Wednesday, November 30, 2011

To Do, How Flexible Are You?

by Kris Pitcher

I thought it was timely that John Lennon's "to do" list was hitting the market place just as I had been thinking about that very topic. Well, not John Lennon's to do list, but to do lists in general.

I'm the kind of person who makes two kinds of lists. I make lists of things I need to get done. That would be your typical to do list. I also make lists of things I've already I can cross them off. Admit it, you've done that! OK, maybe it's just me, but I've come clean and now you know my (only) neurosis.

The most important thing about the list/s is they are flexible. You can start your day with the best intentions of getting your list completed and well, let's just say things can get dynamic.

Most days I go into work with a list of things I'd like to accomplish. Then I open my email...and you know how the rest of the story goes. Someones got an emergency, another person has a crisis, someone else has a deadline. And my list goes out the window while I triage everyone else's needs.

We need to be able to successfully triage our own lists too. And be OK with it. When we can let certain things on the list go, or wait, and not freak out about it...we'll be alright. Having rigid expectations about your list will leave you in a constant state of disappointment. And who needs that?

Be flexible with your daily to do's. Our lives are dynamic, and we need to be able to adjust our expectations around that. Your list can be dynamic too. And no, you don't have to write things down you've already done just so you can cross them off in order to feel you've accomplished something. Geeze! That would be crazy!  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Know When to Say No

by Kris Pitcher

I'm always a little sad coming back from vacation. I just start to slip into a lifestyle I really like. Waking and sleeping when my body wants, and eating and exercising when I want to. But then reality sets in...and it's back to work.

The schedule is actually a relief. I felt a sense of calm as I prepped my meals and packed my cooler for the day. I felt confident knowing exactly what my day would be like. More or less. And as I waded into the many emails I didn't set my expectations too high for that first day back. Ease into it.

And we should ease into the season too. Set our expectations a little on the low side. It's a great time of year to practice knowing when to say, "No." Tis the season to be protective of our time and realistic of our schedule.

We can't be at every function, party and social event we'd like to. Multiple events scheduled on the same day can run us ragged. It can be overwhelming, like coming back from vacation. So, we have to pick and choose, and then say no. Some thing's got to give.

Do you have to make all your cookies from scratch this year? Or make them at all? Do the halls need to be decked and the cards sent?  Maybe they do, and it's entirely up to you. Just remember it's your holiday season.

Knowing when to say no helps us to stay on track with our own efforts and maintain some sense of normalcy with our own schedule. It isn't easy, and we want to make time for special things. We also want to make time for the things that keep us sane.

Enjoy the season and know when to say no. Know what matters and what doesn't, know what keeps you sane and what makes you crazy. Keep things in perspective. Ease into it! And practice your no's.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dear Self, A Heart to Heart

by Kris Pitcher

Dear Self,
I'd ask you to sit down for this heart to heart...but since you're still in bed, maybe you could sit up. What is THAT?! And why are you laughing? You did that didn't you? Stop laughing, farts haven't been funny since seventh grade.

We need to talk...
Oh, carbs are NOT your friend! Put those covers down. Listen, you've been on a real bender here for long enough. You've enjoyed your holiday, the family, the celebration - but it's time to pull yourself together.

Are you wearing socks? When was the last time you shaved your legs? Those aren't socks! Really, you need to get it together. You've fallen off the program HARD. Do you see your shoes over there? When was the last time you laced them up?

You haven't been to the gym in over a week and you've been eating like crazy. Sure, it was just going to be one meal...then it was two and so on. It's OK, we can recover from this. But you've got to get out of bed and take the first steps.

First thing, get in the shower. You've got to scrub down, polish up and get yourself in order. You might as well get right into your workout clothes. Next, you need to do some food prep. You know the drill, let's get some lean protein ready to go. And where are those veggies?

Clean out the carbs. What is that? Is that cereal? We don't eat cereal. Get rid of that. And get rid of those cookies too. Leftover know what to do with it. You're going back on the plan. Your system is not handling all that sugar very well, and there is no dog here to let's get our self de-gassed. Geeze!

It's off to the gym to get back on track. Your workout is going to feel great, and everyone is wondering where you've been. Fill up that water bottle on your way out the door, you could use some hydration.

There, doesn't that feel better? It's easy to get off track, WAY off track. But it's just as easy to pull ourselves together and get right back on. Now aren't you glad you got your gas-bag butt out of bed and back on track?! I hope our little heart to heart wasn't too hard on you. But it's hard for me to see you like that. And I know it doesn't feel good either.

We've just begun this holiday season, and no one is going to keep us on track but you and me. It's on us. So, I'm going to tell you like it is. Besides, you're fowl on carbs! Just sayin'! So let's keep it together, this little slip doesn't have to be a land slide for the rest of the season. I'll see you at the gym!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Carmelized Leek Soup

by Kris Pitcher

Leeks are a wonderful vegetable for soups. They are high in vitamin C, in calcium, folate, B6, iron, and magnesium. They are high in fiber and have been shown to decrease the risk for colon cancer in men and ovarian cancer in women. Leeks aid in digestion and metabolism and act as an atiseptic and help the body fight against infection. Wow! Leeks are great for us! Here is a recipe for a wonderful leek soup.

Carmelized Leek Soup
2 pounds leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 bunches)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup vermouth
3 1/2 cups chicken broth

Halve leeks lengthwise and thinly slice crosswise. In a large bowl of cold water wash leeks well and lift from water into a large sieve to drain. In a 6-quart heavy kettle cook leeks in butter over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until some begin to turn golden, about 40 minutes. Stir in sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Stir in vermouth and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated and most leeks are golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Deglaze kettle with 1/2 cup broth and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes more, until liquid is evaporated and leeks are deep golden. Add remaining 3 cups broth and bring soup just to a boil. Season soup with salt and pepper.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Ultimatum, Me or the Exercise

by Kris Pitcher

The ultimatum sounds like this: "It's either me, or the exercise."

Now, this doesn't even make sense to me. But I know countless women who have to deal with this. One of the things that's happening here is sabotage. We'll talk about's safer. *smile.

When we're successful at our efforts we often find people have a hard time with it. We have the "food pushers" who just want us to have one, or take a bite etc. We have the "procrastinators" who want us to wait until later, who want us to shop with them or see a movie or something.

And the ultimate saboteur is the "ultimatum" or the exercise. You're left with quite a choice here. The problem is you don't share values with this person. So, if it's someone you plan, or you've been pretending, to spend your life with...there's a disconnect.

This person is threatened and feels left out of your exercise. They very well may not be interested in the slightest to join you, you have likely tried that route. If you've made changes in your weight they may not be comfortable with who you have become.

The saboteur might find it easier to manipulate someone with lower self esteem than you're developing. They may not like the new sense of self you are gaining as you progress with your program. Change is hard. It's been hard for you.

So, what do I say? I say like it or lump it! I say you've got some distance between your core values with this person. I say, anyone dealing with this kind of ultimatum needs to quietly plan their exit.

Ulitimatums come as someone begins to lose control over you. Realizing you've been in that situation is scary. Sure, sometimes you can negotiate your way around a comment like that. But other times you've hit an impass. Be careful with the ultimatum, you should never be asked to choose.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

Feel the Textures In Your Life

by Kris Pitcher

I loved the movie, Avatar, because it reminded me of scuba diving. The vibrant colors and textures were out of this world, yet they were familiar from another. The way movement happened mimicked the way you move under if you could fly.

And sometimes you need something that is just out of this world. You need something to take you to another place and most importantly to absolutely be in one very moment.

Prior to the first dive, I'm always nervous. There's just something about not being able to breathe under water that concerns me. But once all the equipment is checked and I'm in...I am gone.

And there are few other places where I am truly in the moment, fascinated by everything around me as I fly through the water. The colors, the textures, and the creatures are like none on this side. If someone were to describe them to me and I hadn't seen them for myself I might think of some fantasy place.

What brings you into the moment? When can you shed the worries, the 'to do' lists, and the responsibilities? For a lot of people exercise is that way. It can be the only hour in the day that is yours. The only time focused on you, when you can be in the moment.

When you safeguard that time by tuning into your body - leave your phone for one hour - you can be in the moment in the same way. You can experience the things around you. You can see the colors and feel the textures.

Give yourself the experience of seeing the colors and feeling the textures during your next workout. Be in the moment, wake up your senses and experience what's around you. Stop going through the motions and start feeling the textures in your life. It might just feel out of this world!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks and Gratitude

by Kris Pitcher

It's a great time to think about thanks and gratitude in our lives. As we approach the U.S. holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving we should take time to reflect on all the riches we have in our lives.

Measured in different ways by each of us, regardless of our socio-economic situation...we have a lot to be grateful for. We have much to be thankful for.

While holidays can be a stressful time for many people as they prepare to spend time with relatives it's a good time to let grievances go and move relationships forward. It's a good time to relax about your way being the only way. It's a good time to not worry about how the napkins are folded.

This is the time of year we should want what we have rather than having what we want. Don't get me wrong, I want you to get out there and stoke the economy with all your holiday shopping...but at the same time, take stock of what you have.

Take a moment to tell the people around you why they are important to you, how much they mean in your life, and why you value their friendship. Check on your neighbor who doesn't have any visitors, and take a plate to the lady who always looks out her window.

Thanks and gratitude come in many forms, shapes and sizes. Find gratitude for yourself and for your body. Treat yourself with the compassion you deserve. Take care of who you are. Give thanks.

This is a wonderful time of year. We seem to get pulled so far from what's important over the year. This is a time to slow down, be with people we love, reflect on our values...and give thanks and gratitude.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Departure Gate

by Kris Pitcher

You know the saying - If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. It is very true. When we do the same things over and over, expecting different results something just isn't clicking.

In order to get different results it stands to reason we need to do something different. Change the input, change the output. Change something. Lots of people are stuck in this circle of doing the same things - expecting different results. And it's making them crazy.

I'll tell you something else...if they have a trainer, it's making their trainer crazy too. The truth is we need to come to this realization on our own. The light bulb has to go on over our heads for us to realize...we need to make some changes if we want to see different results.

There's a combination of readiness to change, realizm about what it takes to make changes, and the willingness not to be sucked into society's idea of what "normal" is.

"Normal" isn't meeting at the neighborhood hangout for dinner and drinks. It isn't dining out, or four course meals. It isn't dessert every night from your Electrolux oven. Not if you want to be a healthy weight.

And certainly not if you want that body on the front of the Oxygen magazine, or any of the Health & Fitness mags. The juxtapositon is we look at those images and want that body, but we also want to go out for happy hour. You don't get both.

It's time to meet at the departure gate. It's time to shift our thinking and gain some realizm about what it takes to have and maintain the body we want. It takes a certain lifestyle. When we bring the lifestyle into line with what we want...whala! Magic!

But it takes a serious departure from what we're typically surrounded with in terms of messaging, in terms of what everyone around us is doing and eating. Making this connection is a HUGE leap. Huge!

Making this connection stops the craziness of doing the same things but wanting different results. You have to do different things to get different results. Grab your passport, I will see you at the departure gate!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Try Or Do? Which Are You?

by Kris Pitcher

I have a theory about attitude. There are tryer's and there are doer's. The tryer's know they'll never actually have to do anything. The doer's just do. (Like Nike says.)

It's really about attitude and perspective. It's about thinking you can. You've been on your can drive. So you know you can. When people say they'll try to make know they aren't going to show up.

One of the questions might be do they intend to show up, or do they just not want to say no? I'll tell you doesn't matter.

You either do, or you don't do. And you don't really owe any explanations if you don't want to do something. Just don't do it.

This might seem rambly. But I'm thinking stop trying and start doing. It's an attitude of follow through, of doing the things you say you'll do. This is important for your health and fitness pursuits...for your success.

It's about getting clear on what you want and then doing it. The clarity leads you to the doing. It's the ambiguity that leaves you in the state of trying. I'll try to make it to the gym. Try?

You're either going, or you're not going. Period. It's either part of your schedule because it's important (clarity of goals) or it isn't. Don't try. Do.

Empower your attitude with do. Get clear on why you either will or will not do things in your life. You don't owe any explanations if you don't want to do - or do for that matter - something. The question comes down to: try or do? Which are you?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shoot Behind You

by Kris Pitcher

For days I looked where I thought the shoot should be. With my trash in hand, "turn left as you exit" said the instructions. Maybe I need a key? I thought. My key didn't fit any of the doors that made sense. I couldn't find it.

Now, urban living etiquette suggests that you can't take your trash down in the elevator. That's just wrong. I had to find the shoot. I took my trash down the elevator feeling like I just couldn't figure this out. I looked up from where the trash room was, noting where the shoot should be.

The second attempt to find the shoot resulted in the same defeat. "I am a smart person," I announced walking back into the condo, "I should be able to find the trash shoot." No disagreement, but still no shoot.

What I hadn't realized was, it was right in front of me the WHOLE time. I was looking in the wrong place. I was looking to my left, and it was right in front of me...on my right. "TRASH SHOOT"

I have to say, it is exhilarating to let your trash go down the shoot. My point is, some things in life are right in front of you...well they are right behind you.

You need to turn around. You think you are looking at everything in front of you yet you aren't seeing all that is before you. Life has a way of putting what you need right in front of us, but we'll walk right past it.

What's right in your view that you aren't seeing? Is there something you've been looking for that you're missing? Is it right behind you? Take time to see all that is around you in your life...the shoot's behind you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies

by Kris Pitcher

I love cookies, and I love easy. These are easy cookies. How great is that?! I thought we'd try a no flour oatmeal cookie. I didn't figure out the nutrient content...we're making cookies, they're not "healthy". They have calories. Don't eat them all at once. Sure you could replace half the shortening with some applesauce. But let's just for once eat a cookie, the real deal.

1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
1 c. shortening (not oil)
1 c. crunch peanut butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. vanilla
5 c. oatmeal
Cream sugars and shortening. Add eggs, peanut butter and rest of ingredients. Make into balls and press down. Bake in 350 degree oven.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Success Is a Green Plan

by Kris Pitcher

How far have you come to waiver now? How many hours have you put in? How many ounces of chicken or fish have you weighed? I guess what I'm wondering is why do people quit. Quit and give up on what they've built.

It's never a perfect process. It's ever changing. We have times when we are right on and others when maybe due to life or health issues we need to back off. I think of it as a tide which ebbs and flows.

The truth is, it's hard. And most of the time we aren't working a plan that is sustainable...a green plan.

So maybe the question should be, "How green is your plan?" Could you sustain your level of exercise for the rest of your life?

Could you sustain your eating plan for ever? Give or take a tweak to it now and then. Truly, success is a green plan. A sustainable plan. A plan which isn't a burden to you. People waiver and give up because their plan isn't green. They can't sustain what they're doing.

When you're feeling burned out on your plan you need to evaluate it's sustainability. When you feel like you need a break, modify your plan rather than turning away from it all together. This is one of the keys to making this work long term.

You have what it takes to make this work, just as much as the next person. It isn't easier for anyone. It will be easier for you the greener your plan becomes. Take a look, you just might be able to green things up!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Great Can Drive

by Kris Pitcher

This time of year there are many community food drives. I thought we should do a drive too. A can drive. I suspect your cupboards might be bare of canned items. In fact it's likely been a while since you picked up a can.

It's time to restock. But first, we have to clear out your can'ts. I can't be successful. I can't reach my goals. I can't lose the last 10 pounds. I can't find any self discipline. I can't make it to the gym. I can't find my willpower. I can't...

Clean house of your can'ts. It begins there. Then it's time to go on your can drive. What would you like to do? Is there a hobby you've been wanting to try? A class you'd like to take? Have you been wanting to learn another language, take a trip, change your job?

Once you clean out your can'ts you'll have room for all of your cans. It's a freeing process to think about what you can do rather than what you cannot do. There is so much you can do.

It's time to shift your perspective, to free yourself to think in terms of what you can do. Can'ts limit us while cans are unlimited. The sky really is the limit on our can drive.

Fill your pantry, fill your cupboards, make room for your cans. As you begin to realize your cans you will see there is nothing stopping you, the cupboard never gets full. There is always room for more.

Go out there and begin to do the things you want to do. Do the things you can do. I can see the smile on your face...the wheels turning. Get a box, you've got some cleaning out to do. You're about to go on the great can drive!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blowdry Your Fitness

by Kris Pitcher

Many of you regular Blissers know we're spending a little time in sub-tropic Miami while Jacques competes in the NPC Nationals. One thing is for sure, drying curly hair in a sub-tropic climate takes commitment.

It's a multi step process and there is both speed (meaning time crunch) and patience involved. The speed comes in terms of just the right amount of towel drying followed by the precise amount of hair product applied at exactly the right moment.

Now, once you've got your hair product on you can breathe a sigh of relief...and have that cup of coffee, because this is where the patience comes in. It's time to wait. You've got it. Hurry up, and wait.

Sounds a little like our pursuit of health and fitness. Commitment, patience, hurry up and wait. But let's stay with this. Next, we have just the right duration of air drying. This is usually when I eat a meal, or pack meals...or generally get ready for the day ahead. Multi-task time.

Looking in the mirror with an unfamiliar blow dryer in hand I cover the nozzle with my diffuser "sock". You have to have the right tools. Different tools will work, you can always improvise, if you know your stuff.

I work in my regular pattern but it takes a little longer. It's not quite the same as the dry climate I'm used to - I've got to stick with it. It's too hot, my scalp begins to sweat wetting the very roots I've just dried. I'm spinning in circles.

Commitment. Adaptation. I've got to be able to change my regular make these different tools work. So I hit the "cool" button on the dryer. Our exercise program is the same, we have to be able to adapt to the conditions around us, to make the tools work for us. We have to be able to improvise.

Eventually my curls were dry. They didn't turn out exactly like I thought. They never do! Curls have a life of their own. They are dynamic. So is our journey toward health and fitness. It's dynamic, ever doesn't always turn out how we think. Sometimes we put in all the right work, and what we think should change - doesn't change.

Stay with it. Hit the "cool" button. Keep your commitment. It has a life of it's own.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Great Celebration, We've Got Training To Do!

by Kris Pitcher

I couldn't help but share this with you again. With so many new Blissers, it would be a shame not to. And I hear we are in for a record year. So, it's time to train! Let's go people!

This time next week we will be readying ourselves for one of the greatest celebrations of all. Knowing many of you are rather competitive, I am certain you'll be participating in this cultural feast. I only hope I have left enough time for your preparation. We really should have started sooner. But there's a lot we can do in a week. There's no time to waste, with door busters and power comes Black Friday! Let's get started! 

First and foremost you need to be dressed for business here. Put those high heeled boots back in the closet. What you need is a sturdy, steel toed tennis shoe with good arch support. You'll want to be quick on your feet, while protecting those toes. Next, those smokin' hot jeans with the blinged out back pocket, nope. Again, think agility. A good stretch fabric will be your friend on Black Friday. Layers people, breathable cotton is best. And by all means no jackets. A jacket is bulky and will lead to over heating...flared tempers and that is not good for you or anyone else. 

Now, oh - before I forget - a cross body bag ladies. This keeps you hands free for shopping while keeping your personal documents (ie. lists) close to you. Guys, wallets in your front pocket for security. Things can get ugly out there. On to your training routine. We need to get you started right away with some high knees. Stairs will be faster and safer than escalators. March in place, 10 times, 3 sets of high knees. Daily.

Next, I never advocate offensive shopping. There are some moves you need to get down before next week however. And this is no joke. First move is "Vital Space". You always need to be protecting your vital space. Place your arms out in front of you at shoulder level or just below, now fold your arms locking your hands at opposite elbows. This creates a defensive square, your "Vital Space". Lock in! Your feet should be firmly planted shoulder width apart, slightly staggered, knees soft. Feel your power. Now, slowly rotate right, now left. You are fully protected. 

You will know if you need to invoke "Vital Space" protection by conducting the following, "Private Circle". Private Circle indicates your personal space. Standing with your firm base of support, feet shoulder width apart, take your right arm and point straight forward extending your pointer finger. Now, slowly turn your entire body in a circle. This is your "Private Circle". Never reach, lunge,  or dive beyond your private circle to grab items. And, should anyone come into your private circle, immediately invoke "Vital Space". 

There are going to be a lot of good deals out there on Black Friday. Early bird savings, gold star clearance...but people need to take this seriously. This is no time to be out there on a low carb day, you need to get enough sleep, have a solid breakfast, and get yourself out there well before 5:00 am. You've got one week to build some endurance with high knees, know your "Private Circle", and protect your "Vital Space". Not everyone is going to have the level of training that you will, be careful out there. Now let's get serious about BLACK FRIDAY!   

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You've Caught the Crud

by Kris Pitcher

Tis the season to catch the crud. The kids have had it, your co-workers have had it and now you have it too. It has made it's rounds right into your lap. And you feel awful!

If you're like most men you are close to dying. Sorry guys, but you need a lotta love to get through the common cold. We know you're tough and we'd like to give you tough love on this one. But we'll make you chicken soup instead. Just saying...

But what do you do about your workouts? You tossed and turned all night, you feel run down and you couldn't call in sick because of that meeting you HAD to be in. So now what?

It's OK to take a break. In fact give yourself a break. The general rule is you can workout if you are experiencing a head cold. Once that crud travels into your chest, all bets are off and you need to lay off too. A little cardio and some light lifting with a stuffy nose will be alright. But trying to pound it out on the treadmill while you're coughing stuff out of your lungs is no good.

You need rest, & recovery and that won't happen at the gym. Being able (mentally) to lay off your regimen while you let the crud pass will likely shorten it's stay. And you'll keep from passing it along to everyone else too.

Keep yourself healthy by getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids and eating healthfully. And wash those hands frequently with soap and water. That's your first line of defense. Remember your mucus membranes? Hands off!

Let's try to get through this cold season without too much pain and suffering. Thank goodness for over the counter remedies, and chicken soup.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Expired Tabs and Christmas Lights

by Kris Pitcher

Pardon my Spanish, but Holy Frijoles! As I was driving to the gym this week I noticed houses with Christmas lights up! We haven't even had a chance to enjoy the neighbor's blow up Thanksgiving yard figures. I mean isn't it a little early?

I may be a little behind. I did JUST renew my license tabs...they expired in JUNE. Hey, I've been a little busy and I guess hyper focused. But can't we slow down a little. What's the rush?!

Seriously, things are moving too fast for me. Why is everyone in such a rush? Things take time. This goes for our fitness goals too. We want fast results. Super fast. People want to know what they can do in a week, two tops.

Well, let me tell need to have a longer term vision than two weeks. These are lifestyle changes. Lifestyle means for the rest of your life. Not just until you meet a goal, or until the big race day comes and goes. It means FOREVER.

If you want changes to last, you need to make lasting changes. Huh? That means you keep doing it. You've heard me before, so this is where you can say it aloud with me. You only have to do weight management as long as you want it to work.

We've got the rest of our lives to be healthy, fit, and active. As we think about what changes we'll make, we should be looking for ones we can live with. And we don't have to be in a hurry. Because we know that slow and steady wins this race.

Now, if you need to put up your Christmas lights before Thanksgiving go for it. But I will not be keeping up with the Jones', I never have. Although I will renew my tabs on time this coming year.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How Many Pounds Will You Gain?

by Kris Pitcher

There's a disconnect between what we think happens between Thanksgiving and New Year's and what actually our um...bottom line. The typical person thinks they'll gain between 5-10 pounds over the holidays.

Studies have shown. Yes, I'll repeat that (they've studied this). Studies have shown people typically gain between 1-2 pounds over the holiday season. So, that's not so bad you're thinking? Well, the trouble is - we don't lose it.

These one to two pounds have a cumulative lifetime effect for most people. Each year a couple of pounds creep on and pretty soon, you wake up 25 pounds heavier and you just don't know what happened.

Add in the complication that most Americans will lose a pound or two of lean muscle mass each year due to their sedentary lifestyle and we've got a metabolic problem on our hands. We're gaining weight, and using fewer calories. It's not rocket science.

Part of this disconnect is people worry about the weight gain. I mean worry about it. Maybe you're worrying about it right now. Wondering how you'll cope, how you'll manage all the parties and extras.

We also know this to be an emotionally stressful time for many people and their families. Those of us who live in dark, cold, and wet regions might have additional challenges with seasonal affect disorder, or SAD.

These things can all add up to difficulties managing our food. It's not easy. Knowing about the disconnect is nice. You can put your worries aside. You can also plan ahead. You know when the parties are happening, plan ahead. We talk about that a lot. You know what to do. Just do it. You're in control of how many pounds you'll gain this holiday season.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pickled Eggs

by Kris Pitcher

We eat a lot of eggs at our house. A LOT! And with Thanksgiving rolling around the corner I started thinking about hors d' oeuvres that wouldn't break the diet bank completely. With all the wonderful things on the holiday menu, why not have a few starters on the 'healthier' side. Besides, something about these just draws me to them. Who doesn't like pickled things (it's not like they're feet!)? So, here's an easy make ahead item you can have ready to go.

Pickled Eggs


12 eggs
1 cup tarragon vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bay leaves


  1. Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool and peel.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix the tarragon vinegar, water, sugar, salt, celery seed, garlic and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Pour mixture over eggs; cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days.

Nutritional Information

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 80 | Total Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 212mg

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Pack A Day Habbit

by Kris Pitcher

Have you ever stopped and looked at yourself and this out of hand? Maybe you have, maybe you haven't. But as I finished one and stuck another one in my mouth I this too much?

I was tired, fatigued from it. I could hardly wait to get to my pack. I would flip it open, take one out and go at it. Practically before I had even finished it I was looking at the pack wanting another.

Right after I eat I have to have one. It's the first thing I think about after. And I have to make sure I have more than one pack. One in my purse, and I leave one pack at work. I found one pack in a coat pocket. I don't want to run out.

I figured out the cheapest way to buy them. In a 3 pack. Only a sucker would buy them one by one. You'd go broke! But seriously, I know I'm stressed, having trouble concentrating and it's a way for me to procrastinate.

So, the other day when I looked at the wrappers on my desk, felt the heaviness in my jaw and picked up the almost empty blue pack of sugarless gum...I thought - it's a good thing the muscles in my face don't hypertrophy! 

And I'm going to keep chewing this gum even if I go through a pack a day! If it keeps me from eating bowls of Halloween candy, left over cookies, doughnuts, cold floppy pizza and crock pots full of chili I am keeping my gum. (standing with fist in the air!)

I'm keeping this tool that helps me get through this wasteland of a workplace full of garbage around every corner. And if my jaw hurts I will rest it at home in the safety of my cupboards filled with clean eats guessed it - more gum.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Managing Your Blood Sugar

by Kris Pitcher

Managing your blood sugar levels might not be top of mind for you, but it's a really good idea. You know how you feel when you haven't managed well. Let's say you have that pumpkin spice, white chocolate, mocha choke-ya, latte along with a couple of those doughnuts that place on the corner makes hot and fresh every morning.

Healthy fats slow digestion...
Sure, at first the rush feels great! Then you start to sweat, feel jittery, light headed and a little nauseous even. All that sugar gets dumped into your system and your body kicks into overdrive to equalize or normalize your blood sugar level.

To do this, your pancreas sends out a spike of insulin to shuttle that glucose out of your blood and into your muscles and cells for storage.

Usually our system over compensates and we feel the crash. Our blood sugar is too low and we feel hungry and crave more carbs and sugar. We have found ourselves on the sugar roller coaster.

This is a lot of work on our system. And for people who eat sugary things over and over, it takes a toll. In fact, pretty soon the pancreas can't keep up, and you need to take insulin. You guessed it, you've turned yourself into a diabetic.

So managing your blood sugar just seems smart. We feel better when our systems don't go through these swings. It's easy to do by eating foods, particularly carbohydrates, that are considered complex. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest, creating a timed-release effect on our blood sugar. The oatmeal you have in the morning is a great choice for a stable blood sugar throughout the mid morning.

Pair your complex carbohydrates with protein and healthy fats and you've got the perfect combination to manage your blood sugar. The protein and fat further slow the digestion, and thus the release of sugar into your bloodstream. Your system can deal with it nice and easy.

This is also why we want to eat frequently through the day. Maintaining a continual flow of fuel every two to three hours helps us manage our blood sugar. Our systems want things nice and easy, no big swings. Keep your brain happy and your body healthy by managing your blood sugar.

You don't have to be a diabetic to pay attention to your blood sugar. Eating smart throughout the day will keep you right where you want to be.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Have Your Cake & Eat it Too

by Kris Pitcher

Depending on which side of things you're on, there are times when you'd like to 'have your cake and eat it too'. There are other times when you think - hey, wait a minute...that doesn't work like that.

Here's an example (totally made up) you might be able to relate to. For instance, let's say your employer needed to ask you to take a furloughed day or two. You'd be happy to do it in this economy, so no problem. You mark your calendar and then you find out your employer would also like you to be on call that day. Hey, wait a minute?! 

See how you can't quite have your cake and eat it too? I find that people would like to not have to eat healthfully, but would like to have the body which would result from doing so. You know what comes next. Say it with me. Hey, wait a minute?! 

I can't help it if I'm not able to hear my phone from inside my fort made out of covers over the laughter from a tickle fight...or if I'm out of range on the ski slopes. I'm sure I'll see the voice mail indicator eventually...but probably not right away.

And eventually people come around to the fact that you have to actually eat healthy in order to have the body of someone who does. It just makes sense. You can't even really have your cupcake and eat it too in this case.

So, if you've been waiting around eating your cake and wondering when your magic super awesome body is going to jump into your jeans...well you might be waiting a while. But if you jump on the treadmill, and put down your cake for something more productive like chicken and broccoli (I know...) in time you'll certainly be celebrating. And yes, hey wait a minute, I'll hear my phone. *smile*

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fiber for Fat Loss

by Kris Pitcher

It's time to get a jump start on those resolutions I'm going to later tell you not to make. We might as well just start now, there's no sense waiting! To do that, we are going to pay attention to two things. Fiber, and protein.

We've learned about fiber before. There are two types. Soluble, and insoluble. We are concerned about the latter. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Simple.

The great thing about fiber is it helps us feel full. It also decreases the rate at which we digest our food. It slows it down. This is why complex carbohydrates are thought of as time-released. They digest more slowly because of their fiber content.

Fiber also reduces our risk of heart disease and diabetes. But I know you don't care about that! You just want to fit into that little black dress for the holiday party! Women should get 21-25 grams of fiber each day, and men should get 30-38 grams. Here are a few items that might be in your fiber arsenal:
pear with skin       5.5 gms
apple with skin     4.4 gms
1 C oatmeal          4.0 gms
1 oz almonds        3.5 gms
1 C broccoli         5.1 gms
1 C turnip greens 5.0 gms

As you increase your fiber intake, you also want to increase your water. They work hand in hand to help keep your system working smoothly. The other piece of the fat loss puzzle is protein.

A very modest recommendation for a sedentary person is 1 gram per kilogram of body weight. Yes! I'm going to make you do math. Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to determine how many kilograms you are. If I am 128 pounds, I am 58 kgs. IF I were sedentary, I would consume 58 grams of protein. I'm not.

It's well recognized that "special populations" require more protein. Pregnant women require more, endurance athletes require about 50% more than a sedentary person; bodybuilders may need up to twice as much; and dieters also require more. This vague information comes from webmd. It is nice to know that if you are not sedentary, you are "special". Maybe it should be the other way around...but we'll save that for another day.

Adequate protein intake is important for people seeking to lose fat, build or maintain muscle, and exercise frequently. No big surprise there. Most recommendations would call for 1 gram per pound of body weight for an active person. The key as we work toward our pre-holiday fat loss is to pair our fiber & our protein together, and to eat frequently. Four meals & two snacks. At least.

This is a good time to focus on fiber for fat loss. It will give you a little something to think about as you are reaching for the party platter...broccoli = fiber! Great choice! Why not get a jump start?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Your Declaration!

by Kris Pitcher

I saw a declaration the other day which read, "I am the greatest Grandma in the world." You might have guessed it wrapped a license plate. This is one confident woman. It didn't read, greatest Grandma. It declared in the entire world. That's a lot of Grandma's.

I would imagine there would be a lot of competition for that position. Grandma's are by definition pretty great. Each of us is likely partial to our own. But what I loved about this was her unabashed way of shouting it out to the rest of us.

In general, we aren't too good at tooting our own horn. We are modest. We don't brag. We reject compliments. We even discredit praise. Why do we do that?

Our insecurities have chipped away at us over time and pushed down our ability to declare our greatness. Society tells us we shouldn't be boastful or conceded. But what's wrong with thinking we're good at something? Great even?

We should celebrate what we're good at and be able to accept a compliment about it. We should be able to declare it to the world. Certainly there is balance and grace involved. But there's nothing worse than trying to compliment someone who will not take it.

So what will you declare? What are you great at? What are you known for? How do you take compliments? I'd love to see more confident women sharing and supporting one another in greatness. You don't have to wrap your license plate with it...but let me hear your declaration!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fall Back, Surviving Daylight Savings Time

by Kris Pitcher

I've lived in and visited places who "don't do" daylight savings time. This energy savings initiative began during WWI as the government looked for ways to help us turn the lights off.

Now each fall and spring we either fall back or spring forward. I never like having something taken away...but I do like having that hour returned for extra slumber, if even for just one night.

The truth is this "system" really affects us, it effects our circadian rhythms. It's no wonder people are a little grumbly and off for a day or so while they are trying to get on track. Our circadian rhythms are responses, changes, to light and darkness which follow a 24 hour cycle.

They are connected to our biological clocks. Nerve cells in the brain called suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN are considered our "master clock" and this is located in the hypothalamus (a word I've always liked).

Light is one of the main environmental factors  influencing our circadian rhythms which can change our sleep-wake patterns, our hormone release and body temperature among other things. For instance as it gets dark, our SCN releases melatonin signaling us to get drowsy.

So, it's not just you being grumbly and not wanting to get with the program of daylight savings time. You system is a little out of whack. But given a few days and a consistent wake-sleep pattern, your clock will reset too. And while it will soon be dark at 3:30 PM, we will eventually get used to shorter days.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dear Diet - The Cheat

by Kris Pitcher

Dear Diet,

Listen, there are some things we need to be clear on. Things I thought you understood. You're getting all emotional on me and over stuff I thought we had clear. I'm in this for the long I'm just going to be honest with you.

I'm. Going. To. Cheat. That's right, we have an "open" relationship. You knew that going into this, so don't get all weird about it. What you and I have is special, and we are exclusive. But sometimes, I need more.

It isn't just about what I want. It's about what I need. You keep me where I need to be that's for sure. But I'm smart and my body gets used to what you and I are doing. I have to confuse my metabolism, heat things up! Don't make that's just for an hour.

You can see it right there on the schedule. Every Saturday night. It's not like it's ALL DAY. It's just one meal. You can even watch me if you want to. I mean, I'm not going to do anything I wouldn't let you see. And Sunday morning, it's just you and me again...just like always.

Plus, you know this helps me stay with you, and only you, all week. This one hour away from you lets me know I'm normal, eat what ever I want and know I have something to look forward to. It's there to stoke my metabolism and heat me up just like I need.

I will always come back to you. You keep me sane, in control, and meeting my goals. This is just a part of us, and I'm reminding you that you need to accept the cheat for what it is. So, I'm excited about tonight...and I'm excited about what you and I will do all week long. We're a good team you and I.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Follow Your Spark

by Kris Pitcher

Sometimes the tinniest thing can cause a landslide. You tidy the magazines on the coffee table, then straighten the pillows on the couch and before you know it you've deep cleaned and rearranged the entire room.

It's that tiny spark of energy that ignites something in us. And I wonder do we have to find the thing, or the spark? We are taught to find the "thing". The thing that will fulfill our lives, bring us riches, make us famous...

But I wonder what we might make happen if we just went with the spark? The tiny bit of energy that draws us in a certain unintended direction.  See, the problem with our quest for the thing is some of us never find it. Or, it doesn't fulfill us, bring riches or make us famous. So we feel let down, and we lose sight of any spark at all.

If we turned it around and followed the spark, we might just fulfill our lives, and find our wealth - however that may be defined. Maybe your spark is telling you that you should be an interior designer. Or maybe it's telling you to follow some other dream. Sometimes I just wonder what the world would be like if we all lived our dreams instead of just dreaming them.

Maybe the next time you see the spark, feel the spark - that energy that makes you feel happy and excited - you should explore it. Consider it. Follow it. It might just lead you to your dreams.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Put Your Willpower to Rest

by Kris Pitcher

Did you ever put a text book under your pillow hoping to will the information into your brain through osmosis? If you did, and you're willing to admit it, I bet it wasn't yesterday. You're smarter now...and not because the book was under your pillow!

It's because you know it doesn't work like that. But it's about this time of year when we let the concept of willpower tiptoe back into our consciousness. The season of temptation has begun and we are in for a few months of marathon celebrations. So, what's the deal with willing things to happen?

There is no such thing as willpower. It's like the tooth fairy. It doesn't exist. (Don't worry, I'm not gonna touch Santa.) Here you think you've been weak, that other people have this special power you don't possess. The truth - they don't.

You have the same ability to stay on track as anyone else. The difference? And I'm honest with you when something is my opinion, this is my opinion. The difference is the people who can enact this "power" to stay on track have their values in front of them all the time.

Oh crap! Here we go with the values again. It's true, and it works. The problem with the idea of willpower, and you feeling like you've done something wrong, or bad because you can't "do" willpower is that your actions are not in alignment with your values.

You want to do the right things to stay on track. But you're not. This creates conflict and bad feelings. How do you fix it? Simple. Get clear on your values once again. Write them on a post it note, get yourself a bracelet that will remind you, put them on the refrigerator - whatever it takes to get them in front of you.

Then you simply do the things you need to do to stay on track with your values, or goals. You want to eat healthy through the holidays? Break it down. Stock the fridge, prep your food, pack your meals, take your cooler. Eat what you're supposed to eat. See how this works? There is no willpower involved. There is connection to your goals and values.

This holiday season you can put your willpower to rest once and for all. There's no need to feel bad about anything. No one has this special "power" because it doesn't exist. It's all about being connected to what you want and then doing what you need to get there. Now, take a deep breath and put it to rest.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Post Contest Rebound

by Kris Pitcher

We've all woken up in a strange place with our hair crusted to our smeared lipstick wondering where we are. We've felt the crumbs under the weight of our body on unfamiliar sheets, heard a snore jerk us into crusty consciousness only to wonder...what happened last night?! Tripping over a pizza box with our shoes in one hand and our pants in the other. This is an UGLY situation!

And welcome to your rebound! OK, maybe I saw that in a movie. But you get the picture. Bad, bad things can happen once we reach a goal weight, or particularly after a competition. So, this one is for my competitor friends. Don't leave now though, read along. I'm about to pull out some science.

The period following the competition is an IDEAL time. We call it the rebound. And it is an anabolic opportunity. Given the right attention this is your chance to make your off-season into something really special.

Because your body is at a very low body fat level it is primed to make progress following competition state. When our body fat is low leptin is lowered. Leptin is a protein hormone that helps to regulate hunger and metabolism. When it's lowered it makes us hungry by an increased release of ghrelin (an amino acid & hormone that makes us hungry).

This situation makes you primed to store the nutrients you eat after your contest. And it's no wonder you are so hungry you would eat your own arm off. In addition, when our body fat is low, our insulin sensitivity is high - meaning less insulin is needed to escort the nutrients for use and storage.

So, the right hormones are making us hungry, and our insulin sensitivity is high. In this situation the premier destination for the nutrients is to our muscle cells vs. our fat cells. Our muscle cells need the nutrients. See the opportunity?

By eating more of what you ate pre-contest with the addition of variety of protein such as lean red meat, chicken, etc. and adding those essential good fats from nuts, avocados, and fatty fish along with moderate complex carbs you are giving your body exactly what it needs to grow. Also, the addition of extra calories stimulates your thyroid output which increases your metabolism, and restores your hormone production.

Couple this with maintaining a moderate amount of cardio, and working back up to lifting (like you did before you completely ran out of steam) and you are in the perfect anabolic opportunistic situation! Exciting!

Taking advantage of the rebound in this way fixes the fatigue on all of your systems from low calories and too many stimulants during your prep IN NO TIME. Your period will be back before you know it (or you're ready), and you'll be crying at that commercial where the dog is trying to protect his belongings with insurance. My point is your hormones will naturally restore by eating in this way.

Give yourself a day or two to eat without thinking about it. Get in those things you've been missing. Have the burger and shake. Eat what you want. Then get on program. Get your eating and workouts on track and fast. Schedule in one (or two) weekly metabolic boosting re-feed (cheat) meals. Not cheat days. A meal. When you are a competitor there is no being "off". You are always eating like a competitor. You are just eating more or less.

The alternative is where we started in a metaphoric way. Stuffing yourself with a landslide of garbage because you "deserve it". That garbage doesn't work for you, won't get you to your goals, fix your fatigue, or reset your metabolism. It will also make you really fat. That's the bad rebound where you wake up next to the guy with face tattoos. You don't want that.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Candy Public Service Announcement

by Kris Pitcher

The dentist really should consider peanut butter flavored polishing cream. Would you like mint or bubble gum? Really? How about peanut butter? Or something I would actually want to eat. I would love it if my mouth tasted like peanut butter for the residual hour following my cleaning.

As I enjoy the smooth clean surfaces of my freshly scraped teeth it makes me think of something I heard on the radio last night. I actually thought about it in the chair...but it's kind of hard to carry on a conversation with the hygienist.

Dentists recommend moderate Halloween candy consumption and recommend chocolate over sticky kinds of candy. They also recommend that candy be consumed in a supervised manner, and do not advocate unsupervised "grazing" of candy. Really.

We need a public service announcement for this?

Maybe we do. At least we've concluded that returning all your candy to the dentist in amnesty is not going to be very popular. So, a message worth sharing: moderation, supervision, quick melting.

Oh, and brush your teeth. Did I ever tell you that a Hot Tamale took one of my fillings out? True story. (I've never eaten one since.)