rock Hard Abs!

by Kris Pitcher

Knock knock. Who's there? Abs. Who's abs? Mine, that's who! Pretty amazing, but my abs are starting to make a peek of an appearance. Remember waaaay back when we talked about progress as motivation. Well, case in point. It. Works.

No, these are not mine!
Getting the six pack abs, the flat stomach that you want takes a comprehensive plan. It also requires some time and effort. But oh the rewards are sweet! Well, I can tell they're gonna be sweet. Commitment to your cardio program, and to eating clean are numero uno. There's no getting around that. Abs and a**es,..are made in the kitchen. That's no lie.

In addition to doing those things right, we need to have a solid weight training program, and an abdominal training plan. Remember that abdominal exercises strengthen your muscles. They also improve your posture and strengthen your core stability.

Now, what do they do to the fat on top of the muscles? Nothing. I repeat, nothing. Keep in mind that muscle tissue and fat tissue are different tissue and one never becomes the other. Each requires different "treatment" - so let's not forget: the goal of these exercises is to strengthen the muscles (not lose fat), got it?

Always consult your health care provider before beginning any exercise program, and consult a professional to ensure you are executing any exercise with proper form and technique. We're going to try three exercises to strengthen the abdominals. Ready, set, go!

The first is the basic crunch. Done correctly this is a great exercise and a good place to start. Lying supine on the floor, face up, with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent - place your fingertips around your ears to support your head - elbows out wide. Keeping your chin off your chest and your eyes on the ceiling, contract your abdominals bringing your shoulders off the floor. Return to starting position. You shouldn't feel any tension in your neck or back.

Next is the swiss ball exchange. Lying supine on the floor, take a swiss ball and place it between your feet, legs extended straight, heels on the floor. With your palms facing one another extend your arms out in front of you while you lift your legs to meet your hands. Transfer the ball from your feet to your hands and extend your hands over head gently placing the ball on the floor over your head, lift your torso off the floor transferring the ball back to your feet, repeat. This is a great one because it requires additional focus, while bringing in stabilizing muscles such as the adductors (inner thighs).

Finally, one of my favorites...the plank. This is a great stabilizing exercise. Begin in a prone position, face down on the floor. With your hands at your sides press up to your elbows keeping your palms to the floor, or making a fist keeping wrists parallel to the floor. At the same time, tuck your toes and come up on your toes. You are making a plank with your body. Your hips are in alignment, and your focus is on pulling your belly button toward your spine. This is a timed exercise, for 30 or 60 seconds, maintaining proper form and breathing. This image is a great variation showing knees to the floor. This is a more basic move, if it bothers your knees - don't use it.

Abdominal work will strengthen your muscles, keep in mind - that's the goal. I'm going to keep eating my healthy clean diet and getting my cardio in on schedule. By spring...I'll have my rock hard, six pack back! How about you?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Great Grain!

by Kris Pitcher

You know I am not friends with carbs...I am after all "carb sensitive" (stick-out-tongue face). But I certainly don't expect the rest of the world to give up grains. If you're in a rut over the same old brown rice here's something you might like to try.

Polenta is a great grain made from corn. It's either going to be made from white or yellow corn, and ground coarse or fine. It's gluten free - because it's made from CORN. It's a traditional Italian staple in certain regions and is a really versatile grain. It has a consistency like porridge when it's hot, and as it cools it can be cut into cubes or name it. It is rich in vitamins A & C, contains fiber and some iron.

Simple Polenta:
3 C water
1 C polenta

Bring water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Pour polenta in steadily, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until polenta is thickened. It should come away from the pan, and will support the weight of your spoon. It can take from 20-50 minutes. Pour onto a wooden cutting board and let it stand for a few minutes. Makes four servings.

Nutrition per 1/2 C: 102 calories/2 grams protein/22 grams carbs/1/2 gram of fat

You can dress it up for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Add your favorite things ranging from fresh herbs and spices, to well...cheese and bacon. Just remember the more yummy stuff you add, the more you up the nutritional value.

There's no reason to feel stuck in a rut over your eating. Trying new things is an adventurous way to keep things fresh. Just do the math to make your exchanges...oh and don't make polenta the day after your arm and shoulder workout. Just a tip!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

5 Minutes to More Fat Loss!

by Kris Pitcher

That's right! Five minutes to MORE fat loss! Adding just 5 minutes to your current cardio workout will kick your program up a notch, and your fat loss up too. We don't want to add a lot of time right off the bat. Too much change too quickly - well that's a recipe for disaster.

A gradual increase will set you up for success. Here's how to do it. Adding 5 minutes every 2nd workout until you reach 45 minutes while keeping your speed and intensity the same. For instance, I'm doing 30 minutes 5 days each week. On Monday I do my 35 minutes. Tuesday I do 30. Wednesday I do 35...Thursday I do 30, and Friday I do 35. Monday rolls around and I do 35 each day of the week. Gradual increase. The next week, I add 5 more, and so on.

By adding 5 minutes, if I weight 140 pounds I am burning an additional 22 calories (assuming I'm walking 3.5 MPH). In a week that's an extra 550 calories. I'm pumping up the fat loss! Different activities have different calorie burn qualities and I looked up a few examples:

stationary rowing or cycling = 39
circuit training = 45
step aerobics = 56
rollerblading = 39
jump roping = 56
downhill skiing = 34

Activities of daily living count too. Just a few more minutes of an activity can add up - and I'll be honest, these make me laugh:

house cleaning = 20
chopping wood = 34 (because I'm chopping wood all the time)
marital e hem "relations" = 8 (everyone knows you need more than 5 minutes)
shoveling snow = 34
gardening = 25

Adding just 5 more minutes to your routine won't break the time bank. It might break the fat plateau though. Kick things up a notch and commit yourself to more fat loss. It's just 5 minutes!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tone Your Triceps!

by Kris Pitcher

It's time to get sleek upper arms! Now you know I'm going to tell you to first and foremost do your cardio and eat your clean healthy diet. That goes without saying. Those things will help you burn the fat flapping around on top of your beautiful muscles underneath.

Next, it's toning time! Here are three exercises to get you going. As always, consult your health care professional before beginning any exercise program. Work with a professional to answer any questions you have and to ensure proper exercise form.

Remember you want to exercise with controlled movements, breathing normally (ideally inhaling on the concentric, and exhaling on the eccentric contractions). It doesn't take much weight when you are controlling and squeezing through each motion.   

  • Cable Triceps Press Down: standing in front of the cable station, feet shoulder width apart, abdominals contracted, elbows in toward your torso, palms press down toward your thighs as you squeeze through your triceps. Slowly return to starting position, arms at 90 degrees - repeat for 12-15 repetitions. 
  • Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension: Sitting on a bench, feet flat on the floor, take the dumbbell in your right hand, supporting your right elbow with your left hand, raise the dumbbell over head. Your right elbow should be next to your right ear as you extend your arm over head. Return to starting position and repeat for 12-15 repetitions. 
  • Dumbbell Triceps Kickback: Visit Ace Fitness for a great description of the kickback.  Dumbbell Triceps Kickback - Arms - Get Fit Exercise Library - American Council on Exercise
Working the triceps with a variety of exercises will give your arms the shape they need to make their debut this spring! If you're adding or changing up a current routine, add the same number of sets you are already doing. If you aren't currently doing triceps work, try 1 set of each exercise. I don't want you cursing me when you're trying to dry your hair tomorrow.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Protein Packed Mediterranean Tuna Salad

by Kris Pitcher

Skip the wrap, serve on a bed of lettuce!
 Canned tuna is a great staple to have in the pantry. But mixing it up with mayonnaise is kids play, a rookie mistake. You need a protein packed...packed lunch. Here is a grown up take on tuna salad.

Mediterranean Tuna Salad:
2 cans (6 oz) chunk light tuna in water, well drained
1/4 C finely diced red onion
1/4 C chopped calamata olives
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
3 T olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 T fresh lemon juice
fresh ground pepper to taste

Flake the tuna into a bowl, add onion, olives, parsley and lemon zest. Whisk olive oil and lemon juice, add pepper. Combine all ingredients and toss. Divide salad in four equal portions. Serve with fresh tomato slices, or a crisp green salad. Enjoy this heart healthy, grown up tuna salad!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

You Are NOT My Friends!

by Kris Pitcher

There's this group of girls, women I guess, who have been trying to be friends with me for a long time. They're always smiling at me, and waving. It makes me a little uncomfortable really. And then sometimes when I return the wave with a look like, "Oh, hi!" they act like they didn't see me. It makes me feel like they're insincere.

So, I decide they're not really for me. Not the crowd I want to be friends with. But there they every restaurant, behind every menu. Always there. They seem to be at every social event I attend, it's like we're always in the same circles.

You know the type who are always really stylish, well dressed, I can't seem to help but get drawn in. I mean...look at them. Then I long to be friends with them. I go back and forth...telling myself I'm better off on my own, and that I don't need them.

I tell myself they're empty inside. They don't have anything to offer me. They look pretty on the outside, but they don't have anything of value. When I give in to them, I'm left feeling used. After I've spent time with them, I'm shaky and head achy...I just don't feel good. Who needs friends like that?

I'd rather be a loner than hang out with you girls. You can keep your bread, your crackers, your scones, and your chips. I don't need your noodles, your tortillas, your rice or your cereal. Your flour has nothing for me, you're full of sugar and you're only pretty on the outside. You''re just CARBS!

I don't want to be friends with you carbs anyway. You're a bunch of mean girls carbs making the rest of us miserable! Keep to yourselves - you can't stalk me anymore! You are not my friends! 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Note To Self

by Kris Pitcher

Dear Self,

I know I don't always let you know how I feel but I'm really proud of you. What you're doing is really hard. And I know it's hard when you feel like everyone and everything around you is fighting what you are trying to do. But you've been so strong. You've stuck to your convictions. That takes a lot of willpower and inner focus.

You feel like you're different when you tell your friends you'd rather not join them out to eat. People don't understand when you need to eat your meals on a "schedule". They don't see why you can't have just one drink. You hear yourself explaining why and it seems to be falling on deaf ears. I know it gets frustrating.

It's hard to keep perspective when you see the numbers. You know things are changing but you have a number stuck in your head. People are complimenting you - but you sometimes aren't sure if you can believe what you hear. I know that feels confusing, like you can't trust yourself.

I know you feel tired, and on the verge of not being able to recover. Your workouts are hard, you've made gains, and you've gotten leaner. It's hard work to balance all of that with everything else you do. I know you don't always feel appreciated for all that you manage.

Self, if you saw in the mirror what others see in would see a strong person, a beautiful person, and a person to look up to. You would see someone to be proud of, to trust in and to have faith in. You would see someone smart, capable and in control. You would see someone who projects energy, confidence and pride. So, if I haven't said it enough lately - I'm really proud of who you are and I love you!


Friday, February 18, 2011

Marketing, the Next Wave of Opportunity

by Kris Pitcher

Many on the resolution road have long since fallen off the wagon. I mean, it's late February and we've got spring in our sights. Lower my cholesterol? Who's got time to wait for that to happen! Besides, I didn't see anything happening anyway, so what's the point in carrying on?

Well, I tell you what I've noticed - the marketing has slowly fallen off the wagon too. First came the barrage of gym advertisements. All those "regular" looking people happily gym-ing it up. They lured us in with fancy music, and images of ladies in step classes, and all twisted around on their yoga mats. Men running on treadmills...smiling on weight machines. Oh yeah baby! I am joining today!

January sales numbers were kind of slow in the industry. Maybe people are still recovering from the economic down turn, still holding their money a little closer. Or maybe people thought they could do it on their own...maybe they still have a Billy Blanks Tae Bo DVD they were planning to do in the living room. At any rate...none of that really worked out.

Then came the onslaught of weight loss program commercials. You have your Jenny Craig, your Weight Watchers and the like. We saw those at prime time for several weeks. As the resolution excitement wore off so too did any inclination to actually eat right. What's the use? Now, those commercials have slowly gone the way of the bullet blender at 3:00 AM.

Now, in late February I seem to see a lot of commercials for prescriptions that might be right for me. Pills to reduce my blood pressure, to deal with my diabetes, my anxiety...and my ED. Everyone but the pharmaceutical companies have given up on our good intentions.

It's only February! The MIDDLE of February. And we are most certainly still in this game. We don't need marketing executives to push us to do what we know we need to in order to live a healthy quality of life. They can lay low until the next wave of opportunity comes along...but rest assured - we won't!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lose a Pound a Day - Without Dieting!

by Kris Pitcher

You've no doubt seen the claims. Lose a pound a day without dieting! False hope, quick cures and promises of cure-alls. Desperate people will try desperate measures and spare no cost. Miracle weight loss! Really? A miracle?

I can believe how it happens. We get to our wits ends...I struggle with my skin. Blemishes pop up and poke out at the worst times. I've tried antibiotics, bathroom drawer is like a wasteland of prescription tubes. Salicylic acid, heat treatments, and exfoliating scrubs. Shoot, I'd rub dog do on my face if you told me it would cure my acne.

"Scientific Breakthrough!", "Revolutionary Innovation!", "Exclusive Product!", "Secret Ingredients!", "Ancient Remedy!" All a bunch of red flags.

So, how do you know if you're being shim shammed? Taken for a scam? You see the 'before' and 'after' photos in the magazines surrounded by claims selling you the latest greatest product that is going to solve your weight problem, forever. Drink this tea, take this pill, do this cleanse...

With miracle cures around every corner here are a few questions to ask yourself before a fool you part with your money.

  • Does it come with a money back guarantee based on unrealistic, yet hard to prove, promises?
  • Does the claim go against the understanding of modern science and medicine?
  • Does it claim to cure a large number of medical conditions that are unrelated?
  • Does the product's claims have no scientific proof and information about the product is only available through their website?
  • Is the marketing sales copy over-reliant on phrases like 'fast relief', 'amazing results', 'natural', and contain a lot of unsubstantiated customer testimonials?
These kinds of questions can and should raise some red flags. Yes, I am a skeptic. My skepticism comes from my knowledge and understanding of exercise science, human physiology and anatomy. Miracle products typically are not tested, evaluated, or approved for quality or effectiveness by any appropriate or qualified board certified body.

My skin is getting better. And not because I've been rubbing dog do on it. I did some research which clued me in to the fact that too much exfoliation was making me a big mess. But there was a point where I would have done almost anything...almost.

Miracle cures produce billions of dollars in revenue to less than ethical people. Victims are left with their problems, empty promises and empty pockets. It's very discouraging for me to see people waste their money on a quick fix that won't work.

Keep doing the right things as you work to reach your health and fitness goals. It's hard work and it takes time. It's what we do each day over our lifetime that determines our overall health over time. There is no Easter Bunny (sorry), and there is no miracle weight loss cure. Oh, and don't put dog do on your acne.   

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's Time!

by Kris Pitcher

Lasting change takes continued change. Continuing to do the same things forever won't continue to get us the same results - because we adapt. We get comfortable in what we're doing and change is hard. Besides, we've changed a lot already...right?!

Decide to decide!
We can go along and get frustrated when we stop making progress...and quit. This is what most people do. We're not most people. OR we can recognize when progress takes a turn on us and we need to make some changes. This is an important and critical skill.

I've always called this deciding to decide. We don't need to know or have all the answers. We just have to decide to make a decision. You can almost feel the weight being lifted off your shoulders.

Time spent on the what if-s, the should do-s, and the I can't-s is time wasted. Deciding to decide puts you in control of your destiny. It lets you guide what comes next for you.

Once you know you're going to make a decision you've got a little work to do, maybe some research. Considering the pros and cons, what are the consequences of each and so on. Then, you just decide and act. We don't need to over think the process. It's simple.

Making decisions is an ongoing process with every aspect of our lives. Being able to recognize when it's time will keep you moving forward. Don't just sit there, it's time!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Gift of Presence

by Kris Pitcher

Stress can take its toll in body and in spirit. While it is a normal part of our lives, our response to it over time can wear us down. Managing our stress is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and goes hand in hand with weight management. Stress reduction techniques help to deepen our breathing, reduce stress hormone levels in our body, slow our heart rate and blood pressure, and relax our muscles.

You don't have to be a yogi...
Many techniques have been widely studied and show proven benefits. You might be familiar with: deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, visualization, yoga and tai chi. 

When considering a technique, keep in mind no one is better than another. The right one for you is the one you're drawn to! It takes time and practice to incorporate relaxation into our lifestyle. Set aside some time just for your practice. Meditation is just one technique you might like to try.

Meditation that cultivates mindfulness is particularly effective at reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions. Mindfulness is the quality of being fully engaged in the present moment, without analyzing or otherwise “over-thinking” the experience. Rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, mindfulness meditation switches the focus to what’s happening right now.
For stress relief, try the following mindfulness meditation techniques:
  • Body scan – Body scanning cultivates mindfulness by focusing your attention on various parts of your body. Like progressive muscle relaxation, you start with your feet and work your way up. However, instead of tensing and relaxing your muscles, you simply focus on the way each part of your body feels without labeling the sensations as either “good” or “bad”.
  • Walking meditation - You don’t have to be seated or still to meditate. In walking meditation, mindfulness involves being focused on the physicality of each step — the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your breath while moving, and feeling the wind against your face.
  • Mindful eating – If you reach for food when you’re under stress or gulp your meals down in a rush, try eating mindfully. Sit down at the table and focus your full attention on the meal (no TV, newspapers, or eating on the run). Eat slowly, taking the time to fully enjoy and concentrate on each bite.
Mindfulness meditation is not equal to zoning out. It takes effort to maintain your concentration and to bring it back to the present moment when your mind wanders or you start to drift off. But with regular practice, mindfulness meditation actually changes the brain – strengthening the areas associated with joy and relaxation, and weakening those involved in negativity and stress. 

Managing our stress and internal dialogue is important for success. It takes practice and work, but you're worth it. Being present for yourself in an incredible gift!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Light Hearted

by Kris Pitcher

Mostly Unknown, a few light hearted quotes for Valentine's Day. May your heart be full of love and gratitude! I especially like the last one, and I hope it's the gift you'll give yourself...

Rich, fatty foods are like destiny: they too, shape our ends.

The cardiologist's diet: If it tastes good, spit it out.

A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.

Stressed spelled backwards is desserts. Coincidence?

Life itself is the proper binge. - Julia Child

Bigger snacks mean bigger slacks.

Food has replaced sex in my life; now, I can't even get into my own pants.

I think I just ate my willpower.

Dieting is not a piece of cake.

I'm in shape. Round is a shape...isn't it?

You wouldn't worry so much about what other people thought if you realized how seldom they do. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. - Will Rogers

Choice is a gift given to everyone. It is a powerful gift that can change your life.  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Things

by Kris Pitcher

The sun was peeking through enough to warrant sunglasses as I pushed open the doors to the crisp air. I took the walkway winding right past my boss' window without a care. Across the street to the trail along the river, I was on a mission. This was a strange calling. Very unlike me...

I was surprised to see so many people on the trail. Not having stepped foot on it myself since November I had assumed it must be empty. But low and behold, even a bare foot runner! And you know how I feel about those guys. I hurried along feeling a little nervous.

You see, I was going macy's. Their one day sale advertisements combined with this wild hair of an idea I was having = mission bound. Those of you who remember the late 80's might recall we've had our stint with leggings. Oh, I had them in every color and pattern. And for those of you who are too young to have lived the leggings of the 80's, fashion does repeat itself. Trust me.

As you can imagine, my decisions are calculated. I'm not one for impulse. I had been considering the pros and cons of leggings for a week or so. Are leggings age appropriate? Should I wear them? Does my butt look fat? When I wore them the first time around...let's just say they grew with my body. I don't have good feelings about that. My legging memories are fragile.

These insecurities ran through my head as I walked along the river. Juxtaposed were thoughts that I should freshen my wardrobe. I should at least see what people are buying...this decade. If you know me at all you know I'm a thrift store junkie, and I hate to pay more than $10 for anything (your welcome honey).

I stood looking at the store directory for a moment, disoriented. Petites, third floor. Deep breath, here we go.'s one item. Ooo, suits are two for $99 - distracted already I felt a little frazzled. Once I made it to the right section I wove myself through the racks of clothes. I was getting hot. Ladies were shopping with their husbands, happy as clams. The walls were closing in on me.

The leggings were against the wall. Various styles, some had buttons on the bottoms, zippers, lace...where was Cindy Lauper? $14.95 and I didn't like any of them. Oooo, a cute sweater to wear over the leggings. Pink, aqua, charcoal, I picked the black one in medium. I walked around with it for a while and found the clearance rack. I picked out a super cute dress in a size 10 to try. Into the fitting room I went.

The dress didn't begin to go over my shoulders and back. No go. I should know better than to try things on that aren't stretchy. Medium, also not me. OK. This is hard and I have to pee. Still no leggings. I buy the sweater in a large. I'm a large. Thank you lat pulldowns for doing what I wanted.

I wandered around a little bit more wondering how anyone knows what to buy, what goes with what, and how anyone ever finds anything that fits. I had wound my way around so much I thought I'd need a GPS to find my way out. Once I got outside I was relieved as I marched back to work along the trail with my purchase.

A creature of habit - I hit the mega-lo-mart walked right up to the Danskin display and breathed a sigh of relief. Leggings! Three lengths, two colors, 5 sizes, $8. I found my medium leggings and I was out of there. And, done.

Friday, I wore my super cute sweater with my leggings and soaked in the compliments. Sometimes we have to try things, new things, things that push our comfort zone. We have to be willing to be uncomfortable, disoriented, and a little bit confused. We have to branch out, wonder if something is going to work for us, and at least try. When we give it a good try, it usually works out - and it's worth it!  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

All About Fiber Type

by Kris Pitcher

If you took about 40 pencils and held them in a bundle between your hands, then placed a few rubber bands around them to keep the bundle together...that would be a crude example of what a muscle looks like. That bundle we would call a muscle belly. It's made up of fibers, or in this case, pencils. Are you with me?

There are different types of fibers in that bundle. And that my friends is our science geek topic for today - muscle fiber type! There are two main types of fibers.

Slow twitch, or type I, fibers and fast twitch, or type II fibers. We'll start with slow twitch. Slow twitch fibers are very efficient at using oxygen to create energy and they can contract for a long time. They fire slowly and don't tire out easily. Think about your marathon runner, and your Lance Armstrong's of the world. These fibers are all about endurance.

Fast twitch, or type II, fibers use anaerobic (without oxygen) energy to metabolize fuel. They generate short bursts of strength or speed, but these guys tire out quickly. These are the fibers that help us lift heavy and grow big (er).

It gets a little more exciting though. Fast twitch has a further breakdown into fast twitch type IIa, and type IIb. The IIa fibers can use both anaerobic and aerobic metabolism for energy equally - these guys are like chameleons. The IIb fibers use anaerobic metabolism to create energy, they produce quick bursts of power, fire rapidly and tire out quickly. These guys have the highest rate of contraction of all the fiber types. They're like the power kings/queens.

The exciting thing about the subgroup of fast twitch fibers...this is why we train! We genetically have a predetermined number of each type of fiber, slow and fast twitch. And for the average Joe and Jane it's about 50/50. An elite athlete...more like 80% leaning one or the other. Jay Cutler the current reigning Mr. Olympia - fast twitch. Lance Armstrong - slow twitch.

Our propensity for things gives us an indication which way we lean. Our fiber type influences what we're good at. I'm good at lifting weights. I love to train my fast twitch fibers, and you can bet I'm trying to recruit every one of those IIa & IIb fibers to get with the program.

But, if I were training for a triathlon for instance (hey, stop laughing!) I would be trying to recruit my fast twitch type IIa fibers to help me with my endurance sports of swimming, biking, and running. Those chameleon fibers can train either way. Get it? I am standing up typing - I AM THAT EXCITED!!!

This is why we train with purpose, with specificity for our sport, our goals. It's all about fiber type! Whew, how can you not be turned on a little by science? So, get excited about your workouts, you've got fibers to train!

Friday, February 11, 2011

You Had Me At Chocolate

by Kris Pitcher

For those of you creating romance by chocolate this weekend, here is an almost flourless chocolate desert. It comes from Eating Well, where you could pull together an entire menu of decadence. But this one had me at chocolate!

One of the beauties of preparing meals at home is you know what you're getting. Making something from scratch gives you the piece of mind of knowing exactly what you're putting into your mouth! You don't have to guess as a snobby cheat meal eater, I am often disappointed eating out at restaurants. I'm not certain if this is on my Valentine's Day menu, but oh my does it look good! Happy romance!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Poise and Grace

by Kris Pitcher

Aging with poise and grace takes both continued learning about who you are and who you are not. For me the later becomes more apparent each year. Maybe the former makes the later more clear. Either way, with each passing year comfort and clarity settle in.

For instance, I will never have the kind of hair my husband can run his fingers through. I mean - he can. There just won't be a good outcome. He'll likely get stuck, and I'll look like one of those cupie dolls with the hair standing out on end like I'd been electrified. It won't be makes me tense just thinking about it. But I've come to terms.

I will never have radiant, beautiful skin. I have blemishes, spider veins, and you can see right through my skin - I do however have a nice looking vascular system. I also will never tan. The upside to that is I've been aware of my sensitivity to sun for so long that I've worn sunscreen since I was 15. That's why I look, eh hem...younger.

These and other truths come with clarity of knowing with certainty who I am. I can celebrate the lighter hairs banding together in just the right place in the sweep of my bangs. Maybe they'll turn silver one day. I can celebrate being comfortable in my skin. I couldn't have said that in my 20's or 30's.

Strong, confident, creative, bold...opinionated. These are things I know unapologetically. As I look to the year ahead I am excited by what I might accomplish, by where life might take me, and by what I might learn about myself as I age one more year with poise and grace. Happy Birthday to Me!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chocolate Covered Gummy Things

by Kris Pitcher

We are mere days away from the most romantic of holidays, Valentine's Day. Walking through the isles of the stores you'd think a UFO touched down and let out a load of plush what-nots in various hues of pink to red. Flanked by boxes and boxes of chocolates and chocolate covered gummy's endless. Many will be celebrating this day devoted to love this weekend, so I thought we better plan ahead.

Consumerism grips you as you aimlessly look for the perfect gift. Does your loved one need a two foot red plush heart with outstretched hands that says, "I Love You"? Or boxer shorts with lips on them? This is one of those times I am relieved to be in a "no gift exchange" agreement. I realize it's not customary, but it works for us.

But how will you celebrate and spend time together that isn't focused around the candy and the overpriced just OK dinner out? Are there gifts you can give which aren't centered around the giant box of candy? It's something to at least consider. Thinking ahead will help you create a plan you can stick to...while sticking to your plan.

Whether you create a memorable evening at home and prepare a delicious dinner, or cozy up for an afternoon movie uninterrupted, plan some time together. Take a walk, go skiing, or have a picnic on the living room floor in front of the fire. Unplug, quit texting and tune in. Consider celebrating romance in new ways...leave those chocolate covered gummy things for someone else. With love, you don't need all that.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Exercising When You're Sick

by Kris Pitcher

It's going around the office, the kids have brought it's the crud! That's right, the sniffling, sneezing, the stuffy head, the coughing and all the associated yuck that goes along with it. And heaven forbid the "man cold" hits your household, or you are in for it! The man cold is SO bad that researchers took a look to see if men get some kind of uber symptoms. But alas, they're just...weakend in their time of need (those are my words).

Let's not get off track here. The question? Should you work out if you're sick? The answer is - it depends. Many of us feel like we don't want to miss a work out. We're on a roll. If we get off schedule it's hard to make up, right? You're not alone, lots of people feel that way. Others feel like the immune system is already compromised and we should just lay off. The experts don't always agree either.

There are some common sense things you can rely on to help you make your decision. If you have a fever (anything over 101), you don't work out. Further elevation of your body temperature is not smart. You're on the bench. Period. If you have a head cold and can manage your symptoms you can probably exercise. You might want to take it a little easy, but you can make it to the gym.

Anything below the neck, please stay home. Chest cold, coughing, sore throat etc. You're more likely to decrease your body's chance to fight off the yuck. Plus, we'd rather you didn't phlem on us and all the stuff we're going to touch at the gym. Thanks anyway.

Wash your hands with soap and water, don't touch your face and always cover your coughs and sneezes. These are simple things you can do to protect yourself and those around you during the cold and flu season. Make some smart decisions about whether to exercise or not if you're sick. Sometimes it's better to take a rest day and let yourself get better. Your work outs will be there when you're feeling better!

Monday, February 7, 2011

All The Right Stuff

by Kris Pitcher

We have a track record of being honest with one another. So, I'm not going to sugar coat this...I'm a little frustrated. This isn't directed at anyone, and it is likely an over generalization. Lately, I've heard an echo of the same thing over and over relating to people's weight.

I hear people say, "I don't know, I'm doing all the right things and nothing seems to be working." When I hear something several times, I feel like the universe is sending me a sign. A sign to dish some tough love. So, pull your chair up to the table for a helping...because I just can't keep this to myself.

If you feel like you are doing all the right things, you need someone with an objective and trained eye to take a look. Translation. Ask. For. Help. Asking for help is hard. We want to do it on our own. We think we know what to do. Well? How's that workin for ya?

Nine times out of ten...I'd place a bet in Vegas you're not doing all the right things. Not exactly. Not all the time. There is always room to improve and refine. And to comply. Do you know what macro nutrient profile might work for you? Do you know the effects alcohol (even just a little bit) has on your metabolism? How much sugar are you consuming? How about nutrient timing and meal frequency? Hmmm...all the right things? Still sure?

When all the right things are happening and still no budge in the pudge...time to see your doctor. You may have a thyroid problem, a hormonal imbalance, a vitamin deficiency. You may be too stressed causing cortisol to pack away the fat. You may not be getting enough sleep. You may need to check your lifestyle. See? All the right things, really? Are you sure?

The thing is, there are many components to creating a lifestyle that works to manage our weight, balance our lives, our work, and our families. Doing all the right things all the time is difficult. Getting help to make sure you truly are is a smart thing.

Deep breath. So, when people make their claim, "...all the right things and it's still not working." I'll just take that as my cue to ask them more about what they're doing and see if I can help them put together, all the right stuff.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Groceries, On a Mission!

by Kris Pitcher

Last week as I was barrelling my cart through WINCO, I realized - I'm different. I mean, I have obviously noticed the differences in the contents of my cart versus other's at the checkout. You can't miss that. But a few things struck me as I slalomed through the browsing shoppers. I shop with a mission.

Grocery shopping can be a daunting task. Like everything else, you need to be organized about the way you do it. Even though I purchase the same things every week, I always have a list. The list ensures nothing gets left behind, or if there's an item I don't usually need - I don't rely on my memory. That would never work.

In order to make a list you need to know what you'll need for the week. In our household...this involves math. Six meals a day, 6oz.of meat each meal blah blah. Then there's mine, five meat meals, 4oz. do the math blah blah. This many egg whites per day for 6 days. How many pounds is one package of chicken? What's the cooked weight in ounces blah blah...You get the idea. And you thought you'd never need to use math?...

Now that you know what you'll need for the week, you make a list. My list is in the order of the layout of the store. As I work my way through, I get what I need, and check it off the list. Easy. I don't have to concern myself with the endless shelves of items, because they are not on my list.

Crowded isles? Park at the end, dash down to get what you need and get out of there. Don't frustratedly maneuver your cart down the isle waiting for people to get out of your way. You know the item you're after, get in and get out.

I noticed a lot of on the spot decision making happening in the store. People were confused, tired,'ve already made your decisions. They're listed on your list. Easy. They're doing this because they don't have a plan, you have a plan.

So, you've thought ahead about what you need for the week, and you've made a list in the order of the layout of the store. The final steps for success are things you already know. Don't go in there hungry. Disaster. Know the patterns of your area and its shoppers. I know Friday nights are a little weird, but Saturday late morning it's empty.

You don't have time to waste and you can be an efficient shopper. Now, put your armor on and get ready to shop with a mission!  

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Boneless Buffalo Wings

by Kris Pitcher

Ready or not, it's coming! The giant bowl of gooey dip, chips made out of I don't know what. The world's worst snack, the Frito. Plates of drippy nachos and twelve layered bean dips (although if I was hosting I would not serve that...). All of these and more will be layed out and splayed out for all day noshing in celebration of, you guessed it - football.

Specialty drinks will accompany the mile high sub sandwiches. Various sudsy, carbonated beverages laden with metabolism stopping properties. If this hasn't gotten you all psyched up for the big game tomorrow, I've got something that will. A decent appetizer to take to the party!

This one comes from Eating Well, and they've got others for you to peruse as well. This is a good opportunity for you to practice good food management, think ahead and make a plan. Me, well I'd just bring my cooler of meals...hey, there's an idea!

Some good rules to follow: eat your regular meals you're supposed to eat; no drinking alcohol (sorry, but it likely just doesn't fit the plan); take beverages you can drink; portion control your snacks; remember you're there to watch the game, not pack away 3500 calories in 3 hours.

Knowing there will be one thing on the buffet table you can actually eat, will be comforting. Here's a recipe you can try and your hostess will be happy you brought it. Enjoy the game and go Packers/Steelers! (See, I'm learning!)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mix It Up!

by Kris Pitcher

We had what I would call a successful Ground Hog's Day in which an early spring was predicted. With this renewed hope comes a sense of needing to mix things up. Winter can get a little stir crazy for people and I be you might just be needing a lift right about now. You've been doing great with your plan and February has arrived. What time is it?

It's time to mix it up! Our bodies adapt to stimulus pretty quickly. In order to make progression, we need to change the stimulus. I know, I know. We don't like change. But, if we want to keep making's time to do something different. I changed my purse twice this week. I found a lip gloss, and a really nice pen. So, change is good. Let's go!

I love the step mill!
Let's mix up your cardio. If you're a treadmill zombie, like me - it's time to add the spice of life, variety! It doesn't matter what you do, just change it up. I recently branched out and started using the stepper, and the elliptical. Seems pretty wild, right?

Try one of those classes you've been eyeing the gym. Get in the pool to swim, just mix it up. Simply doing a hill climb program rather than the flat-line manual program is enough to shake things around. This gives your brain a boost too.

The idea is to change the stimulus, keeping your muscles and cardiovascular system guessing as to what you're doing. It gives you variety, and keeps you from being lulled into a coma. People quit because they get bored and sick of the same thing. Well, I tell you something different. The simple trick of mixing it up, will keep you in the game!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Marathon Bound, Meet Andrea!

by Kris Pitcher

I want to introduce you to one of Team Pitcher's newer athletes. She's wicked hilarious and I know you'll enjoy getting to know her. It's my pleasure to introduce, Andrea!

KP: Tell us a little about growing up on the Palouse.
AF: Well, technically I grew up in the Columbia Basin, Ephrata WA exactly. I had a very, very interesting childhood. I spent a lot of time with my very Southern Grandma. She taught me the ways of sass, sparkles, and shoes, and I am a stronger person for it. I have lived on the Palouse since I was 18, and have never had the heart to leave. I love driving into Pullman every morning, it keeps me very grounded. 

KP: Were you athletic in high school? Involved in sports?
AF: OOOOOOHHHHHHH NO. I tried volleyball, and decided that I really didn't like having large plastic objects directed at my head. I am extremely uncoordinated - zero hand-eye coordination. I was an A student (except for PE which was an A-) and was involved with things like...drama, editor of the school newspaper, knowledge bowl, debate team, math team (not kidding), KEY club - and at 14, I worked full time for our family's video store. I was a little bit of a geek, but a fashionable geek.

KP: How did you get interested in running, and what was the first race you entered?
AF: I used to run as a kid, but I had asthma pretty bad - so I never was really successful. My motto used to be, "I will run when something is chasing me." After my surgery, my lower lip/jaw was still really really numb. I asked what I could do to improve that, and the doctor suggested intense cardio. I am not coordinated enough to participate in exercise classes so I decided to jump on the treadmill. About three months into it - I decided I loved it. It gave me time to decompress; I liken it to meditation or a religious experience. My first race ever? Probably the Canal Caper when I was eight or nine... My first real race was Jan 1, 2011 - 4 miles in 33:14. Next up Feb 13, 2011 - 5K. Easy. As. Pie.

KP: What exactly is a lentil?
AF: I still haven't figured that out... but I hear you can put them in ice cream, so we're friends.

KP: Does your husband run with you, or is this something you do solo?
AF: I do this solo, and that is partly the reason I love it. I get some time to be alone in my head. Shiloh likes to climb mountains... I really like beds and running water.

KP: You're training for a marathon, which race and when is the big date?
AF: The Portland Marathon, October 8th, 2011

KP: You travel a lot for work, how have you balanced your training with that?
AF: You have to make a decision to get out and do it. Everyday you have a choice, and you have to plan. If you try to "wing it" it won't work. So, I plan where and when I will fit in my runs, and it has been really fun, actually. You get to explore a different side to a city when you run; it is almost like an underground culture.

KP: When did you realize you would benefit from having a performance based nutrition plan to accompany your training?
AF: When I thought about laying down on the Chipman Trail to die. LOL! I have always known that nutrition is vital to successful running. I thought I could just figure it out as I went, but it wasn't working. I had an eight mile run where I thought the world was going to end, and it was then I thought, "I feel this way because of my diet - not because of lack of training." I wanted someone who knew the science behind nutrition to help me, and let me tell you I feel 100% better. Thank you Team Pitcher.

KP: Looking ahead to upcoming trips, how will you manage your new eating plan on the road?
AF: If left to my own devices I make really bad choices. I love sweets, and candy, and all that is so incredibly bad for me and my training. So, I will plan ahead, I will be prepared. I will tell myself no, and I will ask for help.

KP: What part of your training is hardest for you?
AF: Besides the short shorts??? Asking for help - that was the hardest for me. It was also the best decision I have ever made. We all have to acknowledge our limitations.

KP: Once you complete this goal, what's next for you?
AF: Well, it would be a dream to be able to qualify for and run the Boston Marathon. So, I will keep working until I get there.

KP: You married your high school sweet heart, and live the simple life with no kids, what do you guys like to do for fun?
AF: We laugh a lot. We watch a lot of movies, travel, and hopefully this summer I will put my big girl pants on and take a couple of hiking trips with him.

KP: I know you have an entire room devoted to shoes (I'm a little envious) now that you're a runner, how many pairs of running shoes have you been through?
AF: I have been through six pairs... It seems like I always have them on when I get roped into doing yard work, and who wants to wear dirty shoes?? LOL! I LOVE the ones I have now, and after winter I will need to replace them. Perhaps, I will need an indoor and outdoor pair... hmmmmm.

KP: We love having you on Team Pitcher! What else would you like readers to know about the wild world of Andrea?
AF: It's pretty unpredictable. I think that to keep your head on straight, you need a good sense of humor. You need to be able to revel in your success, and learn from your mistakes. You can't be too hard on yourself, and you need to be able to laugh at your short comings. You need to dance it out often, and especially on the treadmill. Acknowledge that asking for help is not a weakness. And, sparkles and cute shoes make everything better!   

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Finding Gratitude

by Kris Pitcher

Finding motivation is an ongoing quest for a lot of people. Motivation isn't something external that happens to you, or channels through you. It's more of a sense of attitude.

Where do you see gratitude in your life?
A great place to get grounded in our attitude around motivation is gratitude. Searching for what we are grateful for in our lives creates a base for motivation. It always comes back around to what we value.

Gratitude can be found in odd places. I'm grateful for my 25 minute commute to the office because it gives me time to be in my head and think. It's creative time when I can be alone with my thoughts. I find inspiration, motivation, for my writing in these quiet moments. It's time I enjoy, and it's actually productive.

Where do you recognize gratitude in your life? Have you looked for it lately? If you slow down and notice, you'll see the base for motivation toward your goals there. Remaining connected to that takes work and practice. But you won't have to look far, it's all around you.

Center your attitude around what you're grateful for, and you'll be looking motivation in the face. Smile, you've found a beautiful thing...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Super Bowl Training

by Kris Pitcher

It just dawned on me that this Sunday is the Super Bowl! With all of the spirited watching about to take place...we need to step things up this week in preparation. We're already one day behind. Sorry about that, I really only know Sunday to be the day after my cheat meal, leg day at the gym - quads specifically, a great day to fold laundry...and usually a day to work in a nap and a movie on the couch. My bad.

Let's get to it! First we need to step up our cardio this week. You heard me right. Add 10 minutes to your current regimen. You can also increase the intensity by adding some arm pumping movements. This will come in handy on Sunday when you root for your team. If there will be artichoke dip, add 20 minutes each day.

Next, let's get our booty into the groove. The groove of the sofa that is. You need to be eyeing your spot and figuring out how you will capture it for your own. Now, you'll be up and down a lot getting things for others. Refreshing beverages and the like will have you in and out of the sofa be thinking of your plan.

In preparation, squats. You can't do this at the gym, this needs to be done at home. Stand next to the sofa, abs in tight, break at the hips and sit back. Knees should never extend past the toes. Press your glutes into the sofa and pop up immediately pushing through your heels and squeezing your glutes as you come up. Three sets of 10 sofa squats.

Your cardio and squat training is going to require the additional Super Bowl focus of yelling and cheering using appropriate language. I don't advocate this training in the gym this week. But I do suggest you practice this yelling and cheering with your squat training at home. It will increase your cardiovascular capacity and aid in securing your spot on the sofa. Your family will think you're crazy, and they'll steer clear.

This is a solid Super Bowl training plan. And I suggest you get a move on! You've only got a hand full of days left to train for your big day!  Good luck everyone, and GOOOoo...who's playing?