Monday, October 31, 2011

Get Off the Pixie Stick and Back on Track

by Kris Pitcher

OK, let's regroup from what might have been a wicked weekend. You might have woken in a cobweb of slushy memories of overindulgence in the Halloween festivities. And the're not done. Today would be a really good day to have a plan.

There's likely to be a never ending potluck at work today. There will be costumes, way too much candy, and very little work will get done. You will post your status on face book updating us on the various giant cakes and ghostly bowls of punch at the office. People will cruise the counter of food ALL DAY LONG. We won't even talk about the bacterial hazard here, let's just get straight to your plan.

Get your cardio done this morning. Start your day off with some activity. Not a morning exerciser? Fine, but you need to work it in and I don't care if it isn't costume compatible. Do it.

Pack your meals. Be prepared to eat what you are supposed to eat. Don't just plan to eat, eat on schedule. Eating the nutrients you need and are supposed to eat, when you are supposed to eat them will keep you satiated and less likely to dive head first into the bowl of junk. It's not for you, not today.

Brush your teeth after you eat. You are less likely to eat candy if you've brushed your teeth. Chew sugarless gum. This is a great tool. It's hard to chew a mini Three Musketeer's bar AND your gum at the same time. And it's just not very "grown up" looking to stick your gum on your finger while you eat the candy. You weren't going to do that, were you?

Drink your water! Staying hydrated is really important to keeping our munchies at bay. Plus it helps us feel full. Water, not diet sodas and whatever is in that mystery punch.

You can make it through this holiday by following your plan. You may have gotten on the pixie stick this weekend, but it's time to dry out and get back on track. All that sugar is a really bad cycle. You don't need to go crazy and detox or give yourself a yogurt-coffee enema...just eat clean and drink your water. You know the drill, now you've got a plan.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Check Please!

by Kris Pitcher

I am grateful for the community of people who keep me in check. We all know how important it is to have support around us, and to support one another. We know the difference that makes in our progress. Or in our ability to just make it through one more hour or day.

All I have to do is voice the slightest bit of weakness...a waver of momentary lapse and I'm rescued. I'm rescued from myself. Strange. What that tells me is I don't have to be strong all by myself. I can voice my weakness and people will help remind me of my strength.

We can be fallible. I've told you before you aren't perfect, I'm not either. None of us are. So in our moments of question, it's nice to have people to keep us in check. For me this has been one of the most rewarding parts of writing Bliss, I have grown my circle of support.

And to my joyful my moment of recent near chocolate emergency my friend (thank you Ivan) pulled Bliss on me! He literally posted blogs back to me. Check mate!

Who is your circle of support? And do you let them know you are fallible? Have you forgotten you are not perfect? It's a relief to share the burden of responsibility. Don't get me wrong, they are going to put it right back on you where it belongs. But that's the beauty of having friends you can ask, "Check please!"

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bliss Break Up

by Kris Pitcher

I've been on both sides of the "break up". Mostly, I've been the breaker, and have occasionally been the broken. That hurts. There's a point in the conversation where you realize what's happening. "Wow," you think, "this is really happening!" "You're breaking up with me?!"

And you can imagine my surprise because frankly, I have a lot to offer. Passion, knowledge, commitment...a sense of humor. So when the news came that my gym no longer welcomed my blog post on their face book page I was, in the words of my grandmother, flabbergasted.

The gym broke up with me. With Bliss. No longer welcome. Hmm? Had I said something offensive? No. Badmouthed, hm-mm. No. I am considered a threat to their business. Flab. Ber. Gasted.

As the manager told me, in a sit down meeting. I was a little confused. I think of Bliss as a benefit to their members. I am providing (free) content to their fb community. I'm not pushing, or selling anything. I'm not weird about anything in particular...I don't really have an "agenda".

I suggested that if they did not want people participating in their fb community they could utilize the settings on their page so that members could not post. Confusion. Then it was clear that they want participation...just not from me.

The sheer irony is that following the break up, a member came up to me while we were working out and said how much she loves reading my blog everyday! She said it helps her...and there you go. (thanks Shelly)

While I have ZERO revenue stream, trickle, or drip from writing (nada, zilch, zippo) I am a threat to the gym I work out at because it's possible someone might read my blog, connect me to my husband's business and decide to enact their consumer rights to buy what they want from whom they want. We weren't in yoga class, but for me that was a stretch.

So, while you won't find me on my gym's fb page, you know where to find me *smile*. My heart does ache a little though.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Carving It Up!

by Kris Pitcher

It's almost Halloween and time to get the pumpkins ready! I've been cooking with and eating pumpkins for a few weeks, but have yet to do the fun part of actually carving one! There is something about reaching in to all that slimy gooey mess as you clean out the inside! What fun.

Selecting your pattern has taken on a whole new sophistication with templates and tools. So there is no excuse not to have the best on the block! Seriously, put some elbow grease into this.

Clean those seeds up and roast them in the oven while you carve your pumpkin. You'll have a tasty treat when you're done. I like to put soy sauce on them before I roast them so they are salty delicious.

Now, you have a few days left to plan out your pumpkin carving and really there's nothing wrong with the standard jack-o-lantern face either. But have some fun this holiday and get into the spirit of the season. Whether you trick or treat, you are bound to have a great time carving it up!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Smash and Grab!

by Kris Pitcher

No deodorant, no lotion. No deodorant? No sweat! Well, maybe a little. But I had gone days before so a morning without would be no problem for me. I am good at following certain rules.

I had been putting this off because I didn't want to pay the $350 deductible for the test. That's a pretty good preventative care method in my book. Then I was feeling guilty for not taking care of myself. Then I was thinking that it would be lame not to get one...if it found something...I'm worth $350...maybe even $400!

As I looked into it I found that new legislation passed making the mammogram exempt from the annual deductible. So, while my doctor will not see me this year if I can help it (I've made it practically to November!) I called to schedule my mammogram appointment.

The American Cancer Society recommends annual screenings for women beginning at age 40 who are at average risk for cancer. I know right, "She can't be 40!" Tell it to my mom!

While having your mammogram doesn't reduce your risk of getting cancer, it means you are more likely to find cancer earlier.

The American Cancer Society says that we can reduce our risk of cancer by limiting alcohol, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. They also suggest several months of breast-feeding reduces risk, as does avoiding post-menopausal hormone therapy.

There you have it. Time to smash and grab! If you aren't having your annual mammograms you need to. And for you guys out there, ask your ladies, your lady, if she's having her regular mammogram. Early detection is the best preventative measure we can take.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Motivation, Falling to be Better

by Kris Pitcher

So I fell off the treadmill yesterday morning and as I caught myself I thought, "What am I doing up at 5:00 AM?!" I don't know what happened, my foot just went off the right side, and then my left foot followed and before I knew it I was catching myself.

I scurried back on and found my pace. It was pitch dark outside, my husband was snoring away in the bedroom and my contest was four weeks BEHIND me. Why was I falling off the treadmill at this ungodly hour?

It took me back to a conversation at the gym the night before. A guy asked us how we stay motivated after the show. Good question. GREAT question actually. And because it's a good question it's equal opportunity for blogging fodder.

The first frost had fallen over night and frankly I found myself wishing I was in some long PJ's instead of shorts as I padded my way to lace up my shoes. I was freezing. The cat wouldn't even get out of bed. What makes me get up at the crack way before dawn to do cardio with no contest in sight?

I want to be better. Off-season is all about eating clean, working to stay lean, growing, making improvements, and getting better. The motivation to get my bare legs out of bed is that is what is required in order for me to meet my goals. By doing what is required I make progress, and by making progress...I get better.

It's a big ol' self fulfilling prophecy circle of awesomeness (my technical jargon). The motivation isn't "out there", it's in me. I make it happen for myself. And each of us has to find that motivation internally in order to make this work.

To answer his question, the show isn't the end of the process. It's just one component of being a competitor. Before competition day I'm already thinking about what I want to work on, do differently, bring up in the next off-season. I don't see it as a linear process but as a circular process. There is no end, therefore you continue to be motivated to progress forward.

My 30 minutes went by without further incident. The sun never came up, it was still too early. The cat never woke up either. But I did answer my own question about why I was up at 5:00 AM falling off the treadmill...falling to be better!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Know I'm Different

by Kris Pitcher

I spent a few days traveling for work last week and it dawned on me...I'm different. I don't mean that I'm unique or witty, or that I'm the life of the party. I'm barley one of those.

I mean that the way I choose to live my life is not average. I read one of those pre-printed signs popping up all over face book that read, "This isn't off-season, it's a lifestyle." And thank you by the way for all those signs, now we don't have to come up with something clever to say for our status updates.

But it's true, the way I eat and train is my lifestyle. It's not a diet. It's not one phase of contest prep or another. It's my lifestyle. My lifestyle used to be eating bowls of cereal on the couch. I prefer what I have chosen now.

I don't think it's extreme to eat clean and fuel with healthy macro nutrients in the appropriate proportions. It's not extreme to show up with my cooler to ensure I have what I need when I need it. It's not unrealistic to be working toward a goal. It's not rude to say, "No thank you." to foods or alcohol which will be toxins to my efforts.

Explaining my choices falls deaf on some ears and is understood by others. Some people get glazed over right away with even the most overarching answer to their questions. Outside of my regular environment, I tend to stick out. I stuck out at the hotel gym. I stuck out in a meeting as I pulled a baggie of chicken from my purse to put on a salad.

Being different helps me not be conflicted with my values. It helps me make choices in alignment with the outcomes I want. I'm not different from everyone...just most everyone. I was the only one running through the airport with my small carry on backpack, and my soft-sided cooler (which does fit under the seat back in front of me) to make it to the gate for departure.

And as I made my way through the security gate to see my husband waiting for me upon my arrival, I was really glad to be home. At least here my 'different' is the same as his. I know I'm different and I don't mind it one bit.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Finding Time

by Kris Pitcher

You will never find time for anything. 
If you want time, you must make it. - Charles Buxton

We all have the same amount of time in our lives. I know people who amaze me with their productivity. Others, seem to complain they "don't have time". And it's true, they don't.

Having time for something means making it a priority. It means organizing and planning ahead. For some it means scheduling and blocking out time to make sure time doesn't get away from you. However you make it happen. Make it happen. 

Time management should be easier than ever. With all of our technological efficiencies...but it seems we're not all that efficient at all. Tied to our email, and expected to be constantly available it's more difficult to manage time than ever.

Changing your life could be just one hour away. It could be hidden in just one daily hour wasted. Maybe it's time you do a time audit. Where exactly are you spending your time? What has become your priority? Do you really not have time? Or have you just filled your life with busy work?

It's worth thinking about. Ultimately, if you want time, you must make it. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Greek Spaghetti Squash

by Kris Pitcher

I love squash! Spaghetti squash in particular has a great texture and the flesh is like noodles. Oh, I LOVE noodles. Noodles, however do not love my figure. So, this is a great way to enjoy the bounty of the fall harvest and explore something new without breaking your good eating habits.

Greek Spaghetti Squash


1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons sliced black olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook only until tomatoes are warm.
Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash, and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the sauteed vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Serve warm.
Nutritional Information

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 147 | Total Fat: 9.8g | Cholesterol: 17mg

Saturday, October 22, 2011

If I Were A Flower, Impatient

by Kris Pitcher

If I were a flower I would be the Impatien. It's important to note I thought these flowers were called "impatients", with a "t". There is no T. I never slowed down to notice.

There are many different species of the impatien, both annual and perennial. There are even tropical species. It is also known as the jewelweed. It is considered a shade annual most commonly.

I would be a tropical species...
They are know for their prominent eye, surrounded by petals. They do need some light to bloom though so if you're growing impatiens inside, they need indirect light each day. Jewelweed is a folk remedy for the bee sting, insect bites, poison ivy and stinging nettle.

It sounds like the impatien has a lot to offer. I had to stop to notice though because I was looking for impatients. Sometimes we are looking for things, without seeing what is in front of us.

We're searching impatiently. It's no wonder we are frantically and chronically disappointed. We. Need. To. Slow. Down. We need to use our eyes, our prominent eyes, to see what's happening all around us...rather than searching for something different.

What do you have right in front of you that may have slipped out of your sight recently? What have you become impatient about? Are there things you could look at differently?

Make a cup of tea, sit down, unplug and look around at your life. You might just like what you see.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Think Before You Drink

by Kris Pitcher

Fall is here and so are the layered looks and the giant hand warming mugs of hot drinks. But cozy sippers be warned, your tasty mug can pack a calorie punch and pack on the pounds. Between the pumpkin lattes and the hot chocolate a splurge here and there can add up.

The coffee house is buzzing and the cinnamon and cardamon are thick in the air. The chai seems like a good idea as you shiver from the brisk air outside. Don't be so quick to derail your plan though.

I did a double take when I realized a festive 16 oz. peppermint white chocolate mocha packs 470 calories. Wow! That pumpkin spice creme latte is 320 for the same 16 oz., and you're doing yourself no favor with your white hot chocolate at 410 calories. "I don't know why I'm not making any progress, I just have one coffee each morning?"

Seriously if I had a nickel for every time that one came up. Embrace the season and that warm mug at the same time but stick to the 120 calorie cappuccino, or the standard latte at 190 calories for the 16 oz. size. Or, stick with coffee, black, for a whopping 5 calories. I know, I know.

The point is, do you want to drink your calories and laced with sugar and fat none the less? Think of the insulin spike these will cause. Think before you drink this season. Keep your goals in mind as you make choices at the coffee house and don't get caught up in the season. Get a mug up on the holidays by thinking ahead in this easy area.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Eat Fat to Stay Lean

by Kris Pitcher

Eating fat does not make you fat. I know this to be true. Yet I was recently expressing my feelings and fears as I transition from a pre-contest diet to an off-season diet. OK, I was whining.

My concern was eating more volume of foods and calories, including the addition of wonderful fats...was going to make me fat. I. Am. Human. I have the same (neurotic) insecurities everyone else does.

And Jacques so flatly said, "Eating fat doesn't make you fat." And then I tried to weasel my way out of the ridiculous comment I had made. Then he said the magic words. "You need the fats to gain muscle and get stronger." Oh, man he's good!

The truth is the right kinds of fats are essential for building muscle, for bone health and for keeping us lean. Take the amazingly creamy avocado for instance. This wonderful fruit helps us to build muscle by providing dietary fats which perform essential functions like testosterone production. Our building block for muscle.

That same creamy fat produces estrogen, another critical hormone, which is important for our bone health. Avocados are also rich in magnesium and vitamin K both bone building essentials.

Finally, dietary fat helps us to feel full and satiated between meals and snacks. This helps us to stay lean by controlling hunger. His final reassurance was for me to look at the caloric make up, and the macro nutrient balance of my plan. He reminded me that he designed the plan specifically to create a certain situation for me nutritionally and we would monitor my progress and make adjustments accordingly.

I am VERY much enjoying my avocados and almond/walnut mix in my off-season plan. It's a great reminder that eating fat does not make you fat. We need fats in our diet to make hormones allowing us to be strong, healthy, and lean. Bottom line, eat fat to stay lean! Thank you for the reassurance *smile*

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Too Much Information!

by Kris Pitcher

I read an interesting headline on yahoo "news" that sparked my interest for a moment. It was something to the effect that I might be vacuuming incorrectly. Cue sound of crickets...

Now, you frequent Blissers know about my recent memory lapse regarding vacuuming. For a moment I considered clicking on the full story. Then I thought - if I'm vacuuming at all it's not wrong. Period. Let's not be alarmist here.

And that's the thing about constant access to all kinds of important and random information, you need to be able to filter out what might be important to you. And what likely will be a waste of your precious time. Is it possible there is a better way to vacuum? Yes, absolutely. Am I worried about it. Not in the slightest.

Filtering information about health is similar. We are bombarded with information. Your doctor is rolling their eyes at you because you've self diagnosed via the internet and you are sitting on the exam table with your list of diseases you'd like them to treat that day. I'm not sure if it's possible...but we may have too much information.

Being a lover of knowledge that is a strange thing to say. And maybe a better way to look at it is we are susceptible to misinformation at a faster rate than ever. Compound that with our belief that everything in print is true, and we are in trouble.

We don't need to frantically be assessing our vacuuming skills. Being able to pick and choose information requires you to use your brain, consider the source and ask questions.

There will always be a new trend, gimmick, or scam waiting for people worried about their ability to confidently vacuum. The nice thing is solid science doesn't change, and I'm OK with the way I vacuum.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

MRSA Coming Soon!

by Kris Pitcher

I'm a casual observer of life. So when I saw a guy at the gym dressing his bloody knuckle so he could get back to lifting I immediately thought about things that start with the letter "M".

Things like mucosal membranes. I have also seen people leave the bathroom without washing their hands. Not that any of you would ever do that...but I've seen it happen. I've seen nose blowing, picking, and the occasional scratching in places that shall not be named.

Big deal? Well the point is we are all touching the same stuff at the gym. I'm using those same dumbbells you just put down. And in my cartoon head...they're all covered in poop! Now, I know that's not true or I would never leave my house.

But bacteria surrounds us. And the thing that popped into my brain - mucosal membranes - can protect you if you let them. Our mucus membranes line cavities which are exposed to the external environment. They absorb and secrete. We are concerned about their ability to absorb the bacteria left around by everyone else.

They cover our nose, mouth, lips, eyelids, ears (and our genitals & anus - which I hope you're not touching at the gym). These are the gateways for bacteria to easily enter our bodies and create infection. Infection like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. You know, staph infection. Yick!

I knew a gal who's daughter got MRSA about 5 times in one year from her gym. Her gym probably wasn't any dirtier than any other. She was likely a mucous membrane toucher. Keep your hands away from your face!

This is a good rule all the time, not just at the gym. This along with frequent hand washing will keep you bacteria free. MRSA ranges from the not so serious skin infection of a boil or sore, to the life-threatening should the bacteria find its way deep inside you to your bones, joints, blood stream, or lungs.

MRSA is one of the most common causes of infection and is highly adaptable. It's been called the "super bug" because of it's resistance to antibiotics. Don't touch your face, and wash your hands with soap and hot water.

The next time I see you at the gym and you're touching your ears, nose, eyes etc. I'm going to have a hard time not swatting your hands away from your mucosal membranes. Those barriers are there for a reason. We're trying to help you here!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Inspiration in Your Big Girl Pants!

by Kris Pitcher

Sunday morning after listening to my husband wheeze and choke as he snored away I stumbled into the kitchen to hunt for inspiration. Knowing I had procrastinated away my Saturday I wasn't looking forward to the days chores. I stood in front of the sink full of dirty dishes looking for my coffee cup. Would I find inspiration in a steeping cup of coffee? I hoped so.

I wasn't excited about the loads of laundry that waited for me, or the dirty blender that stood between me and my first meal. I just wasn't excited. There was a little inspiration in the coffee, and as I hung the first load of laundry I looked around for someone to give me my gold star...nothing.

OK, I realized I was on my own here. I can do this. Dig deep. And that's about how inspiration works. You are on your own to find it. And you have it in you. I have it in me too. It's just not bubbling up right at the surface all the time.

With each task I completed I started to feel better, more clear. I drank my shake and cleaned the blender so it would be ready for Jacques. I washed the dishes and changed out the loads of laundry. I was on a roll. Pretty soon it was time for my next meal. Each "success" helped me feel like I was accomplishing something. I didn't need my gold star for doing what I was supposed to do.

Inspiration toward your health and fitness works exactly the same. It's not going to fall into your lap. You're going to need to find it. You won't necessarily wake up every day and just have it. You might need to dig deep for it. You might need to search for it. You might need to trust that it's there and do what you are supposed to do anyway...knowing inspiration will surface.

And this is about the time of year we need to do that. It's getting dark earlier. It's getting cold. The holidays are upon us which bring all kinds of stress. For a lot of people this is where it all falls apart and they tumble into the depths of holiday gains. This does not have to happen.

Finding inspiration is within you. It was within me on Sunday morning. I just had to let it surface. It was right there. My best advice is stumble into the kitchen and pull up your big girl pants to find your inspiration!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Holiday Eating, an Army of One

by Kris Pitcher

Is anyone else getting nervous about Halloween? The tension seems to already be building and we're still a few weeks out. The potlucks are beginning at work, and the candy dishes are filled. We're in for a long holiday season...and it starts now.

The giant bags of candy are flying off the shelves. You might have already bought one for the trick-or-treaters. What? You opened it? You're not the only one. But those aren't for you. Those tempting snack sized bars are for the children.

It's time to get our defenses up. This means having a plan and sticking to the plan. Remember that 90% of your success happens in the kitchen. Meaning that what you eat and when you eat it makes or breaks your success. The first line of defense is a good offense. (I think, I'm not much of a sports person...)

Eat what you're supposed to eat. Pack your meals and take them with you. When you have what you need you are less likely to succumb to the table of potluck madness at work. Eat on time. Staying on schedule will help you stay satiated and your body will have the nutrition it needs. Eat your snacks. Those "mini meals" are what will get you through the mid morning, and afternoon torture times.

Don't try to "keep up with the Jones'" - you don't have to go along with the crowd where holiday eating is concerned. I don't care what people think when I show up to the potluck with my chicken and broccoli. I'll be darned if I'm going to eat a hot dog just because we're having a tailgate themed party. Gross!

You can still be social. No body knows the difference if you drink a seltzer water with lime or don't drape yourself over the hors d' oeuvres table at the cocktail party. Think ahead, go in with a plan and stick to your plan. You can make it through the season, you are an army of one!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hamstring Work for Better Balance

by Kris Pitcher

If we can't see's as good as not there. Well, let's not be imbalanced. We need to work what we can't see. This means working the muscles behind us! Today we'll talk hamstrings.

The hamstrings make up the posterior (back/behind) thigh muscles. Their job is to flex (bend) the knee. The muscle group consists of the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris. You just have to remember hamstrings.

There are many different ways to work them, and like all major muscle groups you should have this one planned into your program. Machine weights are a great place to start and most facilities will have a lying hamstring curl. Some will also have a seated hamstring curl. If you are super lucky they'll have a standing curl.

You can do straight leg deadlifts with a bar or with dumbbells. You can do swiss ball curls. Seriously...the options are endless. Pick two or three exercises and work 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions into your plan.

Having muscle imbalances between the quadraceps in the front of the thigh, and the hamstrings in the back lead to knee, foot, hip and even back problems. Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it isn't important.

As you are getting ready for fall hiking and winter sports, make sure your program is balanced by giving your hamstrings equal opportunity.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dating and Dieting, Your Honor is at Stake

by Kris Pitcher

What if we "dated" our food? I don't mean rebound dating, or nasty one night stand dating. I don't mean dating the "bad boy" who you know is no good for you. And I certainly don't mean the drunken late night hook up.

I'm talking about the kind of dating you do to find the love of your life. I'm talking about dating the person you'll spend the rest of your life with. What if we treated our decisions about food like that?

If we did, we'd be very picky. We'd look at their ingredients very carefully. We would consider what they were made of, where they came from...what their intentions were for us. We would think about where they'd been. We would think about the consequences of choosing them.

We would look closely for hidden secrets, for claims too good to be true, and we'd look past flashy packaging. We would stay true to our values and consider our future. We would talk things through and make sure we understood one another.

What if we protected our decisions about food with the same care we protect our hearts, spirits, and bodies with as we choose a mate. I hope you'll consider dating your food as you decide what to put in your mouth. After all, your honor is at stake.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Impostors Go Road Tripping

by Kris Pitcher

As an empty sugar free Rock Star can rolled around under my feet and I could barley get the door open from the garbage piling up in the car. I felt like those impostor chickens. You know the ones trying to be Foster Farms chickens.

I was definitely plumped and bloated. Licking my fingers of the grease and who knows what from the carmel flavored Bugles we had just snarfed down I crumpled the bag and added it to the collection of rubbish. The chemical taste which first hit my tongue was quickly gone after the second, or third handful.

"That tastes like cereal," Jacques said of my gas station impulse buy. I suggested he put Bugles on each finger and drive that way. He didn't. We were on our way home from a long road trip, and it would be the final eats on a week of no pressure "eat whatever" non-dieting. I did win a breakfast sandwich at McDonald's playing their Monopoly game. Big winner! (tasty sandwich...)

Diet soda, trail mix, hamburgers, lots of coffee, a few snickers ice cream bars...and we were plumped just like the impostor chickens. Fat, sugar and salt had us gasping, burping, and um...gassing up the car.

We ate protein bars and pate sandwiches, drank nitro shots and trucker pop. All the great road trip essentials. A long weekend, three states, a time zone and boy were we glad to be back home. All that garbage left us with headaches, bowel trouble and an appreciation for good clean food.

So, having experienced the wide open road, these chickens were happy to be safe and sound in their own kitchen broiling fish and steaming rice. It was right back on schedule this week and it feels good to be back. From here on out it's pack the cooler and eat the plan. No more impostor chicken road trips for us! That one wore us out! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Top 10 "Positives" for Off Season

by Kris Pitcher

As a competitor, you can get the blues after the big day. For any athlete after the competition is over...figuring out what to do after the big day is a challenge. Without a solid plan you can spiral down hill into a bag of doughnut holes wiping tears away with powdered sugar hands. No this didn't happen to didn't.

Looking for the bright side of things I came up with my Top 10 List of Things I'm Looking Forward to During Off Season: (OK not the queen of brevity there)

  1. I get two carb cycle days in my off season diet - rather than only one
  2. I get to work on improvements in my physique - making gains 
  3. Being able to lift heavy again - having my strength back (you need some meat on your bones to lift heavy)
  4. Filling out my bras again - this is the plus side of having body fat
  5. It will be winter so I can wear sweat pants and sweat shirts to cover up my off season size
  6. I'll still get a cheat meal every week - yum!
  7. I only have to do ONE cardio session a day - instead of 2
  8. My husband says I put fat on nicely and he likes me even better off season (he's sweet)
  9. I won't freeze (as much) through the winter - hello insulation
  10. I'll be THAT much better next context season! 
Taking time off to train and get better is part of the game. People forget that you can't have your contest body all year long. It doesn't work that way. Getting my plan going, and focusing on all the positive aspects of off season has me mentally prepared for moving forward. And after a great result this year, I'm excited to get going on making gains and improvements toward the physique I'll bring to the stage next time.

It's not just about the time you spend for a millisecond on stage, it's about the entire process...beginning now. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Leftovers Turn to Left Behinds

by Kris Pitcher

Only recently have I been able to not devour every single morsel of food on my plate and be OK with it. Sure it's good to foster a culture of not wasting food. But my ideas have changed about leftovers.

Eating without restriction for a week following the contest was a little bit of a social experiment to be honest. I noticed things around me. Like I didn't know how to order at Fat Burger. "Fat fries or skinny fries?" the teen aged kid quizzed me. I looked at Jacques and he looked at me. Blank. "Skinny," I said.

I also noticed how that same sense of unfamiliarity played out over and over. With each restaurant experience I had, I came across an unfamiliar menu. The pressure of ordering quickly made me feel like I was in a foreign country. Like I didn't belong.

It made me uncomfortable to be honest. I felt out of place. Some of the items I ate - I liked. Others not so much. And that's when it dawned on's OK to leave behind this food. I don't need to take leftovers of something I don't want to eat. Or of something I've had my fill of.

The stuff I didn't want became left behinds and I was perfectly alright with that. I doubt my half a baked potato at the Outback would have solved world hunger. Nor would the slightly chewy tortilla chips at the Baja Fresh.

What I learned was it's alright to be particular about what I choose to eat. And when I indulge in something it's OK not to eat the whole ridiculous portion. Having no intention of eating it's OK to leave it behind. It's no soldier.

Do yourself a favor next time you are considering your leftovers...leave them behind. Your behind might just thank you.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Acting on Intention

by Kris Pitcher

Intention sparked by desire can fizzle before you know it when it isn't backed with some action. Action seems to be the key behind making all this work. We can have all the good intentions in the world but no one's going to do the work for us.

And that's where most people get stuck. They get stuck with good intentions, and desire. But then what? It's the "then what" that separates those who are successful with this whole process of weight loss or management or what ever you might call it. Of progress.

Acting on intention is the only way forward. It means having a plan besides "hope". Hope isn't a good plan. Action is a good plan. It's pretty simple really. Do what you intend to do. Plan ahead, make it happen. Be organized, take what you need with you, schedule what's important.

None of it happens by accident. OMG! I fell onto the treadmill at 5:00 am! Yeah...never gonna happen. It happens with intention, and action. Set the alarm the night before, put out your socks, get up, lace up, and walk. Do it day after day.

But that's nothing you don't already know. This is a good time of year to remind ourselves of our intentions. It's a good time to check in with our goals and our plans. Maybe we're on track, and maybe we have some actions to take. Let's get it together so we're setting the right pace as we march into the holidays.

It's all about acting on intentions. Ready, set...action!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Change, No Costume Required

by Kris Pitcher

With Halloween right around the corner it dawned on me this is a great holiday! It's terrible because of all the snack size candy...which will derail your efforts in a millisecond. But it is great because those of us who don't take ourselves too seriously can be anything we want to be.

Living in a rural place where we don't get any trick-or-treaters, and having no trick-or-treaters of our own, we haven't had an excuse to dress up in costume. Until now! Thanks to a very timely bodybuilding contest, we have the perfect excuse to dress up.

Last year we were Ms. Erye (misery) and Mr. E (mystery). We were a zombie pageant couple. How fun is that? OK, my father-in-law thought it was quite creepy. This year we have a whole new "couples" theme costume in the works.

And all this got me thinking...we can be who ever we want to be all the time. It's true. We can feel bound to self descriptives, to job descriptions, occupations etc. But the reality is we can re-make ourselves, re-define ourselves any time we want. We don't need Halloween to take on a new persona.

The truth is you can be the strong, capable, in control person you wish you were. Be that person today. No need to wait. No costume required. There isn't anything holding you back except your own self-definition. So change it. You don't need a wig, or face make-up, all you need is your attitude.

You choose who you are every day. You choose how you will be defined. And if you don't like it, you have the power to become the person you want to be. I love that. So embrace the spirit of the season and look within for the person you wish you were. Then become that person. It's the perfect time for change, no costume required!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Massage for Increased Performance

by Kris Pitcher

The benefits of massage to the athlete or regular exerciser are many. Both psychological and physiological benefits abound from the many types of massage.

The primary physiological benefits of massage are brought about by increasing the blood flow and thereby nutrient delivery to the muscle tissue. Regular massage can reduce scar tissue, increase flexibility, and joint range of motion.

Massage also decreases neurological excitability meaning it relaxes our nerves. It decreases our muscle tension and is thought to improve performance. Massage is thought to decrease recovery time between workouts, and to decrease muscle spasms. While studies aren't entirely conclusive the physiological benefits are widely accepted.

Massage increases our mind-body awareness and has many positive psychological benefits. It increases and improves our sense of well being and decreases our anxiety. We are left with a positive and relaxed sense of self following a massage.

Having regular work done is a great addition to your workout and healthy eating routines. Massage can speed injury recover and can prevent recurrence of sports injuries. Taking care of our minds, bodies, and spirits through massage can take our performance to the next level.

Friday, October 7, 2011

In Focus

by Kris Pitcher

I stood there looking at my vacuum like I had never seen it before. Now, I have the mother of vacuums. My husband bought me "the good one". Now, this was not a gift...he's not stupid.

But I stood there with it's neck firmly in my grips...and I couldn't remember how to turn it on. I don't mean, it took me a minute. I mean I did not remember how.

I realize during my contest prep I might have let things go a little. And the vacuum was out because Jacques had recently vacuumed. But had it seriously been so long that I didn't remember how to operate the thing?

As I stood there I thought to myself - what you focus on gets done. My focus had been so intent, so deliberate, so pinpointed that I literally let other things go from my brain. When I was done laughing at myself and I got the thing turned on...I vacuumed the heck out of the place.

What is in your focus? What are you paying attention to? Do you have expectations around things, yet you aren't putting focus there? It's worth considering. We can easily get frustrated over not seeing results, except we aren't focusing our efforts on the activities which will get us the changes we want.

Bring the things you want into your focus. Put your energy into the activities that are going to get you what you want. Focus brings results. I know this to be true. Now I can broaden my tunnel vision to include things like vacuuming, and maybe the occasional mop to the floor...although I'm not making any promises.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Hangover

by Kris Pitcher

It started with a twitch behind my right eye. Then came the headache from the back of my neck, reaching around to cup the side of my head and face like a giant warm hand. My stomach was hurting and on the drive into work I started to get cramps.

I realized I was making scrunched up faces and hoped the cars around me on the slow moving freeway couldn't see me wincing in pain. Relax and breath I thought, relax and breath. My throat was dry and no amount of water seemed to quench my thirst. I just kept drinking and drinking.

How do people do this day after day I wondered? This had just been three days and I could hardly take it. Hunched over in pain I made my way to the ladies room for another bout of gastrointestinal distress. Was there a twelve step program for this?

My coworker came in to talk to me and my head felt fuzzy. I could barely focus on what she was telling me. I shoveled fish and green beans into my mouth...yes it was breakfast. Water, drink water. For a moment I wished I had "people" to make me a cup of tea. I was on my own. I never made the tea.

By mid morning my headache was in full force. My right eye looked like I was stroking out. At least that's what it felt like. How would I make it through the day with this hangover. I had been on a three day bender...a sugar and carbohydrate bender. And boy did I feel bent.

Puffy, stuffy, bloated and gassy. I felt head achy, sick to my stomach, and literally crappy. It's amazing what an apple fritter can do to you. But it wasn't just that. It was the brownies. They were so delicious I told the creator I would marry her for them. It was the chocolate-chocolate chip-bacon cookies, the Angus burger (we did share the fries). It was the small dish of cheesecake flavored frozen yogurt from Chillin (I wouldn't go back there). It was the homemade lasagna, the bananas foster (oh man that was good).

By Wednesday morning I was sick of it. Back on the treadmill, I was crawling out of my skin. My bender is just about over. And I seriously don't know how people do this to their bodies day in and day out. It. Is. Exhausting. I'm ready to say goodbye to the hangover and hello to what's next. I am ready to be on the wagon, the clean eating wagon. All aboard! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall's Sweet Power Food!

by Kris Pitcher

Fall is a great time to focus on power foods! One of my favorites tops the list - the sweet potato. The sweet potato ranks number nine on the Cleveland Clinic's list of 35 Power Foods.

We should include power foods in our diet because they provide the richest amount of nutrients, the least amount of calories, the most health benefits, and are shown to decrease our risk of heart disease.

The sweet potato is rich in vitamins A, C, E, in copper and rich in fiber. This orange root vegetable packs a punch...and tastes like candy! Nature's candy. One cup cooked has 180 calories, 41 gms carbohydrates | 7 gms fiber | 4 gms protein.

They are easy to prepare. Just preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet with tin foil. Wash and dry the potatoes. Poke holes with a fork, and you can rub with olive oil, or not. Bake for 45 minutes or until a fork inserted meets softness. Yum!

Once they're done, let them cool. Then peel the skins off and enjoy. You can do almost anything with them. Eat them just as they are, or throw them in your food processor with some orange zest and a touch of cinnamon and clove. My mouth is watering...

Add some power to your diet by integrating the sweet potato into your carbohydrate rotation. Enjoy the benefits of this sweet power food!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Night of Champions

by Kris Pitcher

Saturday was an amazing and rewarding experience competing in the Night of Champions. It was the culmination of 22 weeks of preparation...of dieting rather. It had been a year of preparation, and 5 months of dieting. As we drove to the venue that morning Jacques said, "Can you believe this is it for you?"

Just one show. This would be it. There had been years when I had done multiple shows in a row, up to 4 shows! Yikes, if that's not a marathon. I told him I really thought of it as the whole journey, not just the contest day, Was I comforting myself? I honestly didn't think so, I really think of the whole process not just the stage time on contest day.

As we returned for the evening show there was a sense of feeling a bit more relaxed. But at the same time, a heightened sense of the performance. Your family is there, you've got to perform your routine. You need to dig deep to find the energy to get through the final stretch. And the day had been spent staying on point.

This means a cup of ice chips, clean protein, dry carbs...keeping things tight. There was no trip through the drive through for a Big Mac between the morning and evening shows this time. And the show was on!

Watching competitors and coaches back stage is a sport in itself. This is something I love to do, It's fascinating, it's mesmerizing, it let's you know you might have a leg up, know more, or just be completely confused. It's interesting to say the least. Plus it's fun to talk to other people, meet other competitors and the whole deal.

The order of the show meant that we were up for mixed pairs first. Our routine was set to Imelda May's "Big Bad Handsome Man". It was fun, we pulled it off and won first place. The pace was set for the evening, and the wins just kept coming.

It was shortly after that when I realized I would need to do my individual routine. I hadn't given it much thought in the last few days. There had been so much else going on. Individual routines are not scored, but you still want to do a good job. I ran through it in my head a few times took a deep breath and it was over before I knew it.

Being on stage is a bit surreal. It's bright, but you can't really see past the judging table. Plus, I'm not wearing my glasses - so there's that. It's loud, but you can't really hear anything. I always feel like I'm in this big warm bubble. There are hundreds of people out there, you're in a tiny posing suit (which you hope stays glued in place this time) and you just try not to look terrified, and oh remember to smile!

I won my open lightweight class. My dad noted that Optimum Nutrition needs to put a handle on their 5 pound jugs of protein because no one can pick them up. After posing for the photographers..."Do your most muscular" Jacques said, I was able to pick up my trophy and protein and make it off the stage.

Next up would be competing for the overall title. The heavyweight winner and I take the stage and the head judge takes us through mandatory poses. Quarter turns, then poses - which is nice for the audience to see how we are compared. And then comes an amazing and special moment. I win the overall title!

Dave Patterson the MC hands me the microphone and asks if I want to say anything. WELL, yes I DO!  I had lots of people to thank. Lots! I know there are many people who have earned the overall title before, and some multiple times. But it's something I never thought would happen for me. I'm proud of the progress I made, proud of the dedication, and of myself for doing the work. Dang! They gave me a sword!

Jacques would go on to win his middleweight class. This is always the toughest class in most competitions. He did remarkable work and brought his best physique ever to the stage. His conditioning is his best ever, and he's excited for what's around the corner. Nationals.

And as things were winding down, as competitors were clearing out back stage and the night was closing - he was waiting to compete against the class winners for overall. (He scored 3rd in that lineup.) Then they called out the team award.

The team award went to Team Pitcher! Jacques brought in six athletes earning 4 first place, an overall, and 2 third place wins. Way to go Jacques! And so it was a Night of Champions.

Monday, October 3, 2011

This Doesn't Taste The Same?

by Kris Pitcher

I was pretty excited to eat my oatmeal with Truvia Sunday morning. I went downstairs to the underground pantry where I had hidden my stash of artificial sweetener. It was right there with the crystal light, the microwave popcorn, the natural fruit leather, cocoa powder and all the other "off limits" items banned from my contest diet.

After flicking the little green packet I opened it and sprinkled it on my oatmeal. I was giddy. I could almost taste the sweetness start to overcome my tongue. I stirred it in and settled in for what would be a real treat.

Only, it didn't taste like I thought it was going to. It had a chemical after taste. It wasn't like I remembered it. And that's when I realized...I'm ruined. It's no secret I am a self proclaimed food snob. First of all if I can make it better at home I don't want to pay a bunch of money for an inferior meal out at a restaurant.

Second, if I am going to eat something better be REAL special. And the problem is things don't taste how I remember. And they don't because most things are just garbage. They are crap. So, I'm ruined and I am perfectly fine with that.

So, now I can save myself the $6 per green box of Truvia, because it doesn't taste the same and I can do without it. As I cleaned out my diet I also cleaned out my palette. I can taste things like a super hero now. The natural sweetness of the oats is apparent to me without anything extra on it.

Don't worry! I'm still washing my hair and wearing deodorant! I've just gone natural with my food and I don't think there's really much sense in going too far back the other way. It just doesn't taste the same.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


by Kris Pitcher

Prejudging is always a whirlwind of an experience. It starts early...because I can never sleep the night before. This time I woke at 2:00 am, and tried to doze on and off...mostly off. I finally got up at 4:30 am to "put on my face". As you can see in the photos, we are pretty dark. And I have a secret weapon make up that I use to match it. 

So I stumbled into the bathroom to begin the process. It actually only took me about 40 minutes. I had practiced a few times before. I seriously wrestled with one eyelash. It won, but was on the side with my long bangs, and I figured it would do. It did.

Next, hair. It stayed pretty good. Since I barely slept, it was pretty much exactly like when I went to sleep. A few swipes with the hot iron and some back combing, spray, spray and more spray and I was good to go. 

My bag was already packed with the essentials. The requisite food was made. It was time to...wait. We ran through our mixed pairs routine a time. And then I glued myself into my suit - it was almost time to go. You can just skip to the next paragraph, because I'm about to tell you about my bathroom habits. It will be too much information. I apologize in advance. Then I felt like I had to go. You know...number 2. (sorry everyone, but that's a big deal on contest day.) 

So while my husband was literally packing the car, I made a dash for it. And low and behold was successful. Thank you for your support.

We were on the road. Once we arrived at the venue, it was time to eat. And time to pee again. Not easy once you're in your suit. But I never glue the bottom, so no problem here.

We met up with fellow competitors, Jacques' clients, and waited for his coach. Inside the theatre we took stake of great seats and waited for the competitor meeting. Our coach, and friends arrived. Everyone excited!

Once the meeting was over, it was back stage to again stake out space, check color and get ready. Mixed pairs was first on the schedule. We did great! Then I was off for a quick suit change for my individual weight class.

All glued in ( I thought) it was time for some carbs and to get oiled up. Then I was off to pump up. And pump up I did! Thank you carbs and sodium. I always get super nervous before I go on stage, my adrenaline is pumping. It's exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. And as I was walking off stage...boobage. My right boob did a Janet Jackson out the bottom. We'll just hope the audience either didn't notice, or enjoyed that. 
Next, Jacques was up. And boy was I glad to be done. I was out of my suit top and into my shirt and pajama bottoms to go out into the audience to watch his class. 

And he looks great this year! I am proud of the work we both did during our very focused off season. So, as I write we are resting (on Saturday) waiting to go back to the night show for awards. We don't know how we did yet.

But the work is done. The judging is over. We are already thinking about what might be next. Thinking about what we want to improve upon. But we are also ready to celebrate this moment. It feels good.  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Post Contest Pumpkin Waffles

by Kris Pitcher

Tomorrow, I will be eating THESE waffles. So, if you all would like to eat them with me - here is the recipe. Get your ingredients together and get organized! We're making:

Pumpkin Waffles


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  1. Preheat a waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, salt, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together the pumpkin, milk, and egg yolks. Whip the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form.
  3. Stir the flour mixture and 1/4 cup melted butter to the pumpkin mixture, stirring just to combine. Use a whisk or rubber spatula to fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter, stirring gently until incorporated. Fold in the remaining egg whites. Cook waffles according to manufacturer's instructions.
  4. To make the syrup, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Stir in the apple cider and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil; boil until the syrup thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons of butter until melted. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information 

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 530 | Total Fat: 17.1g | Cholesterol: 178mg