Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Contest Prep On The Road

by Kris Pitcher

Can you stay on track when you're traveling? Oh, yes you sure can! I am a consummate contest prep traveler and my recent business trip put all my skills to the test.

It begins with finding the right place to stay. I prefer a hotel where I can have a mini refrigerator and a microwave. If they have a fitness "center" that's a bonus too. Center means room with a few pieces of cardio in it. But it will get your day started. This preference means I don't stay at the Hilton.

Next, know your neighborhood. Get online and find a grocery store,  and a gym - the basics. Now it's time to get in the kitchen before you leave home and do some work. Food prep is essential. Take it with you or you're stuck. For me, at this stage in the game...I want food I can control. The hotel does a complimentary breakfast where I could get an egg white omelet. But, I want to know exactly how many eggs, how it's cooked, with what etc.

I prepped my meals by cooking, weighing and bagging them. (You might want to buy stock in zipper bags.) Then they go in the deep freezer. I froze one day's worth. The remaining half day on one end of travel was packed in my Pyrex containers just like I'd take meals to work. The half day on the other end, bagged and ready.

Frozen veggies - I grabbed those too. So, now I've got essentially everything I need for my trip. I have a soft-sided cooler which I can carry over my shoulder. It fits under the seat in front of me on the plane. I put the frozen bags in there, all the others, the veggies, the meals in Pyrex, and throw a few small ice packs on top.

I pick the small ice packs because I'm going to fit them in a small lunch bag sized thermal bag that I'm also bringing along. With that I can throw up to three meals in the car, or in my bag for "on the go". I am all set for a full day of meetings and visits. You have to think ahead and be prepared.

You can always pick up a salad, or get veggies on the road. But having exactly what you need requires planning and packing ahead. I'm all set for two and a half days of contest prep eating on the, I hope I packed my underwear!?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Number One Diet Mistake!

by Kris Pitcher

There are a lot of diet mistakes. But there's one that's sure to stop you in your tracks. So for now, we're calling it the number one diet mistake. People do this all the time. They do it over and over.

We give up when we screw up. I've been up front with you all along. This will not be a perfect process. You are not perfect. You're just not. You will make mistakes. You'll screw up. You're human! Give yourself a break.

Then get back to it. Simple as that. It's the giving up that puts a big hold on things. See, we make a eat something we didn't intend to eat. Let's just say it slipped into our mouths. We ate it, it's done. Next comes the guilt, remorse, and bad feelings.

I'll tell you what. Skip all that. Just skip that part, and get back on track. No one expects you to be perfect at this. Really, we don't. And you shouldn't either. We're going to make mistakes along the way. The difference in successful people (because they make mistakes too) is they just keep going. They don't give up.

You know my only have to do weight management as long as you want it to work. Most of us want it to work forever. We've got time. Plenty of time. As long as we don't give up. Allow yourself to make mistakes and to be human. Don't make the number one diet mistake...don't give up when you screw up!

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Contest Prep Update - A Blissful Choice

by Kris Pitcher

Five weeks out and counting. It must be like when you're pregnant and everyone (everyday) asks you how you feel. They want to touch your big swollen belly, smile in your face and hear all about it.

Same as yesterday. I'm going to eat the same things as yesterday. My morning cardio was awesome, and I can hardly wait to do my evening cardio. I'll muster up the energy to lift...but I'm thinking in my head, "Four more chest workouts - make this one count."

The count down is on. We are hunkered down, focused - crazy focused. We take everything we need everywhere we go. We try to act normal, like normal people. Fit in to normal life. It's an act.

The insomnia this prep is like no other. I toss and I turn and I'm grateful for five hours of sleep. I do a lot of thinking in those hours. The mind is never quiet. I visualize my posing, I solve problems...I wish upon stars.

So as you rub my belly and smile into my face...prep is going well. I'm leaning out, and looking good. I'm excited about the hard work which is being uncovered after a productive off season. The year of eating clean and lifting heavy paid off. I'm even ready to pose in my (tiny) suit.

I'm nervous, excited, and anxious. And why do we do this? We do it to push ourselves beyond limits. To take the stage presenting a physique better than last season. We do it to craft our bodies, to fine tune, to mold and refine. We do it because we don't really like to golf.

As it gets more difficult in the final weeks I remind myself, I do this by choice. I can manage my hobby along with the other things in my life. I will fight off the fatigue, I will rise to the challenge, I am a champion. I compete because I love it. Competing is a blissful choice.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's Called Personal Hygiene!

by Kris Pitcher

Some things are personal. Like personal hygiene for instance. It's personal for a reason. You should be doing these things...IN THE PRIVACY OF YOUR OWN BATHROOM.

I know we all see a lot of things in the car we wish we could un-see. People shave, brush their teeth, floss (even I wouldn't do that), put on their make-up and so on in the car while they are driving no less. I realize we are saving time here, but it's hard to un-see you with your hands jammed up in your mouth making that crazy face.

Now, at the gym we'd expect you to think you were in a more public space than your car. But no. Somehow you think the gym is a good place to take care of things like clipping your nails, picking your skin, your nose or leaving your hang-nails on the counter.

Please don't leave your hang-nails on the counter. You know how your own dirt is OK, but other people's dirt is gross. This is one of those cases. I'll be the first to house could be A LOT cleaner. But, I'm a little short on time, and it's my own dirt.

I would never come to your house and clip and file my nails on your couch. There are certain rules for personal hygiene which some people just don't follow. Hmm. I don't get it.

So, here's your public service announcement: Please take care of personal hygiene in the privacy of your own bathroom, at home. Thank you. You're not 8 years old.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Oatmeal Protein Pancakes

by Kris Pitcher

Start your morning off right with these healthy and delicious oatmeal protein pancakes. This protein powder recipe will leave you full to start off your day with the combination of complex carbs and protein powder, we even like to add a TBSP of peanut butter on top to add some healthy fats to this meal. This recipe comes from Enjoy your morning!


  • 1 cup raw oats
  • 1 scoop Protein Powder
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 packets sweetener
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder


1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for 30 seconds.
2. Pour onto a hot grill and cook like a normal pancake. An optional addition is to add some frozen fruit after the batter is blended.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Spinning - What Comes Around Goes Around

by Kris Pitcher

Each year the fitness industry predicts what trends will be popular. Guess what's coming back around in 2012...spinning! Indoor cycling was huge for a while. Huge!

Classes were packed, instructors were golden and class participants were like caged dogs waiting to get their slot. Studios popped up everywhere, jersey clad clip-clopping cyclists were running rampant through gyms all across the nation. And then...

And then it fell out of fashion, or everyone went back outside to ride. The trend went by the wayside. Now, a trend is different from a fad. A fad comes and goes quickly. Trends have a different bell curve.

Get those Johnny G's dusted off because the prediction in the tea leaves is indoor cycling is coming back. One of the great things about group cycling is you can instruct to a variety of different levels of riders in one class. Everyone doesn't have to ride with the same resistance or cadence. Each person can essentially control their heart rate at a level appropriate for themselves.

You can guide the group through the same type of ride; steady state, interval, maximal, mixed, relaxed, name it. But each person works at their own level. What happened and maybe this is why the classes emptied out, is that it became one big competition to see who could push the hardest. Bad instructor. Bad.

Back in the day, (here we go aging ourselves - or is it just me) I loved instructing cycling classes. The participants loved my classes, thought I was hard-core. They didn't know where my resistance was. It was practically OFF. It was their workout, not mine.

So, what comes around goes around and spinning is making it's come back. Get your padded shorts out and give it a whirl! It might just be the next big thing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Whip Yourself Into Shape!

by Kris Pitcher

"You can't punish yourself into change. You can't whip yourself into shape. 
But you can love yourself into well being." - Susan Skye

We spend a lot of time on the first two...punishing ourselves into change, and whipping ourselves into shape. Somehow those never seem to work. We're left unhappy, dissatisfied...feeling down. And that's where most people spend most of their lives.

"I could never do what you do." I hear that a lot. And I completely understand it and I'd be a fool if I thought anyone would want to. But what I sense when people say that, is they discredit what they could do. They don't believe in themselves. Their approach might be punishment to change.

It's a self defeating outlook. I don't have anything special that other people lack. Oh, don't get me wrong - I've tried to whip myself into shape. This has been a long journey...

I've felt "bad" for eating the wrong things, or for not exercising. But those days are long gone. The longer you do this, the better you get. And the easier it is to love yourself into well being. 

When you do things for other people out of love you get a certain feeling. You feel happy, warm inside, fulfilled...proud and loved. It feels good to make them happy. You know the feeling I mean. 

Caring for yourself in the same way is what this quote is all about - your well being. It isn't about a size, a number, or looking any particular way. It's about the expectation you set for how you will treat you. With love. You deserve nothing less!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

One Size Doesn't Fit All

by Kris Pitcher

One size doesn't fit all. This is certainly true for fitness. There are a lot of ways to get to the same place on this journey toward health and fitness. And one thing I know for sure is there's no shortage of information and advice available at a keystroke.

In my opinion, this is great. It's great because we are each individual. We've got different goals, lives, schedules and likes and dislikes. What is going to work for me isn't necessarily going to work for someone else. It doesn't work that way. Besides, I don't know how much cold fish you want to eat.

Having a multitude of tools in the toolbox is key. Being able to adapt, change, and alter is critical to help people find their success. Our bodies will likely react differently physiologically to the same input. We have to be able to be agile in our application of exercise science along the way.

As you move forward in your can expect things to stop working. What? It's true. The body is really an amazing thing. The input needs to be manipulated. That's why a diet or exercise plan works for a while and then levels off. No one size. The process is dynamic.

We had a great meeting this past weekend with my husband's trainer Todd Scott (remember you don't cut your own hair just because you're a stylist). He's excited about our progress, but each person he works with he treats as an individual. "There is no cookie cutter program," Todd said.

Keep this great advice in mind as you sift through information, build your plan, and move forward with your progress. We are each individual and one size doesn't fit all.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Don't Think Just Lift - No Limits

by Kris Pitcher

I notice something in myself when I train with my coach and training partner. I work harder. A lot harder. Training by myself just isn't the same. There are a couple of things happening worth noting.

Me at Quads Gym!
When you train with someone you can push beyond your limits. Pushing beyond physical limits is an obvious benefit. Having someone to spot you is really important. You've got to be able to trust that person is going to be there for you. Your spotter is there to assist through those last couple of reps, and to make sure you're using good solid form.

Finding that perfect workout partner, or personal trainer is key. It's a relationship that will move your training to the next level. When I lift by myself, I'm kind of stuck lifting what I know I can lift. Without the help of my partner...I'm on my own.

It's the encouragement, and our undeniable urge to please other people though that really makes this work. My coach helps me move past my mental limits in the gym. He helps me not to think...just to lift. I know he's got my back, and I can sort of let it go and just do the work. I always do. That's how you get stronger.  

Lift through your physical and mental limits by finding the perfect personal trainer. You won't believe the value of your partnership and the changes it will make in your workouts. It's amazing what a "no limits" attitude can do.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Good Enough

by Kris Pitcher

We play the "what if" game a lot in our lives. So, what if...and this is going to be a stretch here, but what if you were good enough? I'm not sure if you got the whole gist of that.

What if you were good enough not to feel discounted by others? Not to question whether you deserved something good in your life. What if you believed you were good enough to be rewarded for your hard work, to accept compliments, to stand up for yourself. What if?

It's my theory that something happens in our lives, or things, and our sense of self begins to chip away. We carry that into adulthood - we're fragile, our confidence shot. It's time to take back our confidence. We are good enough.

Listen to the people around you. What are they saying? Those compliments you hear, that's not just lip service. Those things are true about you. It's time for you to accept those truths, and thank the people giving them. Thank you! Say it with me, "Thank you!" (nothing comes after..."but I really didn't deserve that...") Just - Thank you!

There's no need to discount, discredit, or dishonor who you are. You are good enough. It's time to accept and own that. What ever has chipped away at your sense of self can be let go of. You can be done with it.

Here's a what if for you. What if you did own that you are good enough? I can see that you want to, because sometimes you do. Do it more, do it all the time. It's not such a stretch after all.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Are You Open to Opportunity?

by Kris Pitcher

Knock, Knock. Who's there? (play along...) Opportunity. Is opportunity knocking in your life? If it were would you hear it? Being open to opportunities around you means looking, and listening with an open mind.

Things aren't always presented to us in flashing neon lights. It would be easier if they were. Life choices would be easier. "EAT THIS" in neon would kind of take the pressure out of making a lot of decisions.

But I'm not talking about what to eat, when to exercise etc...I'm talking about being open to new ideas and opportunities. We have to have open eyes in order to see them. They don't just fall out of the sky.

Sometimes they're hidden, or they're a few steps away. If we begin to move in a direction they may be just around the corner. By doing what we love, what makes us happy, the things which fulfill our lives...we find those opportunities.

Being open means considering the possibilities. It means quit saying, "I couldn't do that." What if you could? There's your opportunity. Follow your passion and find where it leads you. It might just take you straight to places you never dreamed of. To opportunity!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wish Upon A Star

by Kris Pitcher

When I was a kid we did a lot of wishing upon stars. It had to happen in a very specific way in order for your wish to come true. Upon twilight, looking up at the sky you would find the very first star that caught your eye.

Holding it's gaze you would say, "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight." Then you would silently - perhaps with closed eyes...make your wish.

Pretty sweet...Now, I can't say how many of those childhood wishes came true. And I'm not opposed to admitting I make a wish every now and then as a grown up. I do still have wishes.

For instance, I wish I could fold laundry and walk on the treadmill at the same time. I wish there were four more hours in each day. I wish I could sleep later than 3:30 AM. I wish I could actually sleep on the stepper, not just close my eyes (at least I can't see you looking at me funny).

I wish the weeds would pull themselves. The dishes, you know what they can do for themselves too. I guess that's why I'd like that extra four hours in the day. But the reality is we don't get to wish things to happen...not exactly.

We make things happen. The thing I like about making the wish is you're putting what you want out there for the universe. The wish is about clarifying what you want. And then making it happen for yourself.

You'll hear my update about folding laundry while I walk on the treadmill...I can't help but think that's a good idea. I might be a little bit wrinkled, but I'll be able to check both items off my list! Make your wish and go get it!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Weight Loss Cupcakes!

by Kris Pitcher

Today is a great day to share a "Reader Recipe"! This recipe comes from Gary M (originally from Jaime Eason). Not only a long time friend, Gary is an avid Bliss reader (thanks Big Guy!), and he's doing an amazing job on his weight loss journey.

He's lost over 70 pounds by doing the right things in the kitchen, and this is one example. OK, they're not exactly cupcakes...but they are darn close! Enjoy this great recipe and congratulations to Gary for his continued success!

Meatloaf Muffins
½ tsp   Cumin
½ tsp   Thyme ground
2 tsp    Dry Yellow Mustard
2 tsp    Black Pepper
2 tsp    McCormicks Chipotle Pepper
1 tsp    Salt
1 Cup Quick cooking oatmeal
2 tbsp Garlic
         small onion finely chopped
         Stalks Celery
         Egg Whites
1 ½ - 2 lbs Ground Chicken or Turkey (not cooked but drained of excess juice)
Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl including the Oatmeal.  Add the garlic, onions Celery and mix again.   Finally add the Chicken or Turkey .  Mix with hands until all meat has the spices and veggies mixed in.
Take Muffin sheet with 12-18 capacity spray with choice of nonstick spray
Add Racquetball sized portions to each Muffin spot.
375 degrees F
40 Minutes
Nutritional Facts (per Muffin according to Jamie Eason)
78 cal
2g Fat
4g Carbs
11g Protein

Thursday, August 18, 2011

BCAA? Don't Trip Over Your Acronym!

by Kris Pitcher

What is a BCAA? And do I need that? Now, that's a good question. It depends on who you ask, what they're selling, and who's paying them. I'm not selling anything...and so far no body's paying me. All I've got is my opinion, a bunch of crazy hair and enough knowledge to help you make your own decision.

BCAA stands for branch chain amino acid. I work in higher education and the only place there are more acronyms is maybe the health/fitness industry. So, don't feel silly if you didn't know what a BCAA was. Let's start backward.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are critical components of metabolism and act as precursors in those functions. Some are non-essential, meaning our body can make them out of other ones. Fancy. Others are essential meaning we must get them from the foods we eat. There are 9 essential amino acids and we get them from eating protein.

There are three BCAAs; leucine, isoleucine, and valine (amino acids end in "ine"). These special amino acids have an alphatic side chain with a branch of carbon bound to more than 2 other carbon atoms. No, don't run away!

BCAAs are among the 9 essentials - we need to eat them, our body can't make them from others. These ones especially help us to aid in recovery, prevent protein catabolism, and promote protein synthesis. They are also a precursor for glutamine and alanine.

So, the question is do you need one. I don't know, and I'm not going to make a recommendation. Generally speaking, a diet sufficient in protein sources would provide the essential amino acids required for the average to elite athlete. Many whey products have them added. Read your labels.

My preference is a diet of whole foods vs. replacement foods or shakes. A post workout shake is a vital replacement anyone would recommend and if you added BCAAs that would be an ideal time to have them. Again, lots of varying ideas. You'll have to decide for yourself. At least now you won't trip over your acronym!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reel Yourself In

by Kris Pitcher

If you aren't quite getting the results you might be time to look at things differently. In a lot of cases, we keep doing the same things but we expect different results.

It doesn't work that way. If we keep doing the same things, we're going to keep getting the same results. And when that's a big ol' nothing. Well, that's what you're going to get.

So, if you haven't quite gotten around to the minimum requirement for cardiovascular exercise...your 2 days a week for 20 minutes isn't going to get you down a size.

See what I mean? This is the kind of behavior that makes people crazy. But if we stop and think about it in an honest makes sense. If the recommendation is to do 30-60 minutes most days of the week to maintain or lose body fat we have to look at what we are really doing. Three times per week at 30 minutes is a great base, but we need to build on it.

And you know I'm going to tell you that's only one piece of the equation. One very small piece. What you do in the kitchen is even more important. Getting clear about your behaviors there will lead you toward your goals. You're waiting for a good time?

There is no good time. The summer is busy and fun, but so is the fall and winter. Life is busy and fun. And so is not feeling like you're being followed by your own behind.

The point is getting your behaviors in line with your expectations is what it takes to make lasting changes. And (broken record) we only have to do it as long as we want it to work. If you've been doing the same things expecting different's time for a change.

You can either change your expectations, or change your choices and behaviors. A little of both is a good idea (we can't all be air-brushed). It's the disengagement from the two that causes don't need that. Don't beat yourself up over this, just reel yourself in.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Java Powered Workouts!

by Kris Pitcher

No doubt there is power in that cup of java. You experience that each morning if you're a coffee drinker, or tea for that matter.  I've been thinking about this topic because caffeine is such a common ingredient in many fat burners. 

And rather than address the question of should you, or shouldn't you take a fat burner - which is a tricky question, I thought I'd address one of the most common ingredients in them. Caffeine. 

It's primary benefit as outlined in the abstract below is it allows the athlete to train at higher outputs, and for longer. The scientist suggests doping with pure caffeine vs. taking in that cup of coffee which may be why it's included in all those fancy colored pills. At least your head gets buzzing...

It's also clear there's more to learn. This is always important to keep in mind. Science is an ever evolving...well, science. The idea is that caffeine enhances fat oxidation and spares muscle glycogen. But it's just a theory. 

So, if you down a cup of joe before your am cardio, you're not alone. And researchers are working to learn more about how and why it acts as an ergogenic aid to athletes. In the meantime enjoy your java powered workouts!   

Caffeine is a common substance in the diets of most athletes and it is now appearing in many new products, including energy drinks, sport gels, alcoholic beverages and diet aids. It can be a powerful ergogenic aid at levels that are considerably lower than the acceptable limit of the International Olympic Committee and could be beneficial in training and in competition. Caffeine does not improve maximal oxygen capacity directly, but could permit the athlete to train at a greater power output and/or to train longer. It has also been shown to increase speed and/or power output in simulated race conditions. These effects have been found in activities that last as little as 60 seconds or as long as 2 hours. There is less information about the effects of caffeine on strength; however, recent work suggests no effect on maximal ability, but enhanced endurance or resistance to fatigue. There is no evidence that caffeine ingestion before exercise leads to dehydration, ion imbalance, or any other adverse effects.
The ingestion of caffeine as coffee appears to be ineffective compared to doping with pure caffeine. Related compounds such as theophylline are also potent ergogenic aids. Caffeine may act synergistically with other drugs including ephedrine and anti-inflammatory agents. It appears that male and female athletes have similar caffeine pharmacokinetics, i.e., for a given dose of caffeine, the time course and absolute plasma concentrations of caffeine and its metabolites are the same. In addition, exercise or dehydration does not affect caffeine pharmacokinetics. The limited information available suggests that caffeine non-users and users respond similarly and that withdrawal from caffeine may not be important. The mechanism(s) by which caffeine elicits its ergogenic effects are unknown, but the popular theory that it enhances fat oxidation and spares muscle glycogen has very little support and is an incomplete explanation at best. Caffeine may work, in part, by creating a more favourable intracellular ionic environment in active muscle. This could facilitate force production by each motor unit.
Keywords: Caffeine, pharmacodynamics; Caffeine, pharmacokinetics; Exercise performance
Document Type: Review article
Affiliations: 1: Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cheat? Who Me?

by Kris Pitcher

As I sat at my desk eating my (cold) fish and broccoli my colleague asked me a great question. She said, "Do you ever cheat on your diet, or do you always stick to it?"

2011 will be better!
The answer was easy for me, but I know it's difficult for a lot of people...competitors included. I know competitors who really struggle. Translation: they find themselves elbow deep in the Adams peanut butter jar with a giant lollipop sized spoonful of naughtiness. Over and over and over again.

They call their coach/trainer in tears and need to be "talked down" or out of their derailment. But this question made me think of a number of things. Foremost, I'm the only one accountable to myself (and I feel very accountable to my coach). I'm also very committed to bringing my best to the stage.

When I begin this process, I am all in. It would be a lot of work to only sort of do your best. While my diet is very strict, I am not starving. I don't feel terribly deprived - I get used to eating what I "get to" eat (because it gets me to my goal). I don't have wild cravings. You already know I look forward to my weekly re-feed meal.

I'm also eating a fair amount of food and I eat frequently. In fact, I eat more than most people around me - just differently. I am also proud of my progress. The progress is motivating and that keeps me on track. It's a big ol' positive reinforcement deal. Behavior begets results, results drive behavior.

I am also driven by the fact that my competition, the dedicated ladies who will be standing next to me on stage, are also doing their best every day...and I want to do better.

"Nope. I never cheat," I said. "I'm the only one on stage in my VERY tiny posing suit on contest day. I'm accountable to that." And I never do cheat. I don't even think about it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Final Stretch - Forgetty

by Kris Pitcher

Friend at the gym: Hey Kris how are you? Me: I'm forgetty. Him: Already?

Forgetty: the state of forgetting what you're supposed to remember, and remembering completely random and slightly nut-jobby stuff.

Yep, already. With seven weeks to go until the contest, I'm finding we (my husband and I) need to work as a team to make sure everyone arrives in one piece. But it's the random, racing thoughts that make competitors feel like they have their own slice of crazy.

"Doesn't anyone else in this meeting have to pee? I wonder if there's a body part in that garbage bag on the side of the freeway. My bra is baggy.  I wish I could sleep. Did I stop at that sign? Why doesn't anyone else ever eat? I hate her because her shoulders are nice and she's wasting it. I need to paint my toes. When should I schedule my hair color? What is that guy listening to? I'm going to have to give up my gum soon. What am I going to wear to my work function next week? What if I don't have any ideas? That dog shouldn't be out. If that car hits me in this cross walk I am screwed for my contest. I wonder what my sister's doing. The couch needs to be vacuumed. My pill box tells me what day it is. I don't think I'm from Shoreline..."

Racing, random, unimportant, crap. It's running through my head - and I'm telling you because I know I am not the only one. I'm not the only one am I?

So, I'll work hard to focus. I'll make lists, organize, and de-clutter. We'll work together to make sure each other is covered, has their keys/phone/pants etc. before they walk out the door. We'll work the routine. The final stretch is here...I can tell because I forgot what this post was supposed to be about.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pizza! Back by Popular Demand

by Kris Pitcher

Back by popular demand! OK, one person asked about this recipe. Well, they didn't exactly ask. I interjected in their conversation at the gym. I'm just a "sharer". And I can't help but share the one meal I love more than anything (not everything honey) right now. This is our weekly cheat, or "re-feed" meal, as my husband likes to call it.

Re-feed sounds very official. The purpose of the cheat meal is to give you a mental break from your diet, and to re-fuel your carb stores. It's all about the carbs. Now, we have a very controlled cheat meal - and a clean one relatively speaking. It's clean because I control exactly what goes into it. Exactly.

This recipe comes from Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix Arizona. A must visit if you are ever in the area. Prepare to wait, every pizza is lovingly hand made, just like mine is at home.

Not only is it hand made, it's hand made the day after arm day. The triceps are nice and sore, and I knead the dough for 8 minutes with love and a slightly salivating mouth. At our house, we top it with tomato sauce, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, Canadian bacon, kalamata olives or some variation thereof. The great thing about pizza is you can use what ever you have on hand.

Once you've kneaded the dough, turn your oven on to pre-heat for an hour. This is commitment. While the dough is rising you can prep your toppings, or get your second session of cardio in. So, you know what I'll be doing tonight. Enjoy making something amazing from scratch!

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's a Love-Hate Kinda Thing

by Kris Pitcher

Sorry sister! Or bro...hmm, that didn't come out right. It's like when your mom says - awesome! It's not awesome...Well, sorry sister but you are not gonna love this every time.

We have these heart-to-hearts every now and then and guess what. It's now. I know you don't feel like it. I know you're down in the dumps. I get that you're tired. Once again I'm here to tell you like it is, and it's like this.

You will not jump for joy every time you "get" to do cardio. "We the people" don't jump out of bed at 4:30 am to do our first session of cardio for the day with an ear to ear grin on our face. Anyone who says they do is crazy or lying.

Having said that everyone who finishes at 5:30 am is smiling ear to ear. We have a love-hate relationship with this process. It's normal not to always feel like doing it whether it's your cardio or your lifting. But guess what? I have never been sorry after. Never!

And I know you haven't either. So get off the sadsy train and get your but in gear. It's time to train like a champion. Your competition is training. Your fellow crusaders in weight management are doing their hard work every day to win the battle. We're all slugging along. Get in the game.

Keep your long term goals in mind and think of your love-hate relationship as little steps you must accomplish to get you there. You have to win the battle over the times when you don't feel like it. Now, drag a** to the gym and put a smile on your face while you do it - it's gonna be awesome!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Road Blocks vs. Big Dreams

by Kris Pitcher

When life throws you a loop, you've got to keep working your plan. There will most certainly always be bumps along the way. Nothing is smooth...sorry to break it to you.

Whether you are training for an event, planning your wedding, trying to get through school...what ever your goal - you'll have road blocks. Hiccups. It's part of life.

The way you handle them, and allow them to affect you determines your ultimate success. Successful people deal with their road blocks. We can use this stress as motivation to buckle down, pull up our bootstraps - or fill in what ever little saying you like. It's our opportunity to continue down our path.

What's the alternative? We could just give up. OK, I give up! I'll just quit. I'll eat cupcakes and stop going to the gym because my schedule got messed up for a day or two.

Now, that wouldn't make sense would it. We do what we can and we keep working toward our goal. Not if, but when something happens to get in the way of our big dream we have to keep going. We have to keep doing the things we already planned to do. Way off track? Guess what...just get back on.

Pick those good habits right back up. We all come across bumps in the road. Being able to work our way through and around them is what makes some of us successful and some not so much. The beauty is you decide your success in that situation. There is always a way around a situation. Always.

Keep working toward your goals no matter how small each step may feel. We're not taking leaping bounds toward our goals...we're taking tiny steps day in and day out. It happens over time. And we've got nothing but time when it comes to making our dreams come true. Get out there and make yours happen!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Keeping Up With the Jonesin'

by Kris Pitcher

When we make changes to our eating plan sometimes we miss the things that don't quite fit in. Instead of saying our goodbyes, casting them away in ceremonial fashion...we replace them.

From sugar-free desserts to flavored water there's a world of what I would call "fake food" out there. Now, don't get yourself in a bunch just yet. These items have their place, and this will be neither a rant nor a bash.

You know when you just get that craving...nothing can quite satisfy it? You MUST have it. I hear people say it all the time, "I'm craving [fill in the blank]!" And virtually nothing will suffice until you get that thing. Not to throw anyone under the bus here, but it's usually our friend the fork-tonged carb.

The challenge with the sugar-free items is two-fold. First, is the chemical messages the artificial sugar sends in our system. A similar insulin response occurs as when we eat actual sugar. Insulin comes along to move sugar out of our blood into storage for later. Our blood sugar drops, we're hungry. It's a bad cycle.

To go along with that, artificial sweeteners are sweeter than sugar - setting us up for stronger taste cravings. So, we've set ourselves up for a taste, and a physiological craving.

The second issue with keeping up with the Jonesin' is we are perpetuating behaviors which won't get us to our goals. This is all relative. Utilizing these items in moderation is a good thing. But having a "fake" dessert with every meal every day...probably overboard. You have to decide where you are in your "use" of this stuff.

Finally, I'll remind you that these products are not calorie free. Your sugar-free gum, crystal light, and all those other items are not calorie free, and they do have sugar in them. They contain sugar alcohols.

We have a joke in my family that fruit is "nature's dessert". When we were in Vegas for the Nationals, we ate out. Sashimi is a legal diet meal so that was our indulgence. After the meal the owner brought us our check and a beautiful slice of orange delicately peeled. I looked at Jacques and said, "Can I eat that?!" (I don't get fruit on my diet.)

"Sure," he said. I slowly took the toothpick pointed toward me and put the slice of orange in my mouth. Saliva rushed from the sides of my tongue as I let the small section roll around. I felt every one of little cells of that orange as the sweetness spread through my mouth. It was as if I'd never tasted an orange before.

What are you missing by keeping up with the Jonesin' eating a bunch of garbage that is supposed to resemble something else? It's easy to get rid of the cravings. Kick the habit and you'll find a whole new experience with food.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cardio Before or Cardio After?

by Kris Pitcher

To do your cardio exercise before or after you lift?

This is a question floating around a lot. The science is clear, but what's foggy is where and to whom it applies. The reality is it applies to a small group of people. We don't all fit into that group. So, let's look at the facts, the science. And then you can decide when to do your cardio.

When we're lifting weights, traditionally, we are anaerobic, which means "without oxygen". In this energy system we are utilizing primarily amino acids for fuel. Why the recommendation to do cardio after we've lifted?

The notion that we have "burned through our carb stores" during our lifting assumes that we are on a low carb diet. The idea is that then we'll burn more fat when we're doing our cardio. Well, most people are not on a low carb diet. They have plenty of carbs in their diet, and plenty of carbs stored in their muscles and liver as glycogen.

Most people store enough glycogen for an 75% heart rate max for 4 hours of continual work (J APPL Phys. 1993 August, 75(2)1019-23. This is why marathon runners need to ingest while they perform. You get the idea...we store a lot.

Same goes for doing our cardio on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. If we are on a low carb, or ketogenic, diet and we've used our stores...this makes sense. If we aren't it doesn't. How many grams of carbs are you eating? This is a good question for you to start with.

So, the recommendation to do your cardio after you lift works for a very few elite or specialized athletes. It doesn't work for people with hundreds of grams of carbs in their diet. Or for people with plenty of stores. When should you do your cardio?

When ever it fits into your schedule. You control which energy system (fat or glucose) you use by how hard you work. How? By monitoring and manipulating your heart rate. When we are working at the low end of our heart rate zone we are burning a larger percentage of fat for fuel. The higher the intensity, the more over all calories but the smaller the percentage of fat. High intensity, more glucose for fuel.

For the competitor at a low body fat percentage trying to get leaner, working at a lower heart rate is better in this case. However, it takes longer. You have to have the time. This is why you see bodybuilders do more time, at low intensity. To burn the fat and spare the muscle.

But for the average person who's goal is to lose weight over all. Their goal is to burn more calories, regardless of whether they come from fat or glucose (carbs). Work at a higher intensity, burn more calories over all.

The golden nugget? If you have the energy to do your cardio after you've lifted, great. Go for it. Know the science and why. Know if you're on a low carb diet, or not. If it works for you to do it at another point in your day... That's fine too. Because for most of us, the science doesn't apply.

Don't get caught up in the minutia unless it applies to you. If you are caught up in it, learn why and ask the questions. Analyze your dietary intake so you know if it means anything to you. Bottom line, do your cardio and monitor your heart rate to know what energy system you are working in. Cardio before or after, you decide.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Who Needs a Pat on the Back?

by Kris Pitcher

With eight weeks until the Night of Champions Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure, Bikini & Men's Physique competition...I thought I should A) Update you on my progress; and 2. Toot my own horn.

My covert dieting began May 1st. As the second born (who had to be scheduled - I like to sleep in), and an Aquarius - I need extra time. Having a healthy and productive off season under my belt, and my belly, I started at 138 pounds and 20.48% body fat. Now, I know you thought you'd never need to actually use math for something cool, but what that means is I had 28.26 pounds of adipose tissue - fat.

Each Saturday my husband and trainer to the stars, Jacques Pitcher, performs a Lange skinfold caliper test on me. And I do one on him just to reciprocate ;) Nothing like two exercise science geeks under one roof. But that's a whole other story. So, we track progress each week. Some weeks...bust. No budge in the overall number. This is why I know I need extra time and an objective coach.

Changes are happening, but they are not always measurable via the scale or calipers. This is why I'm grateful for the "objective eye". I'm fortunate to have a couple of pairs of objective eyes looking at me. Because my own certainly are not. Jacques as my trainer and coach is able to provide that for me. In addition to that, we are able to call in the eyes of his colleague and our friend, Todd Scott.

Todd Scott is a national level bodybuilder and a contest prep coach who has helped turn national competitors pro. Jacques is working with Todd this year to help him take his own training to the next level. Even trainers need a trainer/coach, you wouldn't represent yourself in court if you were a lawyer now would you?

Since May I've lost a total of 6.78% body fat, or 10.15 pounds of fat. So, 8 weeks out I'm sitting at 13.7% body fat and 132.25 pounds. I'm feeling good about my progress, and good about the next eight weeks. I'll be able to take my body fat lower than I've been able to in previous contest preps. This is the beauty of staying leaner off season, and in doing this more times.

Five days a week I'm doing 1.75 hours of cardio. I split that up in 40/45/20 increments. The sixth day I do an hour, and Sunday's I don't do any cardio. I walk and use the stepper. I think I'm the only one who knows what kind of car the paper delivery person drives. But I remind myself that my competition is also up at 5:00am training. We lift 6 days a week doing splits. As of two weeks ago I added up my cardio minutes and I'd done 4,895 minutes, which is 81.58 hours, or 3.41 straight days of cardio. That was with 10 weeks to go.

I still get a weekly cheat meal, which this week I began to look forward to on Wednesday. That's a little early. We have it as our last meal on Saturday night...and you guessed it - I make pizza. Stand back, don't touch my three pieces, and please don't ask me to get you anything while I'm eating it. I'm very focused (smile).

That's my update, and my pat on the back-horn tootin' report. I'm nervous and excited for this season. I hope as I work this fat off I uncover the hard work I put in off season to reveal a physique better than the one I presented last year. That's the goal. I appreciate every one's support and interest, comments and "go girl's" along the way - it helps me a lot!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dear Food Diary

by Kris Pitcher

Dear Food Diary,
It's not that I've forgotten about you...I just thought I didn't need you. You see, everything was going so well when I was using you. So, I quit you.

No, no you're right - we were good together. When we were together I was tracking everything I was eating. I. Mean. Everything. Weighing, measuring, writing it down and I got so good at it.

My confidence went way up when I could eyeball 4oz. of chicken...I know it's silly. I continued to weigh it anyway just to make sure.

Yes, the results were good. You kept me accountable, thinking about my choices and planning ahead for social situations. You've got me there, my progress was...great. Day in and day out I knew you'd be there to keep me honest and moving toward my goals. We were close friends.

Now that we've grown apart...I feel kind of lost. I feel a little out of control actually. Without you I'm not really doing what I know I should be doing. Which makes me mad because I was doing so well. Now my pants are snug again and I feel like I'm going in circles.

What? You mean you'd just take me back? After I quit you like that? I do want to come's funny, but I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders already and we haven't even "officially" gotten back together. I just know how you make me feel. Is it OK to cry because you're happy? I'm coming back today, I've missed you...

I love you food diary,


Saturday, August 6, 2011

NPC USA Nationals, What Happens in Vegas...

by Kris Pitcher

When I tell people about my recent trip to Las Vegas for the 2011 NPC USA Bodybuilding, Figure, Men and Women's Physique and Bikini Championships and IFBB Pro Qualifier (put that on a poster) I heard the same thing over and over. Did you compete?

As I looked at my chunky-monkey physique, albeit shaping up nicely for my upcoming regional show October 1st...I thought there's something to share here. This was confirmed by my friend who not only is always interested in what I'm doing, but she's also fascinated and thought I should share it with readers.

Todd Scott
Competing at the national level is like any other sport, you're with the cream of the crop. In order to qualify to go to nationals you need to place in the top two (for bodybuilding) at a regional, national qualifying show. Not all regional shows are sanctioned by the NPC (National Physique Committee) as national qualifiers.

People travel from far and wide to compete, and support, in the event. Because travel effects your hydration level a lot of people like to arrive on a Tuesday for a show beginning on Friday. There are two schools of thought; arrive early and get settled, find the grocery store, the gym etc. and hunker down; or arrive the day before prejudging having stayed at home right up to the last minute where you have all your own comforts.

The schedule usually entails two days prejudging on Friday - where the judges compare your physiques, run you through mandatory poses, and you complete 60-90 seconds of "free posing" to show them your physique. This is where you are scored. An athlete must "hold" his/her condition through the second day of the competition when the evening show occurs.

The evening show is where each athlete is announced by name, given a short bio, they do their choreographed posing routine to music, placings and awards are given. It's usually decided, but placing could be changed, and should you win your weight class you will compete against the other class winners for the overall. It's truly a marathon for these competitors.

During this time they are carefully managing their food and water intake. They might be taking pictures and sending them to a coach who's at another location to make a determination on what/how much they should eat/drink. They are applying competition tanning color, trying to rest...all while being anxious and up against the best of the best. This is the big time.

The shows are sponsored by supplement companies and in the lobby of the venue at UNLV there were loads of goodies to be had. Sample packets of protein, protein drinks, bars, energy drinks, amino acids and all kinds of things. It was like a bodybuilders trick-or-treating heaven! I loaded up!

It's "big time" because professional status is at stake. Winning your "pro card" is the goal for these athletes. This elevates your rank and status, you become a professional bodybuilder. The class winners of certain weight divisions (the judges decide) win their pro card. This is the road to becoming a professional in this sport.

I certainly confirmed that dieting and traveling go hand in hand. I cooked, weighed, bagged and deep froze meals for myself and my husband for 3 1/2 days. We each carried on a soft-sided cooler which fit under the airplane seat. Everything was perfectly frozen after our 4 hour travel day. I even threw in a few small cooler packs (which I was prepared for airport security to take away from me).

Prepared with two smaller lunch bag sized thermal bags and my cooler packs we were prepared to take 3 meals each where ever we went. We were set. When we got to LV we hit the grocery store for eggs and veggies, and we had everything we needed to stay on track for our own contest prep.

If you've read this far you deserve to hear the juicy part...we stayed NW of the strip in a rental house. It was very adequate, but unless you are WAY out of town, things are working class. We came home Friday night to find news vans, crime tape and what looked like a CSI scene. Only this was no drama. There was a murder several houses down. I slept tight knowing it would be a very safe night.

It was a great experience for us to see a show of this calibre. Motivated, humbled, and filled with pride for the athletes we were there to support we came home energized for our own journey to the stage.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Time For Abs!

by Kris Pitcher

I've been thinking I should start working my abs. Abdominals that is. Let's review our anatomy first.

Basically we have the rectus abdominus, which runs vertically from our sternum to our pubic bone (stop laughing). Then we have our obliques (internal and external) which criss-cross our sides, and beneath the rectus abdominus (your six-pack) lies the transverse abdominus. It's the deepest of the muscles. It runs horizontally like a cumber bun...remember your prom date?

This is a great exercise from ACE Fitness and works the "heart" of your core - plus I like it because I can lie down. In fact, I'm feeling a little sleepy. OK, focus people!

Visit ACE for complete instructions on how to perform the Supine Hollowing...

Supine Hollowing with Lower Extremity Movements - Abs - Get Fit Exercise Library - American Council on Exercise

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Inspiration on a Hello Kitty Bike

by Kris Pitcher

A rush of pink whizzed by me and before I knew it I was racing inspiration on a Hello Kitty bike. I should clarify I was neither inspiration, nor was I on the Hello Kitty bike.

The back of her purple shorts said CHEER, and her pig-tails bounced out from under her pink helmet. She was doing great until she came up on the big hill. Well, it was big for being so little.

At the top of the hill her mom called, "Walk it out. You can do this. Walk it out." She jogged in place while she waited for this pint sized pig-tailed girl to make it up the hill.

A little wobbly, I wasn't sure if I should power walk my way past her. But as I saw another hill coming I figured I could get ahead.

They weren't far behind me. And mom was encouraging her all the way. No baby talk for this tyke. What goes up must come down, and sure enough going down hill is scary. "Ride on the grass so you don't have to use your brakes," mom advised.  A whimper, and then a confident, "You're right mom, I can do this!" came from the girl.

Pretty soon this Hello Kitty two-wheeler was long gone and well on her way to knowing she can do things in this world. We all need encouragement. We need to hear we can do it, keep going, you're almost there...we need people who believe in us and tell it to us straight.

The exchange reminds me we need to be patient with ourselves and with others. We need to extend some encouragement and inspiration when we see someone struggling to stay on track. And that's why I'm always on the lookout for inspiration, but I like it best when it finds me...on a Hello Kitty bike.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Can I Use That?

by Kris Pitcher

Dear Using Everything at Once Guy/Gal,

I can appreciate your enthusiasm for creativity in your workouts. I'm also impressed with your ability to work at high levels moving from one station to another rapidly in the weight room. Your heavy chest heaving tells me you are completely anaerobic.

Your high box jumps are impressive, I certainly can't jump that high. Especially in such close confines.

You're using everthing at once guy/gal. The problem is...I might want to use a bench too. Oh, and I have to climb over your step with seven risers to get to the water fountain. I'm sure you'll be back to put that away...

I'm all for training for your sport, adding plyometrics, using dynamic versatility and the whole nine yards. I know you'll extend the same courtesy when I'm super-setting.  I just hope you won't mind if I work in - I'd let you do the same.

We'll all get along just fine. I'm just letting you know we'd all like for you to put your things away when your done; try to help us not trip over them; don't be surprised when others would like to use some of the things you've got in your 5 station circuit; and keep the path to the water fountain clear.

Thanks and happy training!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Law of Attraction

by Kris Pitcher

I believe you get what you give, more or less. The puzzling thing about this philosophy is the timing isn't always aligned the way we'd like. Maybe another way to look at it is what comes around goes around...eventually.

If looking at the glass half full makes me an optimist then so be it. I just have to believe what you put in comes back. If I didn't...well I'd just be another grump. And who needs that?

Your disposition draws energy to you. Depending on what you put out, you attract. You've heard of the law of attraction? You might as well put out good energy and see what comes your way.

People get frustrated when the "good" doesn't come right away, or when the results aren't immediate. But like I said, the timing isn't always aligned exactly how we'd like. This doesn't mean we quit. It means we re-group. We take stock and figure out our plan...we keep doing the right things to get us to our goal.

Who or what then is getting the best of you? And who are you giving the best you to? Managing the energy you give to others (and to yourself) is an important component of success. Sometimes we have to sit back and look at what we're putting out - what we're giving, in order to evaluate what we think we're getting.

You have the choice to be accountable for your "law of attraction" in the world. Did you ever notice how some people just seem to make things happen? Now is your time to make things happen, by attracting them to you. All you need to do is give what you'd like in return.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bliss Reality Show!

by Kris Pitcher

If my life were a reality show it would be called, "The Broken Record of Bliss". It would chronicle the habits of a pretty predictable person...with crazy hair.

The episode would be the same every week. The 9-5 during the week speckled with writing, peppered with trying to keep up with family, and marinated in workouts and food prep.

Exciting weekends would entail hijinks such as high speed grocery shopping, marathon laundry, and more food prep. Comedic situations would arise clean the bathroom or take a nap (actually happens)?

Long walks along the river trail would be edited down to about 3 seconds of usable footage. My husband and I love these sunny walks, the sounds of the river, the passers by, the's beautiful.

Cameras would follow us to the gym where we would undergo a grueling leg workout. I'd ask the camera guy to help me get into the truck for the ride home where I would sit on the couch for a couple of hours watching a movie. Thrilling. We'd pause the movie so I could hobble to the dryer to retrieve a load of clean clothes to fold.

This is why there isn't a Bliss reality show. My life is typically average. I'm a self-confessed introvert. I recharge by being with my husband, quietly, at home. I don't like to go out, be in crowds, or be the socialite. That's not where I draw my energy.

Predictability may not make for great reality TV (although we are pretty darn funny), but it makes for a great life, and for very successful training.

And then the record would replay, thus The Broken Record of Bliss. What would your reality TV show be like? How would your days be chronicled?

As I think about it, I hope your version is exactly what you want it to be...mine certainly is!