Thursday, March 31, 2011

Getting to the Bottom of Effective Glute Exercises

by Kris Pitcher

I came across this great article at ACE Fitness and just had to share it with you. You'll have to do a little bit of reading, but I want you to get to the bottom of effective glute exercises.

The gluteus maximus is our largest muscle, and the one we need to keep in shape through our life in order to remain independent. Think about it, if you can't stand up and sit down on your can't go to the bathroom. Hey, I tell it like it is.

But, until then, we want our rear to be shapely and represent us well from the back side right? Right! So, ACE took a look at muscle activation via EMG electrodes during specific exercises to see which ones elicited the most response.

You'll see the results and how to put them into practice in the following article. You'll also find explanations of the: squat, front lunge, quadruped & step-up, and single-leg squat. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever

by Kris Pitcher

Pearls of wisdom, old wives tales...folklore and legend. Feed a cold, starve a fever. That's how the saying goes. So when I woke up feeling like someone had stuffed my throat with golf balls...I immediately wanted a scone.

The day before I tried the gel you shoot up your nose, "at the first sign of a cold for immediate relief" - well, so much for that. I suited up and went to work for a meeting I couldn't miss. Then it was straight back to bed. I ate a big bowl of broth surrounding my chicken and broccoli for instant "soup". It was soothing.

I slept until the next meeting I had to phone into. Big mugs of steaming hot tea, couch time with blankets and lap time with one big cat. Yet, this balls. DayQuil to the rescue, I have to function this week...I can almost breathe out of one nostril. I wonder if a scone would fix me?

The saying makes a little sense. It was thought you "caught cold" so eating would increase your body temperature. Likewise a fever increased your body temperature, and starving it would decrease your temperature in theory. Experts of today would tell us to hydrate and eat a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, soup, things with nutritional and hydration value. I don't think a scone fits whether you have a cold or a fever.

I'll just go for extra sleep, a break from heavy workouts, extra hydration, lots of hand washing...and plenty of Kleenex close at hand. Watch out for the crud, it's going around. Stay well and take care of yourselves!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Informed Consent

by Kris Pitcher

  "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt

We spend a lot of time focused on what other people think. And we spend even more time making other people accountable for how we feel. Really though, we own our feelings. We are accountable. 

I'm beautiful & confident!
If we are clear about what we know about ourselves, other people don't have the power to make us make us believe in their word over our own. It's clarity in self which makes Eleanor's statement so true. It's our own self-doubt, our consent, which allows others to make us feel inferior.

As we drift away from our priorities, our values and our goals we become disconnected with our sense of self. We lose clarity on who and what we are...things get fuzzy. We are more easily influenced by others, maybe by messages we don't care for.

Take back your informed consent. Reconnect with your priorities to gain clarity with your sense of self. You own how you feel. The decision to be accountable is yours. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Raising Girls

by Kris Pitcher

One of the things I love about traveling is the absolute social voyeurism. It's also what I hate about it...depending. Recently, we were about to board a flight with forty-seven teen-aged kids with violas, violins and other instruments in cases I couldn't identify. Their buzz drowned out the announcements, but then one of their chaperons began to line them all up for pre-boarding.

As she did, the rest of us began to form somewhat of a line. A man traveling with his daughter stood behind us. She was maybe ten or eleven. "How long ago was 1988?" She asked her dad. "Well, let's see. That was the year after I graduated from high school." He told her.

I was hoping he'd tell her it was not very long was the year I graduated. "A little more than 20 years." He told her. She was flipping through a "teen beat" type of magazine. As we waited on the jet way she said from behind her magazine, "He's an American playing a Candanadian. And she's a Candanadian, playing an American. See, it's the opposite. They're playing the opposite."

She was laughing and her dad chuckled. He didn't correct her, or tell her she was saying the word wrong. He just enjoyed that she found the irony in the actors playing the opposite. Later, as they sat in front of us on the plane, I watched him carefully take the braids out of her hair one by one. He twisted his long arms all around her head in his tiny space, gently pulling each one out. Then he made a motion for her to put her fingers in her hair and shake her hair out. All the while he looked at her with eyes who saw a princess.

See, raising girls is hard. Knowing when to correct...and when to let them just be right. When to not embarrass them in front of other people when it doesn't matter. These are the kind of moments which will shape who she becomes.

They're the moments that will determine her self-esteem, her confidence, and how she'll expect to be treated by men. I couldn't help in my social voyeuristic way to be awe-struck by this dad and his daughter. I was impressed by the gentle way he was with her. Especially amidst what can be so chaotic, travel.

This girl has a fighting chance. I hope you'll be gentle with yourself, and with the girls you know...after all raising girls is hard.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Three Steps to Stopping Suzie Social

by Kris Pitcher

This is a difficult issue to talk about. The gym is a very social place, some more than others. True, certain gyms have a specific vibe. Some are known for being the singles hang-out, others are flush with families. Those things help us decide which gym is right for us. Even so, when you're in the zone sometimes you just want to do your own thing.

So, what do you do when you only have a certain amount of time to get your workout done and you run into Suzie Social, or Chatty Chad? Like I said, it's difficult. You don't want to be rude. And some people just aren't aware of their tendency to monopolize your time.

Here is a three step approach to help you end a conversation...that's going nowhere r-e-a-l s-l-o-w. First, smile and acknowledge the chatter. "Hey, Cathy thanks for stopping to talk."

Next, place a hand on their shoulder or elbow, "I don't mean to cut you short, but I'm going to let you get back to your workout. I've got to get going myself, but I'll see you next time."

Finally, as you begin to walk away, "Have a great workout Cathy. Take care."

Don't be afraid to take the three step approach to take back your time. Then get on with it. I know women who leave their headphones in even though they're not listening to anything. Others adopt a "no eye contact" rule. Those things work to a certain extent, but you've also got to be able to talk your way out of a chatty situation.

We go to a very social gym and love that about it. The atmosphere is great, the energy and people are great and we are hardly ever in a big hurry. Surprisingly people rarely come up to us mid-workout and intrude with questions. There's lots of conversation back and forth, but every one's in their workout groove. So, there's an ebb and flow. Everyone "gets it".

What makes the three step approach successful is you are voicing what you need in an assertive way. You are taking control of the chatter by physically touching them, and you're smiling letting them know everything's good. It works. Chat at ya later! I've got to get back to it!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Clean Your Diet!

by Kris Pitcher

The tulips are coming up and spring is on the way! I think I'm safe to take my snow boots and tow rope out of my car too. As the sun comes out and the days are getting longer...the dust bunnies start to come out and I can clearly see it's time to spring clean.

Let's clean it up, shall we?
That goes for our diet too! It's time to spring clean your diet. Get those dust bunnies outta there! Here's my plan for a week of focused cleaning. From there, see how you feel. But if you've been slipping at all, take a week to clean it up.

Ditch the refined carbs. This means, well everything! If it's not in the form mother nature intended, skip it. Look for whole grains and try some new things like barley, quinoa, or get back to basics with beans. Breads, cereals, cookies, crackers etc. out for one week.

See ya later sodium! Any packaged or canned items are loaded with added sodium. And if you eat out, you're over your daily recommended amount in three bite fulls. Watch condiments as well which can be a hidden source of high sodium.

Down with sugar! Read labels for added sugar. You're looking for the obvious, but also be on the lookout for sucrose, lactose, fructose, corn sugar, high fructose corn sugar etc. Agave, honey, and "raw" all still sugar. If you really want to clean out totally - no sorbitol, an alcohol sugar.

And for one week...cover your eyes and peek through your fingers. No soda, diet or regular. I hope you're not drinking regular soda, but for just one week, no diet soda either. It's got a  fair amount of sodium, enough artificial sugar to make your body think you're getting the real thing, and can send your brain craving carbs and sweets. Just one week. Uncover your eyes now.

Spring cleaning your diet will help you focus on eating healthy and giving your body the nutrients it needs. It will give your brain the message that you can do without certain things (things you thought you had to have), while allowing your body to make some progress. Sugar, sodium and refined carbohydrates can cause us to be bloated, and put us in a psychological and physiological cycle of wanting more goodies.

Here's to spring! Happy cleaning!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Don't Microwave That!

by Kris Pitcher

I was waiting for my husband to finish with a client so we could do our workout. As I sat outside the cardio room the Zumba participants began to surround me. They were chatty and excited. They either knew each other or introduced themselves to one another. They were really a lively bunch. And the feeling of being a fly on the wall of their conversation was great.

I want it right now!
One of them said her husband was on this crazy hormone diet where he was only eating 500 calories a day, and did the other gal know anything about it. The other gal said she did because her friend's dad did the diet but he was gaining all his weight back because he hadn't changed his habits.

Then I wanted to hug this girl. She said, "I'm no spokes model for weight loss. I mean I know I'm over weight. But I've already lost 50 pounds by changing my habits. I've started eating healthy and exercising. And I've changed the way I think about food."

Seriously, I almost kissed her! I kept my nose in my Lucky magazine and the smile crept across my face. This gal still had maybe another 50 pounds to go, but she was on her way into Zumba and she was spreading the word! She's the perfect spokes model! Then she said something really smart.

"We are a microwave society. We want everything right now. If your computer doesn't boot up in under 20 seconds it's too long. We just have to do the work and take our time. It's a lifestyle." She's right. On all accounts.

What's the take-away? Slow down and take your time, stop looking for the quick fix, keep your ears open, and don't microwave that!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just Shy of Self-Destruction

by Kris Pitcher

I found myself teetering on the brink of disaster yesterday morning looking at it. For a split second I thought I would stand on it, and weigh myself. Then the haze of a twelve hour travel day the day before started to clear. I sat in the bathroom dazed by my own self destruction.

Then in good habitual form, I marched down the hall to don my sports bra and walk on the treadmill in my pajamas. I had to keep from laughing out loud at myself. What was I thinking? Following four days of traveling for work, eating off schedule, exercising...well intermittently and not drinking enough water - why in my right mind WOULD I EVER STEP FOOT ON THE SCALE?

It would be pure self torture. Yet we do this to ourselves all the time. As if I need to measure the damage. Do I really want to know just how bad it might be? No, not really. What I want is some stick to my ribs consistency. I want my schedule.

I certainly didn't need any negative reinforcement, and neither do you. When we get off track, or life has to take over for a short while, we just need to get right back into it. We don't need to measure the in betweens. We don't need to torture ourselves and punish ourselves by validating what we already know. I know I was a little off track, so I got back on track. Period.

Next time you find yourself teetering on the brink, you need to stop just shy of self destruction. It's a completely unnecessary trip.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Know Thy Self

by Kris Pitcher

Being aware of your habits is important to your success. Recognizing our "quirks" helps us minimize what I would call situational dangers and maximize our chances of getting through the day on track.

For instance, if we were either dogs or squirrels in terms of our eating behaviors...I'm a dog. I vote to eat everything now. I don't care about later. Heck, there is no later. I know this about myself. And now, you know it too. Sorry.

Many are squirrels. You save things for later. You're not concerned about eating it now, you know you'll need it in the future. Fortunately there is a scale between dog and squirrel where I hope we can each find our happy place.

I also know that "out of sight out of mind" does not work for me. Many of us need to more diligently control our environments. We know the cookies are in the pantry...for the kids. Or for the party, or left over from what ever. But they are in there and I will not rest until I have eaten every last one...right now, because I'm a dog.

Knowing this and being truthful and honest with myself means I can be successful. How? By creating an environment around me where I can be. Sure, there are times when I am super woman, armoured with great restraint. During those times you could wave Girl Scout thin mints under my nose and I wouldn't flinch. But there are other times when I am downtrodden, weak and weary. That sleeve of thin mints would either be down my throat or up your nose in a flash. Either's no good.

Sometimes we are surprised by our lack of or great deal of success - or when we get it right. Believe me, it's not by accident. The reality is, we've figured out our habits about eating. If it were just about the numbers, the nutrition and the fuel this would be really easy. It's not, not for most of us. It's about managing our quirks, and knowing thy self.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Destination You!

by Kris Pitcher

We talk a lot about the journey. Mostly because it takes a long time, and we continue it for the rest of our lives. I hope I didn't just lose every last reader. But did you know you'll actually get there! You will hit your goal, and many of you may have already done just that.

Then what? Well, then we need a solid maintenance plan. A Destination You Plan! Usually when we hit our weight goals we celebrate, buy some new clothes, and then we feel a little lost. Most people make the mistake of not having the after plan. Which is really just the ongoing plan.

What trips us up the most? We start to slack off "just a little" on our exercise. Our portions creep up the tinniest bit. Our food diary goes out the window. And we start skipping the scale. So let's just assume we are going to keep doing those things; tracking our food, maintaining our portion control, maintaining our exercise, and getting on the scale once a week.

Keep your schedule is rule number one. Maintaining your meal schedule is what got you successful weight loss. So guess what? Keep doing that! It will keep working. At minimum three meals and two hearty snacks each day to keep your metabolism burning.

Remember volume is your friend. Fiber rich foods, water rich veggies are great for filling you up and keeping you regular. Keep those coming. Choose complex carbohydrates. No sugar is still a good rule. Those goodies still aren't for you. Smile.

Choose healthy fats from nuts and fish. Look for fresh over packaged foods, remember what got you to your goal. Be able to make trade offs. If you are going out for lunch, be able to adjust your meals. Note I say adjust, this doesn't mean you don't eat your other meals. It means maybe you have your carbs at the restaurant, but not at other meals for that day. Make sense?

Aim to maintain with healthy habits and around 1500-1700 calories per day for the ladies, add more for you guys out there. Once you hit your goal be proud! Then get right into your maintenance mind to keep your destination you body.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lose the Peanut Gallery

by Kris Pitcher

Every one's got something to say, don't they? A lot of people want to offer advice, crazy rituals and "techniques", and even judgments. Knowing the good from the bad and the ugly is important on your way to success.

It's the judgment that can leave us stirring in a negative stew. And if you've ever seen a handful of women can get ugly. "Can you believe she's wearing that!" or "Did you see who she was with?" The gallery's commentator style play by play is followed by lots of OMGs and cackling,

Our own fear of being judged by others in the same way can cause us to have negative emotions. Those emotions build on each other like a mini tornado. We feel guilt, inadequacies, and down right...down.

When people criticize others it comes from a place of their own insecurities. It's hard to remember the peanut gallery is a bunch of know-it-all, insecure wish-they-were's. If some one's comments aren't constructive, it's perfectly fine to say, "Thank you, but no thanks."

Not accepting comments from the peanut gallery will help you let go of guilt and anger you might feel toward them and their comments. Sometimes you just need to lose the peanut gallery. No thanks.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Let Your Senses Explore

by Kris Pitcher

There is no better way to explore than through our senses. As the sun begins to make sneak appearances, and we are teased by spring...I've become aware of conversations all around me about planting. People are already talking about their gardens this year. And that makes me think about one thing, farmer's markets!

Having grown up in a city with a historic and world renown farmer's market, I know how great they are. A true treat for the senses. We will be getting a year round indoor market here in Spokane USA this year which is pretty exciting. Any time I visit a place, I'm on the lookout for a farmer's market. Big or small, they are such a treat.

Local items, sustainably grown, fresh, many organic, in-season fruits and produce abound. Hand crafted cheeses, breads, and goodies galore! The smells, the textures, the sounds and the people. I love it!  

The next time you're in a new or different place, let your senses explore by finding a farmer's market. Enjoy a fresh look at a new place through local eyes. Pick yourself up some one of a kind items while you're at it. Open your senses and have fun exploring in your own city or the next time you're out of town!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stay Slim Mealtime Trick!

by Kris Pitcher

This comes right from Eating Well, a site which I love! Slurp up and enjoy!

Stay slim with this mealtime trick: start your meal with one of these healthy soups and salads.

Filling up on fiber- and water-rich foods first can help prevent you from overdoing high-calorie fare later. Research out of Penn State shows that eating a first-course salad can reduce overall calorie intake at a meal by up to 12 percent. Another study showed that people who started lunch with vegetable soup ended up eating 20 percent less than those who skipped the soup. Try this healthy soup recipe before your dinner tonight. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Eating Well, On The Road

by Kris Pitcher

Travel can really throw your schedule for a loop. But eating well on the road isn't as hard as you think. With a  little planning, preparation, and shameless public indulgence you'll be a pro in no time.

The first assumption I'm making is you have an eating plan. This might be a wild one, but we've got to start somewhere. When I travel, I try to stay as close to my plan as possible - knowing there will be concessions. And by that I mean give and take, not cotton candy.

We're flying, and staying in a hotel. These will be the guidelines for our tips today. Driving and staying in a condo or with friends is easy-peazy, you can figure that out.

I'm a mid range hotel kind of gal. If it doesn't have an in-room coffee maker, that's a deal breaker. My preference is a mini fridge and microwave too, but the key to the mini bar will do in a pinch.

Before you go you need to do some research. What restaurants are near your hotel? Where is the nearest grocery store, or market? Even a convenience store will have a few things you can get by on. If you'll have a rental car your range is extended. Otherwise you're looking within safe walking distance, or public transportation route.

Pack smart and think ahead. Oatmeal for breakfast? Great, take your own. I measure out my 1/4 cup and put it in a snack size zipper bag. That in-room coffee are urban camping my friend. Make yourself a cup of hot water, pour it on your oats and wait five minutes. (I even put cinnamon in mine - just like at home!) Gone for three days, take three baggies. Getting the hang of this?

I add protein powder to my oatmeal. I take a gallon baggie with enough powder servings for however many days I need. Easy enough. Now I've controlled my breakfast meal. Get yourself to the grocery store and look for pre-cooked items, cold cuts, yogurts, even hard boiled eggs. Whatever is on your plan. If you have an in-room refrigerator you are set. If not, you will need to make multiple trips, and make use of your ice bucket. Keep in mind you can't store anything cold for any amount of time with your ice bucket.

The day of travel can be tricky. I rarely check a bag anymore. It's become an expensive hassle. There are some decent choices at the airport, but I'd rather just take what I need. I pre-measure my chicken and put it in zipper baggies. For a full day of travel I would take five baggies. Three of them I will freeze.

In the morning, I pack the two I haven't frozen on top of the three I have. By the late afternoon or evening the frozen ones are thawed out. I eat these throughout the day, on schedule (that's the shameless public indulgence part). When the friendly airline attendant is handing you your half ounce cereal mix...I'm eating chicken and oatmeal. Yes, I have made oatmeal with a cup of coffee in flight. Crazy looks? I don't care.

You need to have hand wipes, a plastic fork, some napkins. You can always get a salad, cut veggies, fruit etc. to go along with your protein. It's the protein I find so challenging to get on the road. And sometimes you just barely make your connection, let alone a side trip to find food at the airport. Restaurants will prepare things however you want, you just need to ask. No salt, butter etc. Make good choices off the menu and you'll be fine.

You need to be organized, plan ahead, and take a big purse! Happy and healthy eating on the road!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Luck of the Irish

by Kris Pitcher

Every one's Irish on St. Patrick's Day! I know there will be plenty of corned beef, cabbage, green beer (although I prefer a black & tan), bangers and mash, soda bread...and a whole host of other traditional Irish dishes served up today. Rest assured there will be pot lucks o plenty!

But just what is the "luck of the Irish"? Scholars disagree on the origin of the phrase. I guess if scholars agreed - in general - that might be the end of scholarly work. We'd just kind of end it. So they disagree. I digress...

Some trace the origin to the gold rush era in the west. A high number of Irish were particularly lucky and found their pot of gold in California. Their success secured the term "luck of the Irish". It also secured a positive connotation to the phrase.

Others believe when the Irish arrived in the US they were disliked, mistreated, and hated so terribly that their luck was horrible. When they had any kind of success at all Americans at the time didn't think the Iris were capable of such successes, so they called it luck. Hence the term "luck of the Irish". In this sense, it's meant as very bad luck. Or accidental at best.

The Irish certainly have endured famine, war, persecution, and prejudice. So they've had their fair share of bad luck. Whether ill will or good fortune how you see your "luck" paves the way for your success.

If every one's Irish on St. Patrick's Day, which way do you see it? Which perspective will you choose to take as you move forward toward your goals in health and wellness, and in life? Do you see yourself as deserving of success, or if it happens is it my accident?

I hope you'll see your success as good fortune, and reach your pot o gold! As you do, more success will follow.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I've Started Purging

by Kris Pitcher

It began when I got home from the gym and started to empty my bag. I threw my bra right in the garbage can. I wanted to throw it in the garbage can at the gym...but I thought that might look a little weird to the other lady in the locker room. Besides, whoever has to empty the garbage doesn't need to be creeped out by underwear.

It had been wrestling me all day. And it wasn't the first day either. Oh, I tried to adjust it...but this had gone on WAY too long. I am done with that bra! I slam-dunked that bad girl right in the can!

Then I pushed open the closet door and tried on two suit jackets. I felt like I was being "punked". I looked around for cameras in my bedroom. None. The sleeves were too short, and I felt like I was going to do a Hulk tear out the back. My lat pull downs are working. Out of there!

T-shirts with sleeves that are too tight, no more. I am not a small. I'm just not. See ya later smediums. Shirts with buttons that won't come close to their holes...gone. These must go.

It's hard because I have several sizes of clothes. When I'm dieting down for a contest, I get out my skinny bin of clothes which spends its time under the stairs. But it's my pants size which changes the most. My suit jackets are not going to fit me when I diet down. So, it's time to let them go. And my closet will be skinnier for it.

I've come to realize there are certain things I've been cramming back into my closet...because I love them. But the truth is, they aren't going to work for me. It creates a frustrating situation when I try to get dressed. Nothing fits, I can't find anything, there's no space. It's a mess. So, I've started purging.

If spring really is coming, it might be time for you to start purging too. Get rid of that skirt you never wear. Let go of a few of the nine pairs of black slacks you have. Clear some space to move! I'm feeling better already, like I can breathe. Oh, and I should take this jacket off, it looks like it belongs to my twelve year old brother!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Muscle Soreness 101!

by Kris Pitcher

Do you remember the first time you were really sore from a workout? You might have done something new or been just getting back into it. You might have even said some bad words...

We each certainly have our own tolerance level for being sore too. One thing to be sure of though, being sore is not a requisite of a good workout. Meaning, you don't have to be sore to have had a good workout. It's also not a build up of toxins or lactic acid.

Me? I want to not be able to walk down the stairs the day after I've worked my quads. But I'm crazy like that. Muscle soreness, or "delayed onset muscle soreness", DOMS - is the result of micro tears during the eccentric contraction (when the muscle is lengthening under load).

DOMS is a normal process of muscle adaptation and allows for our muscles to grow and gain strength and stamina. We usually feel the soreness a day or two days following the activity or exercise. Note this is not the same as an acute injury like a strain or sprain. Nothing like it.

What do we do? Well, the jury is out and researchers don't agree. But there are a few things which are generally accepted:

  • Active Recovery - low impact, to increase blood flow - similar to what you might do for a cool down, walking for instance
  • Rest & Recover - it takes 3-7 days to wait it out
  • Gentle Massage - can reduce soreness, increase blood flow and reduce inflammation
  • Use R.I.C.E - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation - ice no longer than 15 minutes and always have a barrier between your skin
  • Gentle Stretching - research doesn't find stretching alone to reduce muscle pain, but it feels good
DOMS can be an indication that you've done too much too soon. Often when we change our routine we feel sore at first. Then once we've become adapted to more soreness. Guess what? Time to change it up again. Know your tolerance for muscle soreness, and work with that. It doesn't mean you have or haven't had a good workout. Weekend warrior? Plan to sit at your desk on Monday.

Knowing a little bit about muscle soreness 101 should help you determine if you might be overtraining, under-training, or if your recovery is right on track! Now, can someone help me down the stairs?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are?

by Kris Pitcher

Many of us have at times felt marginalized, discriminated against, ignored or dismissed. No one wants to be made to feel that way. And while the instances in which those "things" might have occurred in our lives are long gone, sometimes those feelings creep up on us.

When they do, it's difficult to stay on track. Emotional eating can be brought on by many things, but these are amongst them. What if feeling like a second class citizen was a self fulfilling prophecy?

I wonder, what will change in your life when you meet your weight loss goal? My sense is we should feel empowered to live the life we want now. There is no need to wait. We don't need to be a certain size, have a certain "thing", a certain amount of money...fill in the blank. There is no then, there's only now.

Finding your empowerment means redefining those feelings of being dismissed, ignored, or marginalized. It means letting those things go, and not allowing them to be a crutch. It means reaching deep for the strength you own. It's already there, waiting for you to live in your now. 

The question becomes, what will change in your life today? You are who you think you are. Right now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Exercise Benefits Overnight

by Kris Pitcher

Last week I was in the locker room at the gym and a lady said, "Wouldn't it be great if exercise worked overnight?" As I literally dropped my smarty pants, I said, "Well, I always say we only have to do it as long as we want it to work."

I went on to tell her since we want it to work "forever", we don't have to be in a hurry. She was kind of speechless. "I never thought of it that way. Have a good work out." She said.

That's the problem, people don't think of it that way. We still want magic to happen to us without any work on our part, oh and could we get that overnighted?

I could have science geeked her by telling her some of what she was about to do actually would work over night...or at night. Meaning the benefit is physiologically happening when we are recovering. But it wouldn't be in the sense she meant. What she meant was she'd like the last twenty years of thoughtless eating, zero exercise and gained weight to disappear...overnight.

Take your time. We have our entire lives to live healthfully. There is no end point to exercise and eating healthy. We will continue to do it as long as we want to have the benefits. Making progress toward our goals happens over time, not over night.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Are You Supplement Savvy?

By Kris Pitcher

There's a lot to know about supplements. And there is great misunderstanding and confusion. This quiz comes from the federal Trade Commission and has been provided through Ace Fitness. Let's see what we know!

Test Your Supplement Savvy

Advertised throughout the media, displayed in grocery stores and pharmacies, and promoted widely on the Internet, dietary supplements look like just another consumer product on the shelf. But are they?

Take this quiz created by the Federal Trade Commission to find out how much you know about safely  using dietary supplements.
1. A supplement labeled “natural’” means that it also is ___________.
A. Mild
B. Without any risk of side effects
C. Safe to use with other medications
D. None of the above

2. Since dietary supplements are so readily available and don’t require a doctor’s prescription, they are much safer than drug products and can be used to self-treat illnesses without a health professional’s advice or supervision.
A. True                B. False

3. Testimonials in dietary supplement promotions give a good idea of the supplement’s benefits and safety because they’re based on first-hand accounts.
A. True               B. False

4.Many supplements have proven health benefits.
A. True               B. False

5. Before you start taking a dietary supplement, talk it over with a knowledgeable person, such as _____________________.
A. Your doctor or healthcare professional
B. Your pharmacist
C. A supplement salesperson
D. A friend who takes them


1. D. The term “natural” may suggest to consumers that the supplement is safe, especially when compared with prescription drugs that are known to have side effects. But natural is not necessarily safe. Although many supplements can be used safely by most people, other supplements, including some herbal products, can be dangerous.
Aristolochic acid, which has been found in some traditional Chinese herbal remedies, has been linked to severe kidney disease. And the herb ephedra has been linked to serious, even fatal, cardiovascular complications. Even certain vitamins can be toxic at high doses. And certain supplements have been found to interact with other medications in ways that could cause injury.

2. False. Studies have shown that some herbal products interact with drugs and can have a wide range of effects.
For example, St. John’s Wort can lower the effects of indinavir, a protease inhibitor for treating HIV.
St. John’s Wort also may interfere with drugs used by organ transplant patients and drugs used to treat depression, seizures and certain cancers. In addition, there are concerns that it may reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.
Garlic, ginkgo, danshen and dong quai can cause blood to thin, which could cause serious problems for people on drugs like warfarin or aspirin.
Dietary supplements are not required to go through the same pre-market government review for quality, safety and efficacy as drug products. But that doesn’t mean they should be taken lightly—or without consulting your healthcare professional, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking other drugs.

3. False. It’s unwise to judge a product’s efficacy or safety based only on testimonials.
First, it is very difficult to verify the accuracy of the account: Some marketers may embellish or even make up testimonials to sell their products. Second, you can’t generalize one person’s experience to others. Anecdotes are not a substitute for valid science.

4. True. Studies suggest that several popular supplements, including herbal products, may provide health benefits. For example, calcium can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, folic acid during pregnancy can prevent birth defects, and there is some evidence suggesting that glucosamine may be helpful in reducing inflammation and pain for some people with mild or moderate osteoarthritis.
Check out any health claims with a reliable source, such as the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, a public health or scientific organization like the American Cancer Society or the Arthritis Foundation, and your health provider.

5. A or B. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or other healthcare provider about any medicines you take, as well as any dietary supplements you’re using or thinking about using. Though some doctors have limited knowledge of herbal products and other supplements, they have access to the most current research and can help monitor your condition to ensure that no problems develop or serious interactions occur.
Retailers or marketers can be good sources of information about their products and their ingredients, but bear in mind that they have a financial interest in their products. If your doctor or pharmacist has a financial interest in the product, get a second, independent opinion.

Additional Resource

For more information about the safe use of dietary supplements, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Virtual Health Treatments page at
The Federal Trade Commission works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of a variety of consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP, or use the complaint form
The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Boost Your Attitude!

by Kris Pitcher

One sure way to keep yourself on the road to success is to have a positive and healthy attitude. When I'm struggling, feeling tired, or lacking motivation - I look for inspiration just like you! I came across four great tips from Oxygen magazine. This article brings together things we've talked about to help us with our performance and with our healthy attitude.

Enjoy this short article as it relates to getting adequate sleep, replaying your success, making sure you have enough recovery time, and reading what the experts say. Staying connected helps us boost our attitude!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Body Image Make Over

by Kris Pitcher

Answer these questions:

  • Do you feel guilty after eating foods that are high in fat?
  • Do you panic if you gain a few pounds?
  • Do you have trouble accepting compliments on your body?
  • Do you weigh yourself more than once a week?
  • Do you talk negatively about your body?
While you may not have disordered eating, answering yes to any combination of these might mean your body image could use a make over. Our body image is how we see ourselves. It's a combination of our experiences, personality, and social and cultural influences. Having a positive or healthy body image means we have a real perception of our size and shape. 

A negative body image means we have a distorted perception of our size and shape. We compare ourselves to others, we might even feel shame and anxiety about our body. This affects how we think and feel about ourselves as people and can lead to emotional distress, low self esteem, unhealthy dieting habits, anxiety, depression and eating disorders. 

I think about body image as a continuum where positive is on one end and negative is on the other. We're all somewhere in between. And our placement on the continuum is dynamic, it changes. Some days are good, some not so good. It ebbs and flows with different stages in our lives. Hopefully we can each identify a time or times in our lives when we've been close or stayed closer to the positive end.

Developing a healthy attitude is important to our happiness and well being. I have a few tips to help keep us on track with a healthy and positive body image.

Experiment with a size and weight that's comfortable for you. There is no perfect size. Accept that you will have fluctuations and variations throughout your life. Ditch the magic number, size or weight from your head. 

Try experiencing your body as a whole rather than as separate parts needing to be fixed. We tend to pick ourselves apart in pieces. Step back and see the whole you.

Pay attention to how much time you spend worrying about your looks instead of being aware of what's going on around you. What are you missing out on? 

Give up media for one week. And while you're at it, break it off with your inner super model. That image of air brushed perfection does not exist.

People with positive body images practice these things, that's why they are successful. Love the you that you are right now. Put the unrealistic expectations out with the trash and give yourself some credit. You've got a lot to be thankful, grateful, and proud of! 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Winning The Time War

by Kris Pitcher

At the conclusion of a meeting, the committee chair began the comical task of setting the next meeting. I opened my calendar and waited. Selecting the date was easy enough.

My eyes began to dart around the table as times were being discussed. Getting eight people in one place at one time is next to impossible. Morning wouldn't work for one, afternoon was out for another..."How about 11:30?"

"That won't work for me." I heard myself saying. "I have a prior commitment." It wasn't a total lie. "Does 1:00 pm work?" I asked. Sure enough it did. And the next meeting was set.

Now, why was everyone willing to give up on lunch? I waver between being a complete slacker, and actually preserving an hour when I can have a meal break, read, take a walk, write, or simply  - not work. That's why it's called "lunch break".

I had to consciously battle for my time barriers. And it's not that I'm not a hard working loyal person. I just know what it's like to let all boundaries slip away until you are your job 24/7. I've done that job. I know I don't want to be that person. So, I work hard to protect my time.

What does your schedule look like? What would happen if you did take your lunch break? The person who gets there first, stays the longest, and works through lunch doesn't win. There is no race to win. Work on protecting your time boundaries. When you do, you win.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Abs & Glutes! On The Road

by Kris Pitcher

On my way into work yesterday I slowed down to allow the tailgater behind me to close the slight gap between us. As he did, I could see he had his chin up to the rear view mirror as he glided his razor around his face. He was trying to get closer so I could get a better look at his skills.  How smart, I thought! I could be saving myself a lot of time if I had an electric razor. As he passed me in his midnight blue Caravan, I wondered if I could get both legs done on my way to work...

It got me thinking about other health and beauty rituals we might be able to do in the car. You know, simply for time saving purposes. Flossing, not safe. Besides I think the steering wheel is dirty. I do see people brush their teeth but I'm not sure about where I'd spit. While I try to take care of those kinds of things at home, there are a few things you can do safely in the car. And with a smile on your face.

Let's take the pelvic-tilt abdominal crunch for instance. Drawing your belly button toward your spine as you contract your abdominals, tilting your pelvis back. Think of your pelvis like a bucket. When your hips are neutral, the bucket is level front to back, and the water stays in the bucket. If you tilt your pelvis forward, the "bucket" would spilt water from your front. Follow? If you tilt your pelvis, "bucket" back you will spill the water out behind you.

So, if you're sitting in your car you'd be spilling your bucket behind you - tilting your pelvis back. It's a small movement, no one will ever know you're doing it. Just don't forget you're driving.

Next we could always squeeze our glutes. A simple squeeze and hold for ten seconds is great. Several repetitions and you'll be working on buns of steel. Don't forget you're driving, and don't hold your breath. Only squeeze your own glutes in the car. We don't want any funny business.

As the clean shaven Caravan tailgater passed me I smiled thinking his mini-van must be a mess of whiskers and goldfish crackers. Gross! I hope he made it to work without incident. I was also glad he passed me the first opportunity he got. He probably would have shaken his fist at me if he had a free hand. Next time you see me on the road, know I am not shaving my legs, but I'm likely working on my abs and glutes!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Forgive Me Monday

by Kris Pitcher

Forgive me Monday, for I have sinned. Friday found me exhausted, weak and weary. I may have already been a little off path so what's the harm? Happy hour deals are too good to pass up, and with a week like I had, ah hell I give up.

Not enough sleep, and already dehydrated. Coffee to the rescue, a triple will do. I think I forgot my multivitamins...oh well, do those work? The slope got more slippery as friends came into town. Lunch out and shopping, followed by missed meals. People don't eat frequently, five hours no big deal.

Brunching and munching not to mention the "indulgence". Missed workouts and forgotten intentions...the weekend was a whirl. Hair of the dog, puffy eyes and water retention...I was supposed to relax and recharge and I spent it like a college girl!

But Monday has come with such a relief, to my aid. I can get back on track and stick to my beliefs. Just think of the progress I might have made...had the weekend not put me back three steps in spades.

If this sounds like your weekend, and you're not making progress - it's time to take back your control. Start today, there's no better time to get on track. Making a small change will help you get motivated to move toward your success. Let's get going, it's Monday!    

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Profile Me

by Kris Pitcher

Since facebook is the largest nation I was interested to learn a recent study showed people who regularly look at their own profile feel self-confident, but those who most frequently look at other people's profiles feel more anxious about stacking up. A subsequent conversation with a colleague about being the person you want to be on fb got me thinking about just becoming that person.

You know how you only post the pictures of you where you're not making the crazy don't update your status with the crappy stuff that happens. You are who you market yourself to be. You can be your best self on fb. And why not be that you, well always?

Or, you could be your authentic self on fb. But honestly we don't want to see the crazy face picture up your nose. And we don't want to hear a bunch of downer status updates about how unfair life is. We want the happy you.

How about a mix of the two? An authentic, happy you. If we do the things we post in our quotes we'd be off to a good start. Maybe if I make sure to put my lipstick on when I leave the house I might slightly resemble one of my fb pics.

All those nice comments, I'd like to hear those from you face to face too. Not just wall to wall. And...if I say them to you don't think I'm being weird. I'm just working on being my profile me.

See, ultimately if we were a little more like our marketed profile selves, we'd feel self-confident regardless of who's profile we were looking at. Shoot, we'd feel self-confident just looking in the mirror. Be your best you! It might even be contagious.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Through Bathroom Doors

by Kris Pitcher

I had a quick conversation with a young lady the other day about her negotiation skills. It got me thinking about the application to our pursuit of healthy lifestyles. She was bantering through a closed bathroom door with her mother in the locker room. She wanted something mom wasn't going to give her...for good reason. But I can't help but stir things up...especially with teen age girls (when I don't have any).

I asked her how her negotiation skills were. She said, "Not good." (BIG teen aged sigh.) She said, "I even offered to make her a cake!" I laughed knowing mom can't have a cake - she's training for a bodybuilding contest. I said, "What about something she would like, like house cleaning?" Confusion..."Well, THAT doesn't sound very fun!" she laughed back at me.

See, negotiation isn't about giving something you want to get something you want. It's about making a trade to get something you want. But in order to do that successfully you need to know what the other person wants. The cake was really about what the girl wanted.

Negotiation for some is an intuitive art, and for others it's a skill which can be learned and refined. Being able to negotiate is important to staying true to your own goals and plans whether you're out with others...or you're talking yourself into your morning cardio. Negotiation at its core is really an attitude: everything is negotiable all the time.

There are four fundamental elements: preparation; information exchange; explicit bargaining; and commitment. In preparation we are learning information about the issue or situation. We are also thinking about what will enhance our leverage (certainly not cake for a dieting competitor). We're also building rapport - which means being cooperative and even asking for advice from our "opponent" about resolution. Another part of preparation is the when/where/how will you negotiate (maybe not through a closed bathroom door, just saying). Finally we want to think about what our goals are, what do we want to accomplish from the negotiation?

As we begin bargaining we need to be prepared to make our opening offer, and then our subsequent offers. What concessions will you make? Remember we're making a trade. We must be willing to give something the other person wants. We are also looking for the best resolution to the issue. There is likely a creative way to create a win-win.

Commitment is about closure. Reaching a decision and implementing it. Keep in mind it's a process of compromise. Assume you'll end up somewhere in the middle of your ideal outcome. Reaching an agreement isn't an exact science or number - think of "fair" as a range. House cleaning...not super fun, but right now it's just the thing to leverage what you want from mom. It's what she needs. And it probably won't kill you.

Sharpening our skills makes us confident negotiators. It's becoming a lost art...but something this young lady can work on not only to get what she wants, but also to communicate what she needs in a better way. Are you communicating what you need in order to get what you want? Be confident to voice what you need and negotiate your way toward what you want. Go get it!  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Just A Treat

by Kris Pitcher

Healthful eating shouldn't be an all or none pursuit. A mindset as such can be a set up for failure. The way I see it there are good choices and better choices. We can also look at it as planning for "not so good choices". Knowing you can have a treat once in a while can be a relief...when it's done right.

The trouble comes when we don't or are not able to manage it. In that case it becomes a threat. So let's look at the difference between a treat and a threat.

A level 1/2 cup...
A treat is a managed portion planned into your diet. It's not something you have every day. It's not something you need or require or must have. It isn't a reward for doing what you were supposed to do, or for sticking to your plan for a certain amount of time. It's just a treat. You see, we've taken the sparkly glitz away from it. You get to have it.

It's arch nemesis is the threat. The threat is the treat gone bad. Way bad. You need it. You feel entitled to have it. You want a lot of it. It will damage your plans, your progress, your goals and your integrity. The threat will pull you into dark places. It will sneak up on you. You didn't plan it. You were lulled by its spontaneity, pressured even. The threat will have you staring into the depths of an empty Doritos bag in fifteen minutes flat.

Many of you know I have a "free choice" or "cheat meal" each week. This is our managed treat. It is planned, calculated, and executed with precision. Recently though it's become necessary to more tightly manage it. Honestly, I had mixed feelings about that. Feelings of entitlement slipped in, of resentment...I had to quickly reason these feelings out with logic. But they were there. See, my 1/2 cup of ice cream had become a hearty cup. So, it's time to bring out the measuring cups this Saturday night. My treat had become a threat.

How are you doing with your treats? Are you managing them well...have they snuck up on you to become threats?

Remembering the difference helps us to stay on track. We all can work a treat into our plan. I bet I'll be just fine with my measured 1/2 cup of ice is after all just a treat.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Calorie Content on Menu Boards - Truth in Numbers

by Kris Pitcher

Will the world as we know it change on March 23rd? 

On March 23, 2010, the President signed the health care reform legislation into law. Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations to list calorie content information for standard menu items on restaurant menus and menu boards, including drive-through menu boards. Other nutrient information – total calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber and total protein – would have to be made available in writing upon request. The Act also requires vending machine operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines to disclose calorie content for certain items.

 Vending Machine Keypad
The FDA is required by law to issue proposed regulations to carry out these provisions by March 23, 2011.  
Find more information at

Many fast food restaurants have already had nutrition information available for some time. You might have had to pick up a fold out brochure or reference a wall chart. Information is widely available on-line, but that defeats the point of having it available as consumers are making choices. 
I like it when I get my Mc Donald's hamburger and the information is on the paper wrapper. (I take off the top bun and fold the meat & the bottom bun and eat it like a taco - BTW)
So, it will be interesting to see what regulation 'provisions' are made on March 23, 2011. Keep your eyes open for those giant reader boards. It will be eye opening to see the salad isn't always the best choice. The truth is in the numbers.   


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring Fever!

by Kris Pitcher

Sunshine, snow, and rain all in one day means spring is on the way! I hope. I hope desperately. I have come down with spring fever. It's going around, I'm not the only one who has it...seems everyone I talk to is ready. Bring on spring!

"An optimist is the human personification of spring." - Susan J. Bissonette

There is hope in optimism. And optimism breeds hope. I am certainly looking forward to a few things on the calendar this spring. One way to instill a bit of hope is to have a little something to look forward to. For some it's a trip, for others it might be something they are training for. 

Having a goal gives us purpose to work toward. And spring is the perfect time to look for an event. I've been inspired lately by people who find 5K races in the cities in which they travel to. How smart are they? What a great way to see a city! And you don't have to run, you can walk. 

Here are a few easy ways to find events in any state.

And finally for those of us who truly are's almost baseball season, and teams are practicing in sunny Arizona!

Branch out of your comfort zone and commit yourself to a 5K fun run or a mini triathlon in your own area or in an area you plan to travel to. It might just give you something to look forward to, and to train for. Happy spring!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bloomsday 2011!

by Kris Pitcher

For readers in and around the Inland Northwest, an important day is approaching on the calendar. One thing is for sure...people in Spokane participate. That's why Sunday, May 1, 2011 is marked on calendars near and far. Sunday, May 1st marks Bloomsday! 

2006 Finisher T-Shirt

In 1977 over 1000 runners took to the course to run the inaugural Bloomsday race. This 12K (7.46 mile) event has been running strong ever since. In 1996 participation hit an all time high with 61,298 runners! An economic impact study was conducted by Gonzaga University in 2004 finding impact to the community in the amount of $9,576,959. This is a big race!

Being two months out, runners and walkers are in training! Whether you've got this race on your calendar, or feel inspired to find one in your neck of the woods, I wanted to share some tips for developing a training program. While it might be review, a reminder is always great. These tips come from Find your way to the bottom of the post for a link to free training clinics.  


How to Develop a Training Program

The most successful training program is one that is properly designed. Your training program must balance a progressive training schedule with rest. By following the principles of proper frequency, intensity, and duration, you will learn to train at the level which is best for you.


Frequency refers to the number of days per week that you will train. At least three and up to five sessions each week is recommended for the best results. Injuries are more likely to occur when exercising six to seven times each week. Less than three times each week is not likely to produce the results you want. However, any amount is better than no training at all if you plan to participate in Bloomsday.


Intensity refers to how hard you are exercising. This is measured by how fast your heart is beating. The heart rate at which you will exercise is known as your TARGET HEART RATE (THR). Your THR will be in the range of 60-85% of your heart rate reserve. Heart rate reserve takes into account your resting pulse to figure out your THR. The following guidelines will help you to determine at which THR range you should begin:
  • 50-65% Sedentary Lifestyle -- no regular exercise.
  • 60-75% Moderately Fit -- exercises one or two times a week, very recently began a regular exercise program, or exercises for less than 20 minutes per exercise session.
  • 70-85% Very Fit -- exercises aerobically three or more times a week for at least 20 minutes and has been doing so for at least three months consistently.
Please read carefully the section titled "Learn About Your Heart Rate (Pulse)" and use the chart to determine your THR.
Remember: When your body adapts to the stress of exercise, adding a slight additional stress is necessary to achieve additional results. Therefore, very gradually increase your THR up to 85% (there is no need to go beyond 85%; it may only hinder your efforts). Spend several weeks at each THR range before increasing.


To derive aerobic training benefits, you should work up to at least 15-20 minutes of exercise while maintaining your THR. Spend five minutes gradually getting up to your THR (warm-up) and five minutes gradually decreasing from your THR after the exercise (cool down).Never abruptly stop exercising.
This information courtesy of health professionals at
Providence Holy Family Hospital & Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center