Sunday, July 31, 2011

Goals On The Road To Success

by Kris Pitcher

“You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures.”

Charles C. Noble

We see our mistakes as the end all. When we falter, we throw our hands up in the air and say, " were right I can't do this!" 

Having long term goals really does keep us on track by allowing us to accept our mistakes, or short term failures. You did know you might make mistakes, right? One of the biggest hurdles for us is we think we have to be perfect in this pursuit.

We don't. We're not. There won't be a time when we get it all right, all of the time. It's just not realistic. Letting go of that notion should free you up to move forward.

It will be your long term goal that you'll continue to look toward to get you through your tough times. A glitch in the road? Look ahead. Think about how you'll get yourself through this temporary situation to move toward your long term goal. 

Being able to navigate the glitches is what makes people successful long term with weight management, or any other issue. Because there will always be difficulties/mistakes/glitches. That's life. 

It's how we deal with them that gets us through. Keeping our eye on our long term goal will do just the trick. It's time to re-evaluate your goals. Get clear on where you are going, and the small things along the way won't frustrate you.  

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Diet Soda Makes You Fat

by Kris Pitcher

I'll be honest, I've been avoiding this topic because I know it won't make me popular. But you're used to hearing the truth from me, and you know I don't sugar coat it for you. Now, I'm not even going to sugar substitute coat it. I'm just going to share some information and as usual you can make your own decision.

I always talk about the "value laden" decisions we make in and around nutrition and this one is no different. Butter or margarine, to drink alcohol or not, fat free or regular, meat or vegetarian...all choices we each have to make based on our values.

Sugar substitutes used to fall into this category. I say "used to" because with the exception of a few rats with cancer early on, we pretty much know the current ones on the market don't "harm" us. Except the science is beginning to tell us information about how the sugar substitutes in diet sodas are making us fat.

Now, maybe this is an issue of relativity. If the choice is sugar vs. sugar it's a matter of degree? Degree and your teeth falling out maybe. Again, things to think about as we make choices.

The San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging looked at 474 people over 9.5 years. They found the diet soda drinkers had a 70% increase over non-diet soda drinkers in waist circumference. This demonstrates a positive relationship between the consumption of diet soda and the increase in obesity. "Frequent" users of diet soda, those consuming more than 2 per day, had a mean increase in waist size five times greater than the non-diet soda drinkers. Check out the study abstract: Diet soft drink consumption linked to increased obesity.

The take away here is, more research is coming out supporting this link. If you're a 12-pack a day might have some decisions to make. If you enjoy one diet soda a day, that may be another story - I don't have the answer.

For me, if I was consuming something that was counter to my goals - I would need to think critically about taking that out of my diet. Our choices should be about aligning our actions with our goals. Food for thought...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lose 20 Pounds Fast!

by Kris Pitcher

Losing weight is important to people. So I thought to myself - how could we do it fast, super fast! And I have two ideas for super fast weight loss. I think these will be easy too. We like easy! I mean who wants to work for this?

First up - our skin! We can lose our skin. Did you know your skin makes up about 15% of your body weight? There's 21 pounds right there. Gone! It is the largest organ in our body and covers 22 sq feet. That's a lot of space.

Our skin is there for a reason though. It's job is to protect everything inside. It is a giant barrier from infection. Our skin keeps us from getting all dried out...inside. Eww. OK, maybe not an option.

My second great idea was our skeleton. Surely we don't need that weighing us down. At 14% of our body weight on average, we're looking at 20 pounds. Bye bye big numbers on the scale!

We have 206 bones. And no, men don't have more than women. Our bones are fairly important however. We need them to hold up our structure and ambulate (walk around). It's the joints of our skeleton which allow us to move. Again...bad idea.

Well, these two ideas for weight loss might not be my best ones ever. But I've had other good ideas in the past. And maybe it helps us keep our expectations in perspective. We wouldn't want to do something as drastic as this, now would we?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Making Meal Time Work

by Kris Pitcher

If I had to rely on preparing each meal when it was time to eat...I wouldn't have time to do anything else. And this is a common pitfall and the reason we have a multi-billion dollar fast food industry. Most people are unprepared. But in order to make your goals work for you - you need to make meal time work.

This is easy to accomplish with another "trick of the trade". People who are successful with weight management plan ahead. You just have to. Now I recognize not to the extent of an athlete. But I'm going to share a few tricks to help you through your week a lot easier.

We've already organized our pantry. What? You didn't quite get to that project yet...well there's still time. Get your grocery list together, you're going shopping for your food for the next seven days. What will you need and how much? Look at your plan! I'm just going to talk you into a big circle here.

But you're right, you might need to get the calculator out. X number of meals, X number of days, times X number of family members...oh boy you're going to have to do some menu planning here! Once you do that, make your list and get your groceries.

Pick a day for food prep. Sunday is a great day. The family is lounging, or at least a little slower. It's time to wash and cut vegetables, and cook ahead. You'll need some nice big storage containers for the refrigerator. At our house, we grill a lot of chicken - so fire up the grill. Six pounds at a time I grill it up, cut it up (it's easier/faster to weigh it out for meal time) and store it .

Same goes for ground turkey. We go through a lot of that. It's on the stove at the same time. You're multi-tasking here. You may also be putting veggies in baggies for lunches, washing fruit, making a cous cous or quinoa salad. That salad can become a meal base you throw your protein into. See how easy meal time is going to be?

Cooking fish? We buy fish frozen - we live inland - I fill my broiler pan and cook 8 fillets at once, no need to thaw them or anything. Getting things prepped in bulk makes mealtime in the (busy) evenings a snap. With food prepared it is easy to fix lunches in the morning, or right alongside dinner in the evening.

Taking two hours on the weekend to prep for a successful week makes or breaks your nutritional plan. Like I've said before, good eating habits don't happen by themselves, and people who are successful at weight management practice it every day. Every. Day. Here is another great trick of the nutrition trade to help you be successful!  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shortcuts and Haircuts

by Kris Pitcher

I don't see men wearing shape-up's. Now, maybe they don't make them for men. Or maybe it's that women seem to fall for every fad, gadget and gizmo. (Not that these shoes are any of those.)

The Hand Fitness Trainer
I'm not sure if we are desperate for something, ANYTHING, that will finally work. Or, if we have just given up and figure what the heck I'll try anything for under $100.

To our credit, we are looking for shortcuts. Our days are too busy, we have too many responsibilities and the dishwasher isn't unloading itself. So a shortcut here and there would be nice, wouldn't it?

One of the problems with the shortcut mentality is it's often coupled with the notion that once you get to a certain size, or's done. You're done.

You're not done. You don't cut your hair once and it stays that way forever. It continues to grow. Maintaining a style requires continued, regularly scheduled cuts. To think it would just stay the way it was cut would just be silly. So is being done once you make a goal weight/size. You will always have maintenance work.

Shortcuts are different from being efficient. You should look for ways to be efficient in your life, but there aren't shortcuts to getting the results you want. There isn't a magic gizmo that's going to do the work for you. You don't need it anyway. You're doing this!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rewarding Good Behavior

by Kris Pitcher

You've had a great week! You've mastered your plan, followed your workout even got to bed on time. You deserve a reward! Rewards can be a great game plan, or game changing depending on how you see them.

Your reward plan should include both big rewards for reaching goals, and small rewards for making weekly progress. The type of reward is crucial to your success long term.

Throughout history, we have rewarded good behavior with - food. Sweets, goodies, going all out! Now, if we're going to make progress we need to make our rewards count, not make them counter.

Learning to reward yourself with non-food items might be a new idea. You do deserve a treat. Let's think about treats that won't take you back two steps when you've just taken one step forward.

The thing about rewards is they have to matter to you. I can make a list of things, but they've got to appeal to you. You'll need to make your own list - get creative. Here are a few things to get you started.

  • go to the movies
  • compliment yourself - make yourself a "self-affirmation" box with sayings in it
  • put a $1 in a jar every day you meet your goals, when it reaches $50 spend it
  • take a bath
  • treat yourself to your hobby
  • get a pedicure
  • buy new underwear
  • read a book
  • spend time with a friend
  • go to the spa
You get the idea. Big rewards might be a weekend away, or an actual vacation. Identify things you love and treat yourself to those things. The work you are doing is deserving...not of a backslide, but of a reward.

Learning to give yourself gifts through your reward plan will have you feeling great about all the hard work you're doing. We need positive reinforcement, it's human nature. Supporting ourselves is part of the process. Now you can begin rewarding good behavior!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sick of Being Tired?

by Kris Pitcher

Are you sick and tired of always being tired? According to the National Institutes of Health, 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep loss and sleep disorders. Seems every one's tired. Here are a few tips to get you out of your daze and back into life.

You need 7 to 8. Hours that is. People who think they can get by with 6 or fewer hours of sleep aren't kidding anyone. On average, we need 7-8 hours of sleep for rest and recovery. It's also difficult to "make up" for lost sleep. A consistent 5 hours per night during the week can't be made up by sleeping the whole weekend.

Make a list before you go to bed. If you wake up and worry, or have trouble falling asleep - this is a great tool. By making a list you are releasing all of your "to do's" and not relying on yourself to remember them the next day. That's too much pressure. When you wake up with worry, write it on the list.

Take a close look at your schedule and commitments. Are there things you can let go of so you aren't as over-committed? Time is precious, make sure you are filling it with the things most important to you. Busying yourself in the evenings with too many things makes for very late nights. What can you let go of?

Decrease your caffeine. Try enjoying your caffeinated beverages before noon, and no later. We can get into a cycle where we need it to wake up, rely on it all day, then it keeps us up most of the night only to leave us needing it in the morning. Vicious cycle. Nothing after noon.

Increase your water intake. Being fully hydrated allows our body to operate at a higher capacity. This just makes sense. It will literally perk up your cells. It will wake up your brain.

Get off the sugar rise and crash cycle. Eat your balanced nutrition throughout the day to maintain a healthy and steady blood sugar. Eating sugary foods high in refined carbs make us tired. Period. These are the habits that get our systems into cycles of feeling down and tired. Get out by eating well.

Taking control of a few things will get you out of the tired rut in a hurry. You'll be sleeping better and feeling refreshed when you wake in no time. Sleep loss is a tremendous stress on our bodies, doing what we can to counter that keeps us healthy. I'll see you on the other side of tired!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

High Protein Waffles

by Kris Pitcher

Heat up the waffle iron! It's time for some comfort food. And here's a recipe that won't break the nutritional bank. You can just as easily make pancakes too, either way...get ready for breakfast!

High Protein Waffles:

  • 1 C cottage cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 C oil
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
Mix all ingredients in blender or using mixer. Easy-peazy! Top with your favorite fresh fruit, preserves, powdered sugar, or what ever your pleasure. Enjoy your breakfast and have a slow and sleepy morning as you begin to charge up with these high protein waffles.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Your Aorta Is The Size Of A What?!

by Kris Pitcher

You might not spend much time thinking about what's on the inside. So, I thought I'd share this interesting factoid with you. Your aorta is the size of a garden hose. And cue crickets...

Have you noticed the size of your garden hose lately? IT'S HUGE! It's a fist full for sure. Now, imagine that inside your chest cavity and running down to your abdomen. How is this not cool? It is cool. I'm going with that.

The aorta is your largest artery. Arteries carry oxygenated blood for distribution in your body. That's how oxygen is delivered. (You can stop buying that oxygen water now.)

We can think about it in 3 anatomical parts; the ascending aorta, the aortic arch, and the descending aorta. That sort of describes how it branches from our heart. From there it delivers oxygenated blood to our head, torso, and limbs.

It's made up of smooth muscle. We have three kinds of muscle, remember? Smooth, skeletal and cardiac. So, the aorta is smooth muscle, nerves, and other cell types. It's complicated, but I'm simple. Smile...

The next time you're washing your car, or watering the garden...take a look at the garden hose. Imagine the diameter of that inside you. Still crickets? Well, I can't help but think what's going on inside us is pretty remarkable. Amazing really. And now you know a little more about what's happening on the inside!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tricks Of The Nutrition Trade!

by Kris Pitcher

Making nutrition work for you is complicated and has a number of components. Some are tricky, like just exactly what you should eat, in what amounts and when. And others fall more into the "tricks of the trade" category.

If you've fallen off the wagon of eating what's on your's a good time to talk tricks of the trade. Stand in your kitchen - what do you see. The vantage point might look OK. But throw open the pantry door. Now how does it look?

Spring has come and gone, but that shouldn't stop us from cleaning out the pantry. Take those half empty boxes of crackers, the expired crisp taco shells, the last of the bran cereal no one will eat and let those things go. Anything with "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredient list - bye bye! All those partially used bags of pasta...combine those into one bag or container that you can see into.

Organize your like items together in a system that makes sense for you. Cans in one place, spices in another, teas/drinks, dry goods, grains etc. If you need to see things find a stacking container system. And oh my gosh get rid of all those plastic containers that don't match. A lid with no bottom, seven cool whip containers. We're getting organized here!

Fill the pantry with things ON YOUR PLAN. If chocolate crispy cereal isn't on your plan...guess what? It shouldn't be in the pantry. Not even "just for the kids". The kids can eat Cheerios or Chex, they'll turn out just fine.

This will save you time and money. It saves you time because now you are organized and you can actually see what your options are when you're trying to prepare something. It saves you money because you know what you have and you stop buying the same thing over and over because it's buried.

Now you can stock the pantry with the right items. With just a few essentials you can create a healthy meal in no time. Remember that you are responsible for what comes into the house. Create a successful and organized environment - it's a trick of the nutrition trade!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Objectivity, Have You Lost it?

by Kris Pitcher

I wouldn't call it an epiphany, but as I sat down tea in hand at the local coffee house to have my weekly (early) morning chat with a friend...I realized - I didn't even LOOK at the pastries. It was as if they did not exist. This is no big box coffee place. They have home made, good pastries. I have lost my lust for carbs.

As I reflected on this loss (happy dance), I thought about other things I've lost along the way. As I've made progress, I've lost one other crucial thing - objectivity. My sense is I am not alone, and I know this because other people don't see their progress either.

What we see in the mirror is often clouded by old associations of who we used to be. It's clogged up by body-image issues we are unable to let go of. Or it's just that we see ourselves every single day, and we no longer recognize the small changes we are making.

Have you lost your objectivity? Please don't go ask your spouse or partner, "Honey, do I look fat in this?" That isn't what I'm suggesting here.

But you might want to ask someone you love and trust how they see you. Ask them if they see changes in you. Or start believing them if they've been telling you all along.

One of the things that happens to competitors during preparation for a contest is you lose objectivity. It happens to everyone. I'm blessed to have an excellent trainer and other competitors around me who understand this. Knowing it myself allows me to plan for it. I can sort of "give it up" and trust my trainer.

Finding your objectivity means trusting what people close to you are telling you, and looking closely at who you see in the mirror. The you you have become now. Looking at yourself objectively isn't always easy, sometimes we just need to take a step back to see ourselves.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sticky Floor? Take Your Shoes Off

by Kris Pitcher

In the career world we hear the term, glass ceiling. It refers to the invisible barrier keeping some from reaching the upper limits of the corporate ladder regardless of how accomplished they might be. There are invisible barriers all around us relative to our health and fitness pursuits as well.

Many of those are self imposed. Our heads are full of the "I can'ts" which drive our actions away from what we say we want. The problem isn't so much a glass ceiling, but that you may be keeping yourself on a sticky floor.

When I heard it phrased this way I had to share it with you. It's a perspective changing way to look at it. What are you doing to keep yourself planted on a sticky floor?

Are you carrying old ideas? Have you forgotten you have choices? Did you give up on your dreams? Or did you just forget to put one foot in front of the other day in and day out. It's easy to look at someone who is having success with their plan and think they have something special - something you don't have.

They don't. They simply clarified their values, turned them into goals, and worked toward them step by step. And then they kept doing it. They fed off their success creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Positive reinforcement.

Sometimes if the floor is too sticky, we just need to take our shoes off. Get a fresh start by letting the rest go. Clean the floor, clean your feet, start over. There is no glass ceiling, and you're the only one in charge of keeping your feet anywhere.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Squat, Our Powerhouse Move!

by Kris Pitcher

The power group making up your back side is your glutes, hips, quads, and hamstrings. The squat is a compound, closed-chain exercise. A compound exercise involves more than one joint, and more than one muscle group.

In this case we're working with both the hip and knee joints, and with multiple muscle groups. These joints and muscles are part of a kinetic (motion/energy) chain. In this case, your feet will be planted in a fixed position creating a "closed chain" exercise. If your foot were free to move, as in a leg extension, it would be an "open chain" movement.

Closed chain exercises are more stable than open chain exercises in terms of joint stability. See the difference?

The squat is our powerhouse move! Because it brings so many muscles into play, we are maximizing efficiency. If you had time for one lower body exercise, this would be the one.

One great thing about the squat is there are so many variations. We'll look at a body weight squat. No equipment necessary!

Start with your feet shoulder width apart, arms at your sides. Your toes should be just slightly turned out. With your abdominals pulled in toward your spine, inhale as you release from the hip and "sit". Lower your body no more than 90 degrees, extending your arms in front of you for balance, exhale as you press through your heels to return to standing position.

Variations are limitless. The body weight squat is a great starting place. If you have knee, hip, back, ankle or other injuries/issues you should always consult your personal trainer, in conjunction with your physician before adding anything to your routine.

Working the muscles of the lower body is critical to living independently as we age, to maintaining our fat burning lean body mass, and to having a booty-luscious backside. These are the largest muscles in our body, and this powerhouse move hits them all!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Intimidation or Inspiration?

by Kris Pitcher

There is a misunderstood "fragility" around regular people when it comes to athletes or competitors of any kind in a gym. A gal was telling me about an athlete at her big box gym. This athlete will be going to Kona to compete in the Ironman. This is a big deal, Kona's invitational.

The lady telling the story does her physical therapy in the pool every morning. Some days, she walks with more pain than others. Her quality of life is dependant on her doing her therapy, amongst other things. She said this triathlete was in the pool doing some tremendous amount of meters - I don't even know how many... a lot.

She said, "If she can swim all those meters, surely I can do my therapy every day." She asked me why the big box gym didn't advocate for her by putting her in the newsletter, on the website or somehow sharing her inspirational story. Hmm? Good question.

The challenge is, gym X thinks athletes like this nondescript lady who's been invited to compete in Kona are intimidating to this regular exerciser doing her therapy. Now, this athlete likely has a full time job, a family and all the responsibilities the rest of us do - plus she's an Ironman athlete. I call inspirational.

In all fairness, maybe the big box gym doesn't know about her. Sometimes athletes are modest. But from experience I would say the voice of a few who might be intimidated speak for the many who find themselves inspired by people like this Ironman athlete.

This is my opinion, we're not all that fragile. I think we are inspired by the success of others. We are encouraged to see someone pursue their dreams, to push their limits, and to check things off their life list. Intimidated? Change your lens and take another look.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bottoms Up! Dairy Milk Alternatives

by Kris Pitcher

I recently read seventy-five percent of the population is, or has at some point been, lactose intolerant. Lactose is the disaccharide (two) sugar made up of galactose and glucose found in dairy products, like milk. Many people have a difficult time processing this sugar, termed intolerance.

There are many reasons why someone wouldn't want to drink milk besides lactose intolerance. People choosing a vegan, or vegetarian lifestyle. Anyone who has celiac disease - which is an allergic reaction to gluten where it destroys the lining of the small intestine. Although milk doesn't have gluten in it, some other dairy products may and it can often be easier to have a dairy free diet.

Soy has been the dairy free alternative of choice for a long time for those seeking a substitute. But there's another really good choice for you to consider. And there are some things the scientific community is beginning to learn about soy that may make it a better choice for some than others.

Let's take a look at almond milk. Almond milk is made from crushing almonds, much like soy milk is made from crushing soy beans. For comparison I looked at Almond Breeze Unsweetened, and Silk Soy Milk. Cup for cup here's the break down.

Almond milk has 68 calories per cup; 8 gm carbs; 3.5 gm fat; 1 gm protein
Soy milk has 92 calories per cup; 8 gm carbs; 4 gm fat; 6 gm protein

Now, if we ONLY looked at the caloric profile - we might pick the soy based on protein. But we have to look deeper. The almond milk has omega 3 & 6 fatty acids. These unsaturated essential fatty acids provide anti inflammatory protection against cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and depression. The omega 6's help to reduce bloating associated with PMS, maintain healthy skin, hair and nails, and help us maintain hormonal and emotional balance. A healthy balance of omega 3:6 ratio is critical for metabolic function at a cellular level. This alone should have you reaching for almond milk.

The first thing to point out about the soy milk's fat content is it's profile is different. It has 2.5 gm of polyunsaturated (omega 3 & 6), but the rest (1.5 gm) is monounsaturated (which acts like a saturated) and saturated fats. We don't get the same benefits. All fat is not equal.

One of the benefits of soy has been thought to be it's phytoestrogens. Soy sterols called isoflavones are similar to estrogen and bind selectively to estrogen receptors. It's thought these may be helpful during menopause as well as in protecting against cardiovascular disease. The scientific community is not in agreement about whether this is beneficial or not.

There are many studies out there, and much more research to be done. One thought is the soy sterols may interfere with progesterone during pregnancy. Another is it may counteract the effects of chemo and tamoxifen therapy and women with breast cancer should avoid it. Obviously, these are decisions to be made with your health care team.

As with any nutritional choice, there are value issues and information issues. The beauty is...there are choices and alternatives. So the next time you stop to get your - double tall, half-caff, one pump sugar free vanilla, latte - think about adding almond milk! Bottoms up!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why Work Is Making You Fat

by Kris Pitcher

Don't go quiting your day job...but work just might be making you fat. Stressful and unpredictable, I like to call it "dynamic and character building". The truth is most of us are over stretched and way over stressed.

One of the challenges is we've come to expect more with less. With an unstable economy, "grateful" comes to mind each day as I approach my work. The reality is the workforce has downsized, but the workload has not.

We also have technology to thank for making our jobs easier. It has, on the other hand made us instantly accessible for ongoing crisis situations all day long. Like when there's cake in the break room. We need an email for that. Information overload causes stress, interrupts our work and makes it difficult to focus on anything for longer than three minutes.

Good intentions to leave at lunchtime for our afternoon re-charge at yoga class, or a walk get sabotaged by some one's crisis deadline which has now become your top priority. It's a challenge to maintain boundaries.  

Long meetings where no one eats, drinks or moves for four or more hours leave me wondering about deep vein thrombosis. Not to mention they make me want to go out of my mind. All of these things mean too much stress, not getting your meals in, and guess're midsection is super sized.

A couple of things can help without ostracising you from the culture of the workplace. Managing email is the big one. Check your email once every two hours, and not more. If some one has a red exclamation mark issue - they might need to pick up the phone.

Bring your meals. Not just to work, but to epic meetings as well. Against the culture? Excuse yourself to the restroom and take your big purse. You'd be surprised how fast I can down a portion of protein out of a baggie in a stall. Hey, I'm not proud but I need to feed these muscles.

Drink your water, take your lunch break away from the office and try not to over caffeinate. Stay organized, control what you can control, be a good grateful.

Creating and maintaining boundaries at work is one of the most difficult things to manage. If you're not doing it, it's why work is making you fat.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Aging Gracefully Is Over-Rated

by Kris Pitcher

My husband and I have worked out together for years. It's sacred time that brings us closer. It's time when we connect, when we're in tune with one another. Nearing the end of our back workout this week he was gazing at me kind of intensely. I was waiting for him to say something poetic, encouraging...kind of romantic maybe.

"Your hair looks kinda green under these lights," he said. Now, I am a dirty-dish watery blond...I'll give him that. And those of you who have been Bliss readers for a while know that I, upon turning my hair green prior to marrying him, made a promise never to chemically treat myself again.

I recalled his attention to the expense in coloring my hair, and let him know I was planning to color it just before our bodybuilding show. I've made a valiant effort at aging gracefully. I certainly cannot go against nature with this curly hair. Sure a flat iron here and there will do wonders, but with two, or three workouts a day...we're goin' native!

When we got home I asked him if it still looked greenish, or if it had just been the slightly unbecoming lights at the gym. He thought it still did and maybe I was getting a few more greys...hmmm. Could I be eating too much broccoli?

So, screw aging gracefully, saving money, or going native with the hair color. I've got to get right on this! I'm thinking some highlights, some low-lights, give me foils or give me death! Well, OK maybe not death. But these curls are joining the masses. Can I get a heck yeah?!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

No More Excuses!

by Kris Pitcher

If people heard, or read, what comes out of their mouths in resistance to exercising and eating right...they'd just have to laugh. We spend a lot of energy justifying why we can't do things. Thinking up new ways to put roadblocks in front of ourselves is exhausting.

I can't eat right because I'm having a lunch meeting. I'm pretty sure the menu has a good choice on it - if you're willing to make it.

I can't exercise because I have to get the kids to school. Good try, except you could get up before the kids do. Or you could get them off to school and then exercise. We all have to figure out how to plan the same 24 hours in our day.

Excuses are just our way of rationalizing not being ready to commit to ourselves. And frankly, you don't have to do this for anyone else. So stop making excuses. If you're not ready, you're not ready. Fine by us.

I was enjoying my sunny lunchtime walk the other day when a man coming the other way inspired me. He was clipping along at a good pace. He had a big smile across his face and the breeze was kind of blowing his longish yet clean cut hair. Hitting the pavement with each step his running shoes told me he meant business. Outstretched in front of him was his white cane, this man was blind.

Yet there he was, out there on the trail exercising! No excuses! He wasn't about to let his visual impairment hold him back from enjoying the sunshine, the slight breeze, the community of walkers out on the trail, or from getting his exercise. I realize we each have our limitations. But seriously, what excuse do you have? 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Derailed By Your Diet!

by Kris Pitcher

Things were going really well. Your diet was kicking in and it was working! You were like young lovers - enchanted, motivated, exclusive...even a little tingly inside.

But then after a while, it stopped working. Maybe you weren't exactly "exclusive" anymore. You started to go out on the side a little. Don't feel bad, it happens every time.

Your diet derailed you more so than you derailed your diet. It was too strict. Telling you to cut out entire food groups. To eat only 700 calories. To pair this with only that. Please!

After a while, you just couldn't live within it's confines. And that's the problem with diets.

I don't have to tell you the answer isn't in the latest diet book. You already know that. The answer is in the basics. We've had this conversation before. Plenty. Of. Times.

Move a lot more. Eat a well balanced plan which you can live with. Get straight with your goals and values so your choices feel like choices, not mandates. Be realistic about the number of calories your body needs to sustain or lose weight. (You're not a linebacker.) And cut yourself some slack.

Being derailed by your diet is inevitable...skip the steamy love affair and go back to the basics - you know what works!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Find Your Good Mood

by Kris Pitcher

There is something very meditative about the rhythmic movements of cardio exercise. Stay with me here. You know I am not the person who jumps out of bed at 5:00 AM with a smile on my face ready to hit the treadmill. Yet I do it every day. Why?

It makes me feel good. In fact, I think I need to do it for my sanity. It's in those rhythmic movements where I clear my head, think about the day ahead, solve the problems of the world, and stare off into the mountains to the south east. It makes me a better person.

The benefits of exercise aren't just the cardiovascular benefits to your heart and lungs, the calorie expenditure, or the endurance training. It can be where you find your good mood. Your body releases your feel good chemicals to set you up for a great day. I am always happy when I'm done.

There are very few times during the day when you are with your own thoughts. Most of the day you are doing for others...but your cardio time, is for you. I love that. Call me crazy but once I give myself the pep talk to get started, I'm good to go.

Enjoy the movement of your body, the cycle of your breathing, the calm of your mind and the respite you get from the world while you are exercising. This is truly sacred time. Give yourself a gift and go find your good mood!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Endocrinology - It's What's Happening!

by Kris Pitcher

When we spoke about nutrient timing I said our hormonal environment was primed for progress. I thought it might be a good idea (aka super exciting in a geeky fashion) to talk about what those hormones are and what their role is. Get your pencil pocket protectors out! We're heading to endocrinology 101!

Hormones are chemical messages which effect our cells. They tell our bodies to do certain things. There are hormones which effect our sexual function, reproduction, our mood, metabolism, and our growth & development. We're going to talk about the last two.

Metabolism and growth and development will be the topic for the day as it relates to exercise. Further, we can break those out into two categories; catabolic, and anabolic. And just to refresh our memories: catabolism means breaking down in metabolism; anabolism means building up or synthesizing in metabolism.

Let's look at the hormone, it's exercise response, and it's function in the body. Here we go! Our catabolic hormones include epinephrine, which increases with moderate to intense exercise. It's job is to increase glycogen breakdown (think catabolic metabolism, we are breaking down stored nutrients - glycogen - for use). Next is norepinephrine, it also increases with moderate to intense exercise. Norepinephrine increases our fat breakdown, increases our heart rate response and our glycogen breakdown.

Two more to go in our catabolic category. Glucagon which increases with prolonged exercise. It's job is to increase gluconeogenisis. Big word, but when we break it down it's easy. Gluconeogenisis is the formation of glucose from noncarbohydrate sources - meaning amino acids. Remember your latin class? Gluco (glucose), neo (new), genisis (begining)...big easy word. The last hormone in this category is cortisol. Cortisol increases with intense prolonged exercise (it also increases with stress). It decreases glucose uptake and promotes fatty acid breakdown.

You're doing great! Did you know there was so much going on in your body when you were exercising? Let's look at the next group, the anabolic hormones. Recall anabolic means building or synthesizing in metabolism. Let's build!

Insulin is a hormone we've all heard of. It decreases with exercise and it's job is to increase glucose, amino acids and fatty acid uptake. Testosterone is next which increases with exercise. It controls muscle size, increases red blood cells and decreases body fat. Don't worry ladies. you're body won't just make more because you start exercising. As you know, we have limited levels compared to men.

Growth hormone is next which increases with exercise response. It's role is to stimulate testosterone, mobilize fatty acid for energy, decrease glucose uptake, and increase gluconeogenisis. You can see hormones work together to get things done. IGF-1, or insulin growth factor 1 is stimulated by growth hormone and it's role is to stimulate growth.

Ok, there isn't a pop quiz! But you can see there is a lot going on in your body hormonally in response to exercise and knowing there are hormones that break cells down and build cells up through the process of metabolism is just important knowledge for you to be aware of.

Being informed helps you know why it's important to eat when you need to eat, exercise, get adequate rest etc. If it sparks an interest I hope you'll seek more information. If it gets you to make sure you get your post-workout meal within 30 minutes...well I'll just feel all warm inside!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Sour Puss Saboteur

by Kris Pitcher

What is with the sour puss saboteur? You know the one...the person who just can't seem to get on board with your success. The person who despite your every effort, seems to want to throw a wrench in your plan.

Sabotage can be self-inflicted or put in our path by people around us. And surprisingly, it's often our loved ones who become the worst offenders. So just how do we deal with the saboteur?

First of all it's helpful to be on the lookout. Being watchful for comments and actions which aren't in your best interest helps you identify who's looking to sabotage your efforts. I don't necessarily think people mean to do it on purpose...I think it's just in their nature to pull people down who are succeeding.

Next, call it like you see it. I find it best to be direct rather than to passively accept comments. For instance, a comment from a spouse like, "This new 'exercise thing' is really taking up a lot of your time. I sure hope this isn't going to last long this time." Now, I can imagine a number of scenarios playing out here. But keep in mind your goal is to communicate what's important to you.

A reply such as, "You're right honey, regular exercise is important to me and has become part of my lifestyle - it's going to take the place of other things I used to fill my time with. I hope my health is important to you too." You've called your spouse out on their "dig" at you, stated what's important, made it clear you plan to continue, and let them know you hope what is important to you is also important to them.

If it's not...well that's a whole other situation. Usually the saboteur is simply feeling left out, and left behind. Seeing someone else succeed while you're not is difficult. It can be helpful to share your success with them if they are open to change. It's important to let them know you're sticking to your guns, and they can choose to get on board or keep quiet about it. And if they're not?

Leave 'em in the dust! No, really. Sometimes our sour puss friends just suck the good right out of us. Surround yourself with like-minded people, make stronger connections with people you are meeting in class or at the gym. Put yourself out there and begin to build relationships with people who share your path. Don't let the sour puss saboteur stop you from your success!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Nutrient Timing For Performance

by Kris Pitcher

Well what else would it be for?! Nutrient timing is an exciting topic because knowing what to eat is one thing...knowing when to eat is what will put you ahead in the game.

We can think about our day in a couple of important nutrient "time zones" - during exercise, right after, and the rest of the time. Simple. But first, let's talk about what's happening during those times.

When we're exercising we're expending energy. If we think about cardiovascular exercise we are typically using stored carbohydrate during this energy expenditure. Carbohydrate is stored as glycogen in our liver and muscles - so we're using that, or we're using blood glucose. The more intensely we exercise the more our body uses this fuel source. (This is why cardio is the least effective way to burn fat...but we'll save that for another day.)

Right after training we have a window of nutritional opportunity. We have the chance to replenish the glycogen stores, to shift from a catabolic (breaking down), to an anabolic (building up or synthesizing via metabolism) state, to grow and repair tissue, and to boost our immune system. Our hormonal environment is perfect for growth and repair and this is our chance to make nutrition work for us.

Our insulin sensitivity is improved because we're transporting and storing glucose in our cells. And it's been found that a combination of protein and carbohydrate replaces muscle glycogen faster than carbohydrate alone. This is the reason for the chocolate milk campaign.

The rest of the day is our growth opportunity. Our protein synthesis is elevated for more than 4 hours after our workout and our main goal is to achieve a positive nitrogen balance. We do that by providing enough protein to make gains.

Nitrogen balance referes to nitrogen from protein sources in the diet in relation to nitrogen excreted. If excretion exceeds ingestion, there is a negative balance (associated with infection and trauma). If ingestion exceeds excretion there is a positive balance (associated with pregnancy & muscle growth).

Are you still with me? Endurance trained athletes are going to need a lot more carbohydrates than a typical 45 minute/session exerciser. The take-away is to time your meals in accordance with your activity so you are adequately fueled pre-workout.

And by all means the gem here is the nutritional window of opportunity for post-workout nutrient timing. Getting 20 gms of protein and, for most men 20 gm of carbs, within 15-30 minutes post-workout is a must. Ladies, depending on your goals - your carbs may be closer to none. It's very individualized depending on your goals and your sport. But get your protein in!

Knowing when to eat is as important as knowing what to eat. Nutrient timing will truly take you to the next level in your progress. It will enhance your's the ultimate performance enhancing substance! Now, I'll see you later - I've got to get a meal in!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Your Sweat Arsenal

by Kris Pitcher

The art of freshening up after your mid-day workout, or even mini walk, during the summer requires a sweat arsenal. Having a few things on hand, and knowing a few fresh strategies will keep you from sitting in swamp water all afternoon.

What's in your must have kit?
If you've got shower facilities...well you're covered. But don't leave now, you might find a tip or two to speed up your routine. Most of us don't have access to shower facilities so a little preparation goes a long way.

Being prepared is the name of the game. Changing out of your work clothes is the first order of business. At least put on an over-sized t-shirt. Tight clothes don't breath. We want air to circulate and have a chance to dry the sweat from our bodies. Your tight tank looks cute, but I can see it's causing a puddle in your lower back is dry. Air. Flow.

A well placed head band will keep your hair back and the sweat from dripping down your face. A no go for your fashion sense? At least take a small towel to dab your temples as you begin to sweat. If you are outside, take advantage of shade and the breeze. Once you're back, grab your bag and head for the restroom.

In your bag you should have your work clothes to change back into. But before you do, a wet wipe goes a long way to freshening up. You should have a kit with a travel sized deodorant, wet wipes, pre-moistened facial cloths, and dry shampoo (they are popular again and easy to find). A fresh clean pair of undies will make the rest of your day feel much better, and sans that a pantyliner will keep things a little drier.

Wearing less makeup in the summer is a nice thing if you are comfortable with it. A cool wash in the sink with your pre-moistened facial cleaning cloth followed by a quick swipe of tinted moisturizer and some lip gloss and nobody will know the difference.

You can make yourself a hair spritz by mixing 2/3 water, 1/3 rubbing alcohol in a spritz bottle with 5-10 drops of an essential oil of your choice. A few sprays and a comb, or a swipe with your fingers and your hair will make it through the afternoon. It will smell prettier than sweat too.

For me the key is to get my shoes and socks off quick and get myself cooling down. Honestly, I've found with my sweat arsenal I can freshen up just fine and nobody is the wiser about my mid-day exercise! And I can check it off my list!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

RICE Review

by Kris Pitcher

I don't know if you've noticed it...but it's weekend-warrior season. Summer weather sends the masses out into the wilderness, or where ever they go, in pursuit of recreation.

Monday comes and people hobble into work with various injuries. A pulled this...a sprained that. Typically tissue and muscle damage affect the weekend warrior. Injury to tendons, ligaments and therefore joints will have usually landed them in the emergency room.

I thought it might be appropriate to have a RICE review. We're not talking about carbohydrates here. We're talking about Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It's our first line of defense when we've gone too far.

Rest doesn't mean keep water skiing for the rest of the weekend. It means stop what you are doing. As in, discontinue the activity. This is a difficult concept. But I know you're smart. You get it. Please tell me you get this?

Ice is next. Icing reduces the spread of inflammation. Injury can actually spread via inflammation. We want to get it under control. Always have a barrier between your skin and the ice pack. Ice for 20 minutes on/off in cycles. We want to keep this going for 72 hours. This doesn't translate into, "get into the hot tub". Controlling the inflammation right away will have you on the road to recovery faster. Always use a barrier.

Compression. Wrapping the area with an ACE bandage works nicely. It's important to compress, not constrict. Many of the new ice packs come in neoprene sleeves which act to compress at the same time. Love those! We always have these in the freezer at our house.

E is for elevation. Elevating the arm or leg above the level of the heart is especially important in an acute injury. At the onset of an injury we want to reduce swelling and blood pooling in the area.

Now you know how to treat an injury in the first 72 hours. It's important to begin RICE treatment at the onset, and as ongoing treatment of a soft tissue injury. Get out there and have some fun. Just be prepared and know how to handle an injury situation. That's your - RICE review!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Walk Your Booty Off!

by Kris Pitcher

A simple way to add some punch to your program is by adding walking. Walking is great exercise! There's no better time to sneak in some extra exercise than over the lunch hour. So lace up and let's go!

Walking burns about 4 calories per minute and in the course of a week you can add up quite a few extra minutes. Find a route where you can head out for 15 minutes or more. Strolling is nice for stress relief, but we are looking for about a 3 mph pace here.

If you're in the city, just try to keep moving when you hit a red light. Simply cross in the other direction and keep moving. Neighborhoods are nice, and paved trails are sublime!

Focus on your gait. Putting one foot in front of the other, walking heel to toe and squeezing through your glutes as you push off. Mind-body connection makes all the difference to your booty!

If you can find just 15 minutes during your day to walk, you will have burned an extra 300 calories between Monday and Friday. You'll likely be more productive at work too! Tear yourself away from work and take your lunch break.

In no time you'll be over your latest hurdle! Making progress means making time for additional work. Make the most of your day by squeezing extra exercise in here and there. Squeeze your glutes too! It all adds up as you walk it off!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Go Get Your Success!

by Kris Pitcher

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." 
-Theodore Roosevelt

We're in a rush. For most of us, there's really no time frame we need to have this figured out in. We're not in a race, on a reality show, or going for a record. We are simply in a hurry because we have finally decide.

Yet, we're really hard on ourselves. We feel like we need to be perfect, like we need to do everything right. The first time. No mistakes. You've heard it from me before - we are not perfect. We do make mistakes. And that's just fine.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. What a smart statement. Putting all the pieces together perfectly all the time...doesn't always happen. But that doesn't mean you should just throw caution to the wind and give up on yourself.

It means you should control what you can, where you can...when you can. There will be times when you'll have everything in line, organized and under control. Other times, not so much.

I have been personally practicing weight management for 18 years (I'm getting pretty good at it!) and by all means it has ebbed and flowed over the years. I don't need to be in a hurry because I know I'll continue to practice as long as I want it to work. For the rest of my life.

Deal with where you are. Not where you wish you were, or some other fairytale place. Give yourself permission to be where you are. You'll have the freedom to move forward. 

You will put all the pieces together, this lifetime. And you have plenty of time to do it. By doing what you can, with what you have, where you are - you truly are breaking each component down and focusing on your success. Now, go get your success!  

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence From Average

by Kris Pitcher

I recently heard a statistic stating the average American consumes 570 more calories per day today, than in 1977. We certainly have more access to more food. Our portion sizes have grown and it's no wonder we have an epidemic on our hands.

The USDA, according to their general survey, claims the average American consumes 4,270 calories per day. Now, I know most of us are not average.

An extra 570 calories per day will run you just shy of 4,000 extra calories in a week. One flabby pound per week my friends. I know I'm capable of doing that on a vacation, or even a long weekend...I've done it!

When I go to the grocery store, I'm reminded how very not average I am. Looking into shopping carts around me, I see a world of items that never make it into my home. A sea of choices I haven't made for years. I also realize I am the minority.

The numbers are staggering though, and if we think about the number of calories a typical active woman in her 40's should eat - between 1,600 to 2,000 depending on how active she is - that is way below "average". It's no wonder we are struggling.

Journaling where you are is a great place to start. You can't make a plan if you don't know where you are starting from. Once you know how many calories you are taking in on average, you can make changes. The reality is most people are moving through their lives blind to it. Numb to it. For a lot of different reasons.

Now that restaurants are required to provide nutrient information, it's certainly more clear and easy to make choices. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction. Education is key, as is having the presence of mind to care about what you're putting in your body is a major leap too.

Find Independence from average in this area of your life. I know I have, and one by one...maybe we'll make a difference.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Worried On Weigh In Day?

by Kris Pitcher

Stripped down, I take my glasses off before stepping on the scale on Saturday mornings. The house is quiet, I'm the first one up. I feel a mix of anxiety and excitement...of trepidation and at the same time wanting to know. It's body composition day.

Since this isn't something I can do alone, I take my weight measurement...and wait for my husband to wake up, and have his coffee so he can do my body comp. Worried? Well, definitely mixed feelings. This is a routine we go through each week to measure progress.

Progress is a slow process. And each week, especially on weigh in day, I wonder, "Have I done enough this week?" "Did I do enough cardio?" "Is there anything more I could have done?" But each week I have to rest assured, I've given my all. I've done the work.

The challenge is progress is not linear. If I do everything just right I'm not guaranteed to lose a percentage of body fat. I can't count on losing a certain amount of fat each week. The body is much more sophisticated than that. Which is why we measure. We measure so we can adjust. One week might be great, and the next is a "stall" week where your numbers stay the same.

Things are either right on track. Or we can make some adjustments based on my body's response to my plan. My trainer can adjust my nutrition, or my cardio - or both to elicit the response we want.

Keeping that straight in your head is part of the game. Stepping on the itself is not enough to show me I've done the work. I don't want to lose weight. I want to lose fat. There's a big difference. See?

So, I'll be patient while he has his coffee. After all, we want accuracy in measurements. Then we'll see how my week went. Now I've got just 13 weeks to go until contest time! I know I've done the work, so I have no worries on this weigh in day!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Picnic Panic!

by Kris Pitcher

There will be potato salad, macaroni salad, cole slaw...chips, and crackers and layered dips - oh my! It's time for picnic panic! You can do this! You can go to the picnic or barbecue and handle yourself without plunging your face in the bowl of macaroni salad, or in the beautifully frosted cake with the sparklers poking out of the top!

But you need a plan and you need it now. We need to start with a deep breath. You are going to be OK. I promise. First of all, you are in control. You are. Trust trust you!

Believe it or not, there are things at the party you can have. Your success begins before you go. Eat your meals on schedule through the day, and just before you go. Now you are ready to celebrate with control.

Once you're there, remember you are there to socialize and have a good time with friends and family. We usually forget that part as soon as we see the twelve layer dip. Or Aunt Sylvia who sends us straight to the cooler of adult beverages. Keep your cool. You are in control.

Look for healthy snacks. The veggie platter is your friend as long as you can skip the dip. Fruit in moderation, especially look for watermelon, wonderful choice. You know to stay away from all the processed carbs - chips, crackers, cookies, baked goods etc. These are full of sodium, fat, preservatives, processed sugar and flour. No brainer.

If there's a meal, eat some salad greens and protein. Remember you've eaten your meal before the party so this is celebration and participation. You're not going to waste away if there's nothing you want to eat. A hamburger patty without the bun - great! A piece of grilled chicken, nice choice. Barbecues are great for those of us watching what we eat...believe it or not!

Bring treats you can have. Sugar-free Popsicles, sugar-free jello, and diet soda are great items to bring to a party. You will know there are treats you can have. Having your plan in mind BEFORE you go to the picnic or barbecue will help you be successful once you are in that situation. Don't panic, you're in charge!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Get It Together

by Kris Pitcher

Many of us are looking forward to a long weekend! Those of us state side will be celebrating the Fourth of July with barbecues, camping trips and all the fun that goes along with them.

Your anxiety about those upcoming situations might be rising, and you may not even realize it's time to get your plan together! Hopefully, you've been treating yourself well as you've been heading into the weekend. This means doing your cardio, eating your plan, and drinking your water.

Summer days mean long gatherings of friends and family. If you're traveling, think about how you might work a walk into your day. While you might not be able to get your full workout in at the lake, you can certainly get out of the beach chair for a walk. A couple of these a day and you'll have kids trailing you on bikes, and friends and family wanting to join you.

Plan ahead for your meals as well. You can just as easily pack good choices in the cooler as questionable ones. Just because you're doesn't mean you have to eat garbage. Do the prep at home and store foods in zipper bags, and you'll be stir frying at camp gourmet style with very little mess to deal with. Think ahead.

Get your plan together so you can enjoy the long weekend and stay, somewhat, on track. Enjoy the celebration knowing you've got it together!