Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Your Post Workout Meal

by Kris Pitcher

There are two meals of the day which should be your easiest of the day. Getting your fuel in at the right times and in the right amounts is important to your goals.

Whether your goal is to lose fat, or gain muscle...or both, the post workout meal is an important one. It's also one of the most talked about, least understood, and most confused.

And, I can't figure out why. So, today we're going to simplify this mythical meal. After our workout we want to refuel with protein. Not just any protein, we want fast digesting protein. We also want branch chain amino acids (BCAAs - we've talked about these before).

Specifically, we want leucine. Leucine is an essential amino acid (meaning we need to get it from a complete protein source) which basically flips the switch for protein synthesis. It opens the door and leads the way for protein synthesis to begin right after our workout. We want that!

Now, remember we said we wanted a fast digesting protein. Whey is your fast digesting protein of choice. Studies have shown it to provide the best post workout response. Whey was compared to soy and to casein by researchers who recently published in the September 2011 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Their findings concluded that whey delivered the most anabolic effect following exercise.

Many protein powders are going to already have your BCAAs in them. You don't necessarily have to take them separately. Read your labels and save your money.

You want to be taking your 20-30 gms of whey protein following your workout within 30 minutes. It's the first thing I do. Well, I wash my hands first (we've had that conversation too). Then I reach for my shaker cup and down my protein shake.

This should be one of your easiest meals of the day! It's also one of the most critical. It should be simple too. Your post workout meal is one of your powerhouse meals. Are you getting it?

*What's your other "easiest meal" of the day? It's your very first one! Also a fast digesting protein shake to start the day off right. All the rest are going to be real, whole, and clean food.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Love Amongst The Iron

by Kris Pitcher

You may or may not know that my husband and I are workout partners. Some couples just can't workout together. Ever. I've never understood that. I can't really imagine doing it without him.

In fact, and I think I've said this before...I'd probably sit on the couch and eat bowls of cereal were it not for him. He makes me a better person. OK, enough mushiness!

The gym is a great place to meet like valued people. I know a lot of women who go in to the gym, put their headphones on and keep their head down trying to keep eye contact to a minimum. That's all fine and good if you're already coupled up with some cozy situation. But for you single ladies...take a look around.

I think that nice guys do finish last. It's the douchy guys that keep the ladies in baseball caps worn low, headphones on even when their ipod is blinking yellow because it's out of juice. It's no wonder they are trying to avoid these guys.

But how about that nice quiet guy who always asks you how you're doing, or offers you a spot. Maybe you shouldn't be quite so sceptical of every single person in the gym. Who knows...maybe there's someone there worth talking to.

My point is, we meet great people doing the things we love. We meet great people who share our values when we aren't looking, when we're just doing what we do. But we have to open our eyes and drop some of our Men's Health cover ideals about how he'll look, or what kind of job he'll have. Or whatever.

I hear A LOT of fit, beautiful, smart ladies complain about being single. And, I have figured out why. It's not because no one will understand the way you eat, or that you need to do two sessions of cardio a day. It's not that your lifestyle is so crazy, or that Mr. Right isn't out there.

Ladies...we're holding ourselves back. Well - you. You are holding yourself back. There's love amongst the iron. If you're open to it. Next time you're at the gym feeling down on yourself and a little lonely, tip your hat up a little so you can see. And take a look around you. You just might be surprised who's there, waiting. Now, go on! Let him TALK to you! ;)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Frog Does Not Drink Up The Pond In Which He Lives

by Kris Pitcher

There's something about being in themed stores that makes you want to "be" whatever that thing is. Maybe it was the music that got my attention, or that bin of "bag your own gems". Perhaps it was the kokopelli magnets, or the dark haired mysterious looking shop keeper...

The silver jewelry definitely caught my eye, and the prices actually made me choke on my own spit a little. The case was jammed with red, blue, and green surrounded by shiny silver. Keep walking I thought.

I was being whisked away by the wall of dream catchers when I came upon this Native American Proverb (or so claimed):
"A frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives."

Hmm. It made me think about living a more simplified life, about being grateful for what we have, and about being responsible stewards of our resources.

And in this "Way Out West" themed store FULL of stuff everywhere, I found one golden nugget. So, I raced out of there and took out my tiny book of big ideas and wrote down the proverb. And I started to think about how I might simplify, do with less, or appreciate more fully what I have.

Taking time to be grateful is important. It renews our sense of what is important in our lives and it restores our sense of feeling grounded in our lives. When we get caught up in what we need to have, what we don't have, and what we want to have - we are drinking up our pond.

What are you grateful for in your life? Are you being a good steward of your resources, of the resources of your "pond"? Take time to think about it. You'll feel more grounded and sure of yourself and of your life.

You'll feel more sure than ever about what's important, and I bet one of those things will be you and your wellness!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Out In Front

by Kris Pitcher

"If you're not in front of it, you're behind it." - Kris Pitcher

Today's Yogiism is brought to you by yours truly. A Yogiism is a kind of obvious witticism made famous by Yogi Berra. But this one came out of my mouth this week and I just had to share it with you.

It's true...and it's obvious. Think about it in terms of your goals. If you aren't paying attention to what you've said is important to you, then those things aren't getting done. Period.

The moment your focus fades so does your attention, and there goes your actions. Once that happens you're just done for. You've got to stay out in front of your goals in order to make them happen.

How do you do that? You do that by paying attention. You do it by doing the things necessary to get you where you want to be. You break things down to their tiniest parts, and you do them. Bit by bit.

That's how you keep from getting behind them. If you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, ready to quit...you're "behind it". It's time to go back a few paces and figure things out. Where did you get off the rails? 

Usually it's because we took on too much and it all started to move too fast and we couldn't keep up. So, slow it down. Pick a few things (1 or 2) to focus on and do those few things. Once you are comfortably out in front of it again, you can always add more things to it.

So, just stating the obvious here, if you're not out in front of it, you're behind it. Where are you? I'd like to see you back out in front!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Metabolic Make Over

by Kris Pitcher

Now this is a hot topic! It's sciency and you know I'm going to get excited! We have some room for improvement when it comes to heating up our metabolism. So, today we're going to take the three "M" approach to a metabolic make over.

The first of the three M's is Morning. If you aren't a morning person, that's OK. But we've got to get things going first thing in the morning. We have slept over night, hopefully a full 7-8 hours. When we wake - we need to fuel. During our sleeping hours, we haven't had any fuel and our metabolism begins to slow.

Morning is the time to get our metabolism going by putting some fuel in the tank. I like to think of our metabolism as a fire. We need to add fuel to the fire to keep it burning. No fuel, the fire goes out. In this time of opportunity we want a fast acting fuel, and a whey protein is perfect. It is fast digesting and gets us off to a great start.

The next M is, Muscle. We lose muscle as we age. But this isn't necessarily age related, it's activity related. We become more sedentary as we age. Use it or lose it. So, it's time to increase our muscle mass to increase our metabolism. Muscle tissue is metabolically active tissue. It's burning fat all the time for fuel.

We tend to think of doing cardiovascular exercise when we want to lose fat. And that's important, however we want to increase our metabolism by adding strength training to our program. This is an effective metabolic boosting strategy. The more muscle mass we maintain, the higher our metabolism.

Our final M in our metabolic make over is Meals. We started our morning with fuel and we need to keep that fire burning all day long. This means mini meals throughout the day. Stoking the fire keeps that fire burning. Make sure you've got a plan that includes at least 4 meals and some snacks strategically planned during the day.

You've got 24 hours in the day to fuel your body. Your final meal should be before bed. What?! That's right, keep the fire burning into the night by fueling with the right kind of fuel before bed. A slow digesting protein works really well. Carbs at night = four letter word. No, no on carbs. It's critical to have the right fuel at the right time.

There's your three M approach to a metabolic make over. Get things heated up, burn more calories by getting your morning off to the right start, by increasing your muscle mass, and by making your meals count. Your metabolism is counting on it!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's In Your Letter?

by Kris Pitcher

I got a letter the other day. The kind that the post "person" brings and puts in the mailbox. You know, it comes in an envelope and is written on paper. A letter!

I really needed it too, because I had been struggling with this certain thing. I'd been conflicted about it, going back and forth...unsure if I could really make it happen. And just at the right time, the letter came.

The letter was penned by a good friend. It said all the things my dear friend might say. It didn't include any of the things I might hear from myself. There weren't any uncertainties, any "I'm not sure," or "Maybe I can't". The letter just stated how strong I was, how confident and smart. It talked about how professional and determined I was, and how I'm good at what I do.

And here's my secret...I wrote the letter to myself! When you are struggling with something, when you feel conflicted or you are lacking confidence all you need to do is think of what your closest friend would tell you.

What would he/she say? What would they write to you? Now, they are going to be honest with you. This is the friend who will tell you when you actually do have spinach in your teeth.

This friend will tell you just how much you really are capable of. They'll tell you you can do it. They'll tell you that you will do it. You are strong and capable, you are confident and able. And you are determined, skilled, and have a lot to offer.

Get yourself a piece of paper. It starts like this: Dear Self,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Re-Believe In You

by Kris Pitcher

We need reminders in our lives. My reminder for today is about belief. In Ice Age: The Meltdown, Ellie who is clearly a mammoth...believes she is an opossum.

Her brothers are opossums and so having been brought up with them, she believes she is one too. I'm like Ellie, I think we are what we believe we are. But maybe not in such literal terms.

For instance, if someone tells you that you are weak, insecure, and without value - you become those things if you believe it. On the other hand, if you don't believe it, it doesn't matter how much that person tells you those untruths...you know it isn't you.

If you tell yourself you can't do it, sure enough you can't. It's all in what you believe yourself to be. Do your behaviors follow who you want to be? Who you believe yourself to be? Or, do they follow what others say you are...or what you've been mindlessly repeating in your head?

The point is that it is up to you. What you believe about who you are is completely up to you. No one defines that but you. If you haven't been the person you'd like, redefine who you are. Reinvent, re-believe in you.

Statements of affirmation help us get the process going. You should try them, until you believe them. "I am strong and confident." "I am in control of my choices." "I am worth taking care of." "I deserve to be cared for." "I am supported in my efforts." "I am making choices to reach my goals."

Whatever reminders you need to start believing in yourself, you owe them to...well, you! We all need reminders from time to time. Start reminding yourself today.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Exercise and Insulin Sensitivity

by Kris Pitcher

We all know we're supposed to exercise. It's good for us, right? But sometimes we forget why. We think about fitting into a certain size or looking a certain way. There are more important reasons to fit exercise into our schedule though.

Insulin is the hormone that helps us regulate our blood sugar levels. It's the shuttle system that helps get the glucose from our blood into our cells. When we have a situation where the insulin is shuttling the glucose in our blood, but the cells have become less receptive to that glucose...we have a problem.

The cells have become resistant, so now we can't control our blood sugar levels. Usually, there's a combination of things happening including inactivity and bad food choices. This is how we become diabetic. We've created a situation where we have blood sugar levels that are way too high, and we can't control them on our own.

Regular cardiovascular activity increases insulin sensitivity (of those receptor cells) so they can accept and store the glucose being shuttled by the insulin. Regular exercise helps us to make our own insulin too, so the diabetic can take less insulin to control blood sugar.

Insulin resistance and associated diabetes has problems that go along with it too. Things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation, and abdominal obesity (Strength Conditioning Journal 33 (5):40-43, 2011) all of which are reduced with regular cardiovascular exercise.

The next time you begrudge your cardio session think of your pancreas (the organ that secretes insulin) and know that you are fine tuning it's function. You are creating a situation of sensitivity within your fat and muscle cells so that you can maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Now, go do your cardio!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Fairytale For All The Princesses

by Kris Pitcher

I thought we could start the week out with a fairytale. This is a story about a princess named Holly, or Stacey, or Mariah. You fill in the name...it's your story.

Once upon a time there was a princess named Holly. She lived in a beautiful fortress in the middle of Candy Valley. Candy Valley was surrounded by the foothills of Ice Cream Mountain...it was such a beautiful place. And her castle was nestled in between the Nosh Noll, and the beautiful babbling Dark Chocolate Brook.

Now, the princess was strong, very strong. She would sit in her castle and look at her beautiful pink ballet slippers. They sat in the corner of her high tower catching dust in the corners of their delicately folded satin ribbons. She wanted nothing more than to slip them on and dance. The freedom those slippers would bring her! She imagined swirling and twirling, dancing and bounding about her castle. Yet in the corner they sat.

The princess instead donned her suit of armour to protect her fortress. Because even with all her strength, living in the middle of Candy Valley was difficult. She constantly found herself fighting off temptation. The princess needed her shield to fight everything surrounding her.

But her armour weighed heavy and eventually she just wanted to shed it regardless of what might happen. Sometimes the outcome was not good. And there she found herself once again, no armour faced with temptation all around her.

But Holly the princess was strong and she knew what she wanted. She wanted those ballet slippers. So, as she found herself with the weight of the armour lifted she ran to those slippers. The princess laced the beautiful shiny ribbons around her ankles and she danced her way out of Candy Valley.

She twirled passed Nosh Noll, and plied right over the Dark Chocolate Brook. This princess was free! And what she found was she had that freedom all along. She had the freedom to create the castle she wanted to live in. The one she would not have to protect herself from.

She found that no princess could bear the weight of that armour, and that she had carried it for long enough. She had the freedom within her the whole time.

And she danced, and she danced...and she lived happily ever after.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Recipe to Banish Dry Winter Skin

by Kris Pitcher

Sunday is a great time to spend time in the kitchen. But today we won't be noshing on home baked goodies. Today, we'll be uncovering your summer glow in the dead of winter. It's time to banish the family and find some alone time because we're cooking up some pampering!

Winter can take a toll on our skin regardless of the climate we live in. Wind, rain, snow, sleet, too much sun (we hate you) all of the elements along with our body turning it's own new leaf, and we can be a scaly mess. So, let's exfoliate!

Vanilla Bean Exfoliating Paste:
2 T white rice
2 T coffee beans
1 fresh vanilla bean, cut into small pieces
1/2 C natural plain yogurt

Mix rice, coffee beans, and vanilla bean into a powder in a coffee grinder. Pour into a mixing bowl and add a bit of warm water to make a paste.
Apply to body, and rub vigorously to exfoliate dead skin. Rinse in the tub or shower. Follow by smoothing yogurt over exfoliated areas to soothe and moisturize. Rinse with warm water.
Store any excess vanilla paste in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

*I didn't have a vanilla bean on hand...so I substituted 10 drops of vanilla essential oil. Have fun, you deserve some pampering!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Your Taxes On The Table

by Kris Pitcher

It's tax season and while you're thinking about that shoe box where you "file" your receipts I thought I'd throw a little tax information out there. Did you know that your U.S. taxes subsidize the food industry?

But not all foods are created equal when it comes to getting help from the government. According to Thomas Kostigen, author of The Big Handout, the average U.S. household contributes about $1,500 in taxes annually to food subsidies.

Over a 15 year time period, the corn industry got a whopping $77.1 billion (with a B) in subsidies. Now, maybe $5.1 billion a year is no big deal. I don't really know. But it sounds like a lot of money for corn. I realize we feed other nations...and there is merit to that - but mostly I think we're making a lot of corn syrup.

Wheat is a close second with a $32.4 billion dollar subsidy over a 15 year period (1995-2010). Soybeans, one of the most highly genetically modified crop in the U.S. (91% according to the Institute for Responsible Technology) was subsidized at the tune of $24.3 billion.

But the big kicker is that over a fifteen year period vegetables such as tomatoes, broccoli and lettuce...zero. Zero. In 15 years. Tobacco even got a $1.1 billion dollar allowance (thanks for your help btw). There was some reported subsidy for the apple industry at $262 million, for blueberries at $207, 659. Blueberries got just about $13,843 per year. I'm not sure how that would even help one farmer?

So, if your money is where your mouth is...we certainly can't vote with our shopping cart. It doesn't work that way. You've got to let your representatives know you'd like to support lettuce instead of corn. If that is the case. I guess I just never thought about how my taxes were supporting the food industry.

When I think about it, and about the way I eat...it's pretty much backwards. We're spending the most on the things that make us fat. We're making corn syrup. Meanwhile, we're spending the least on vegetables. They aren't stable. We can't get them to the table fast enough etc. But what if we at least tried?

Becoming aware of how you eat, how you spend, where you shop, whether you support your local growers and markets - and how your tax dollars are allocated make you a more informed consumer. Nutrition is all about choices. Vote with your voice. Looking for something to do? Call your Congress Person. Your taxes are on the table.

Friday, January 20, 2012


by Kris Pitcher

You were going to do it in the morning. First. Thing. The alarm was set. You hit snooze. Seven times. You thought you could do it later. Maybe on your lunch hour.

Only hitting snooze seven times made you a little late and you didn't quite get your gym bag packed. You meant to do it the night before but figured you would have plenty of time. But that's OK because you keep a pair of walking shoes in the bottom desk drawer.

Except you forgot about that "working" lunch meeting you agreed to. So, there goes that idea. Before you know it the day is over and you're just going to stop home and get your stuff and then hit the gym...except you never quite make it back out of the house.

How does this keep happening? Procrastination. We put things off because we think there will be a better time to do it. Especially with exercise. I've got a secret for you - there is no better time.

There will never be a better time. There won't be a more convenient time. You won't ever have more time. Later will never become more convenient. Putting it off won't make it go away or make it so you don't actually need to do it. You're backside will still look the same. Still.

So, instead of putting it off, or trying to fool yourself any longer...let's just make a pinkie swear to just go ahead and get it done. Just get up 30 minutes earlier and do it. Just pack your bag for the gym now. Just prep your food the night before. Just fill your water bottle before you sit down at the computer. Just. Just. Just!

Just stop waiting until later. Stop procrastinating. Here's another gem of a secret...no one is going to do it for you either. So, there you go. It's not going to happen without you. Stop being surprised when it doesn't. Procrastination is for don'ters. You are a doer! Get doing!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Much Protein Do I Need?

by Kris Pitcher

We've talked about protein before, but it seems to be a topic of interest and ongoing discussion. There is confusion regarding how much we need, when we should eat it and what we should eat. We can get in the weeds on this topic, or we can look at the big picture.

We're going to look at the big picture. Protein is our most muscle sparing macronutrient. All hail protein! We need it. We can consume more of it than previously thought.

In fact, it used to be generally accepted that we could assimilate 20-30 grams per sitting. So, the recommendation was to eat that amount every 2-3 hours. Not a bad idea. However, we are constantly learning new things. And one of those new things is that we can assimilate more than the 20-30 gms previously thought.

But we're going to stay out of the weeds here. The point is we can eat and use a lot of protein. It's not going to tax your system. Your kidneys can process it just fine.

As a general rule, we can take in 1 gram of protein for every pound of our desired weight. Translation - if you're 150 pounds and you would like to be 175, take in 175 grams of protein. There are a number of other more specific recommendations based on lean body mass, and other "in the weeds" methods. But, quite simply, you know what you'd like to weigh.

Our best sources of protein are from whole foods including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes and dairy. You can substitute with protein powders made from whey, casein or egg. Nutrient timing is important, but if we are thinking big picture - get your total in for the day.

You have 24 hours in the day. You need to get your nutrients in during your waking hours. It makes sense to fuel around your work, your exercise etc. It makes sense to portion out your nutrients and spread them out throughout the day. Do what makes sense. What makes sense works.

First thing in the morning you want a fast digesting protein, like a whey. During the day you want variety and for your last meal right before you tuck into bed, you want a slow digesting protein like a casein, or a few egg whites. Yum! Egg whites are my go to bed time meal.

Most avid strength trainers likely take in more than the above recommendation. Nutrients taken in above and beyond what you need and can use will be converted and stored as fat. If you're getting fat...you're eating too much. Simple. If you're struggling to make gains, you may need to assess your protein intake and increase it.

That's the big picture answer for when and how much protein you need. I hope that's helpful. It really doesn't need to be any more difficult than that.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Cat Gave Me Oxytocin

by Kris Pitcher

That's right, my cat gives me drugs. She gives me important drugs, drugs that I can't buy. My cat gives me oxytocin. And if you have an animal that you love and hug...they're giving it to you too.

Oxytocin is a hormone released by the pituitary gland. It's our feel good hormone released when we're hugging, touching, or...um...doing adult stuff. But we're just talking about hugging today. Just hugging.

It's true that hugging, or petting, an animal reduces your blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels. It releases oxytocin which makes you feel good. It produces feelings of bonding with that animal. It's the same with people too.

It's the hormone released which promotes social recognition and bonding between mother and child, and between partners. Oxytocin is important for our happiness. Hugging is important.

Some people are huggers, and some people just aren't. And that's OK. But oxytocin is important in increasing trust and reducing fear. It makes sense that if we feel bonded with someone we feel safe with them. We feel a sense of trust with them. We can thank our oxytocin for that.

Give someone a hug today. Hug your cat or your dog. Hugging increases your output of oxytocin and we all need to feel good inside! Now, where is that cat?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What Gear Are You In?

by Kris Pitcher

If you've ever driven a car with a manual transmission you know that you can't start out from a stop in second gear. Sure, you can try. You put the clutch in, feather the gas and lug, lug, lug. Nothing!

Quickly realizing you're in the wrong gear you can shift into first and get moving before the cars around you start honking and shaking their fists at you. Or, you kill the engine and get all flustered with the radio blaring.

If you've found yourself all flustered about your exercise plan with the radio blaring at a complete stop...you've tried to start out in second gear. And you may have killed your engine. But all we need to do is take a deep breath, put it neutral and turn the key. We can get this thing going again.

Starting out at the right pace is really important to our success. Maintaining a reasonable pace will help us continue to be successful. Going all out is difficult to sustain for any length of time. And, the reality is if we can't sustain it - we aren't going to do it.

Setting realistic expectations for our program based on our lives is important. We need to be realistic about what we can do. If you have three days of the week when you can make it to the gym and you're trying to do a five day split...well, I don't have to be a rocket scientist to tell you that's not going to work.

Check in with your expectations, with your plan and your goals. Is your program realistic? Are you in the right gear? Making small changes will help us incorporate them into our lifestyle. It's the lifestyle changes that are going to make us successful over time.

So, get behind the wheel. You're in the driver's seat here...just make sure you know where you're going. Make sure you've got your map, and you're starting out in the right gear!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Never Miss A Bliss!

by Kris Pitcher

I thought I'd point out a few features and do-dads I've added to the blog over time. Did you know Fitness Bliss will come right to your doorstep?

Well, virtually. You can register to have it come right to your email. You might have enough email for a small nation and that is the LAST thing you'd ever do. But, it's one way to make sure you never miss your Bliss. I'm not going to do anything with your email address. I won't send you offers for pharmaceuticals, or dating services, or lottery winnings out of country. You'll just get "Fitness Bliss With Kris".

Another thing you will see are banners along the right hand side. If you're gonna shop, why not shop here. A click through from my blog will get me a piece of the action when you shop with the companies. Bodybuilding com, Brooks, ebags, luminosity brain games, Chinese Laundry, Body Candy, Ice Wraps, Uniform City, Design A Shirt, and Protein Factory. There's something for everyone.

I have an affiliate status with these folks and if you shop with them I get a few cents to help support my writing habit. If you're shopping at any of those companies anyway, why not throw me a bone? Check out the banners, and click through. Happy shopping!

Did you know you can tweet me? Sure, on the right hand side of the blog if you scroll down you can "Share". Sharing is nice. You can tweet, or repost and share with your friends so when you're smiling to yourself, they'll know why.

There's my shameless self-promotion of the century. I'd love to increase my reader base and share my sparkling, hilarious sense of humor and great knowledge with more people this year.

And to do that, I need your help. Spread the love, share the blog. And above all, thank you for being such great readers. I love hearing your feedback - it truly keeps me writing.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Think It True

by Kris Pitcher

What you think, you do. So, why not think it true? Are you aware of the power of your mind? You have a very strong and forceful tool at your disposal to help you in this process. And nine times out of ten...we're not using it.

You've heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's thinking something true. Where you believe something and then it happens. What happens is you attract energy based on what you believe.

Quick get the candles out! Just kidding. But, it's true! You attract energy to you based on what you believe. If you believe the world is full of scammers trying to cheat you. Guess what? You get scammers trying to cheat you.

On the other hand you can attract what ever you set your mind to. Some people create visual cues, like a picture on the refrigerator, or a whole vision board of what they want in their life.

Now, I'm not advocating a giant craft project that will never get finished. I'm suggesting you begin to choose your thoughts, choose the energy you attract. If you want something in your life, a visual cue strategically placed is a strong tool.

I have a contest picture on the refrigerator. It reminds me why I eat the way I do. It reminds me how strong I am, and that I can make choices that will uncover that physique...or better.

Positive people who attract good into their lives work at it. It doesn't happen by accident. They are attracting it by thinking about it and bringing it into their consciousness. And you can do that too.

Write down statements of what you want in your life. Make those things real by "announcing" them to yourself and the universe. Remind yourself of those things as much as needed and think about them. You will begin to attract them into your life. You can think it true!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why Weekends Are Your Weakness

by Kris Pitcher

Things are going great during the week. You've got your meals planned, you're taking them to work, you're drinking your water and making it to the gym. During the week you're even getting to bed on time...so what gives come Saturday?

The weekends are a great struggle for a lot of people. One of the biggest reasons is we don't maintain our schedule. It begins Friday night when we stay up later than usual. Sometimes we stay up MUCH later than usual. This kicks off a sleep-wake cycle that is completely interrupted.

Then Saturday we sleep in. We don't really feel like doing our cardio and besides we might need to get going if the family has activities. If we haven't gotten ourselves up before the crowd there's no chance we're going to get what we need. Am I right?

On the weekends we are fighting traditions. Maybe the family wants to eat pancakes, or you always fix waffles on Sunday mornings. Those are the kinds of things you need to begin to plan around.

We are on the go all weekend. If you have kids, every one is going in a different direction. There are sports to get to, birthday parties, homework projects and the like. You are busy facilitating every one else and you're plan goes by the way side.

The key is to stay on schedule beginning with Friday night. You might want to catch a movie, but maintaining a close sleep-wake cycle is really important to your weekend success. So, if you usually go to bed at 9 PM, no later than 10 PM.

Saturday you need to get up before the crew if you have one, or just plain get up and get going. You need to treat this like a normal day. Get your morning cardio in, pack your meals and you are ready for what ever the day has in store.

Whether you're shopping with girl friends, watching the game with the guys, or running the kids all around - you need to have your meals with you. It's just like M-F. (That's why I carry a big purse when we go shopping, or to the movie.)

Keep yourself on schedule over the weekends and you will stay on track toward your goals. Taking two steps forward and one step back every week can be so frustrating. But weekends don't have to be your weakness. You've just got to follow the plan!  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why You Don't Shake Hands With Toddlers

by Kris Pitcher

There's a reason toddlers always have their hands in their pants. It's not because they have to go to the bathroom. It's not because it's scratchy. It's because it feels good. Cue. Crickets.

Stay with me here. From a very early age, we want instant gratification. Let's face it, having our hands in our pants is gratifying.

Now...we can't go around like this for very long. And we learn rather quickly that this isn't acceptable behavior. You know that's not acceptable right?

We want things right now. I don't mean fast. I mean lightning fast. Faster than fast. We want things "hands in your pants fast". But that's not how the world works. We have to work for things, and things take time.

Progress toward our goals takes time. Getting rid of that last bit of stubborn fat on our hips/belly/thighs/butt etc. takes time...a long time. We have to stay committed to the process. It's anything but instant.

Our strength doesn't just magically increase like a super hero. I can't leg press 450 today and then 630 next week. It takes a little longer to make that kind of increase. Intrinsically we know this, yet we get frustrated when things aren't happening fast.

We're going to keep doing this for a long time. We don't get to a point where we hit a goal and just quit. Say it with me Blissers: we only have to do weight management as long as we want it to work.

We're getting good at that. Instant gratification isn't possible for most aspects of our lives, especially for our health and fitness goals. Keeping this in mind will keep frustration at bay. And that my friends, is why you don't shake hands with toddlers.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Your Biggest Muscle Mistake

by Kris Pitcher

I know that in my spy training, at the spy museum in Washington DC, I was taught to vary my route as not to be followed. Well, let's just say I would be made in a matter of minutes. My patterns are pretty predictable.

While I may not make a good spy, although you might want to watch your six just in case, I do vary my workout routine. And that is most people's biggest muscle mistake. Doing the same exercises all the time.

There are a couple of things going on. We do what we're comfortable with. And we're lazy exercisers. Now that you're done denying it, go on and admit that you just want to get in there and get it over with as fast as you can.

We consistently go to the exercises we are familiar with, to the ones we know and are comfortable with. The problem with this is we are not challenging our muscles. We need variety and different stimulus in order to progressively challenge and grow. So, give up the leg press and do something you haven't done for a while like squats, or stationary lunges, or single leg press...or anything different. Change it up.

I'm sorry I called you lazy, but you just never want to try new things. You don't want to step outside your comfort zone. This is where enlisting the help of a professional trainer is a really smart idea. That person is there to push you, to get you to do the exercises you avoid and to make you work hard on your least favorite body part.

The problem with these big muscle mistakes is you never see any progress. Change things up and get yourself to increase your intensity in order to shake off any spies who might be on your tail.

OK, maybe there aren't any spies on your tail in the gym (that you know of), but these things will help you make some progress and reach some new goals.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Round Up The Troops!

by Kris Pitcher

You heard me. Round 'em up! Bring 'em in! We need to call in the troops! Sure, the first day was easy. You were ready to go...all motivated and stuff. Then it was a little harder. And shoot, it's cold in the morning and you don't want to get out of bed to exercise!

Enough of that, the troops are on their way in. And you need their support. Think of them in all their armor, with their weapons against excuses. They are about to be your best friend.

We want to help!
Who are they? Well, they might be your family, your friends, or your co-workers. They might include your facebook friends who know you're working on your fitness, or the instructor of your Wednesday night class. The troops might include the grocery checker or the nice lady at the post office.

Whoever you told you were going to do this...they are in your army. Those are the people who support you. And - newsflash - they don't know you are struggling in silence. Because of the silence.

You have to let the troops know you're having a hard time. You have to make appointments with them to meet at the gym, or grocery shop together if you can't be trusted to put the right things in the cart. It's up to you to enlist the troops.

I know you thought you'd be a tough guy/gal and do this all on your own...but none of us do this all on our own. We all have a team of support. We have our troops. So, shake it off and get on track like you meant to at the first of the year. All you need to do is round up the troops!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Are You Fappy?

by Kris Pitcher

If you're fappy and you know it clap your hands! Isn't that how that song goes? No, it isn't. But I know a lot of fappy people. They go around thinking they're happy...but they're really not.

They're false-happy. Fappy. They're medicating with food, with alcohol, trying to fill a void...trying to fill themselves with happiness. The problem is it works for a very short time. It's a situation of instant gratification. Then there's the aftermath.

There's the remorse, the guilt, the disgust at yourself for not being in control. You're not happy at all. The food works for a quick fix. It goes down fast and puts you right in your happy spot. It's like the heroin chic of chips once you hit the bottom of that bag.

The problem is you have to break the habit, the cycle, of the quick fix behavior. You have to be willing to deal with feelings and find other ways to de-stress. You have to be willing to be present in your lives to truly find happiness.

Being in control and making choices in alignment with your goals will make you truly happy. And you can certainly enjoy good food, yummy food...it all needs to be worked into your plan at the right times.

If you've been kidding yourself with fappiness it's time to look in the mirror and find true happiness. You deserve nothing less. This should be the year you look to new things to make you happy. This should be the year you find happiness within.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Meet the Jealous Haters

by Kris Pitcher

Someone recently told me I was positive and I'm pretty sure he didn't mean "certain". I am a positive person, and that is a choice. It isn't an easy choice...it's a choice I may have to remind myself of several times a day on a difficult day.

I wish I had her...
From my perspective, if you go around filled with hate for someone or something...or nothing in particular, you're not hurting that person or that thing. What you're hurting is you. And where does that get you?

It gets you bitter, angry and eventually you're the person grumbling to yourself at the post office. We think it's going to "really show them", or "stick it to them". But "they" don't even know you're hating on them. So I don't see the point in going around with that disposition.

The same goes for feelings of jealousy. We have all felt jealous at some time or another. But constantly being filled with this emotion only affects you. It makes you crazy as it chips away at your self worth. And again, for what?

You can make the choice to feel confident rather than jealous, to feel positive rather than filled with contempt. In the beginning you may be welling up with negative feelings. Fake it. You have to learn a new habit.

Let the jealous haters go. They are sucking the life force right out of you and leaving you tired and mad. Choose something different. Create new thought patterns by faking it till you make it. I'm positive you can do it. *Smile.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bad Betty

by Kris Pitcher

We all have friends. We have great friends, old friends, friends who support us and you guessed it..."Bad Betty" friends. Whether it's your college room mate, the playgroup ladies, or the crew you grew up with we all have Bad Betty's in our mix.

The Bad Betty is the friend you gorge on pizza with on Saturday nights in your pajamas, or the friend you end up doing tequila shots with when you go out "for a glass of wine".

The problem with Betty is she brings out the worst behavior in you...bad behavior. She brings out behavior you are WAY past. Together the two of you do things you wouldn't want your kids to find out about. You do things that teenagers aren't even doing anymore. And usually, OK always, this is extremely calorically devastating to your goals.

The setbacks associated with Betty are seriously holding you back. They are keeping you from reaching your goals and they are steering you off course. And chances are Betty isn't benefiting from the flashback to the 80's either. Or 90's, or when ever you happened to have your hay day.

So how do you handle Bad Betty? You can certainly have a conversation about it. "You know Betty when we get together our weekends get a little out of hand. How would you like to have a spa weekend instead of a party weekend?" I bet you could find ways to spend time together that aren't just a reversion to what's most comfortable.

And if that cramps Betty's style then spending less time together is an option. "I appreciate the offer to go out for drinks, but I'm headed to the gym Friday night. I'll catch you guys another time."

Don't feed into being a Bad Betty or let Betty feed your bad behavior. The key to dealing with friends who sabotage your efforts is staying clear about what your goals are, recognizing the changes in your actions when you're together, and being honest with your friend about what's important to you. Chances are they'll understand.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Blindside

by Kris Pitcher

No one sees the blindside coming. That's why it's called a "blindside". If you're a Survivor aficionado you are very familiar with all sides of the blindside (BS).

Now, I've been on both sides of the BS and frankly it's no fun to be on either side of it. Having seen lots of Survivor episodes, you might even be able to sense or smell the BS coming...but you're never really prepared for what's about to hit you.

So, the other morning I decided I was going to step on the scale. Sure I'd enjoyed the holidays. Quite a lot actually. I knew what was coming. I wasn't about to be blindsided by the number. And hey, my pants were a little loser even in just a week of clean eating.

But when I stepped on there! Wow! Was I shocked. Blindsided like your worst tribal council nightmare. I looked down at my feet and back up at the balancing weight. Yep, there it was right in front of me. The naked truth.

Caught off guard yet knowing what's coming? How does that happen? Well, I hadn't stepped foot on that scale in at least six weeks. And like I said, I enjoyed the month of December in all it's glory.

If we aren't paying attention, things creep up on us. And we shouldn't really be surprised when they do? Right? Right. It might be smart to step on the scale a little more frequently, to touch base with where we're at.

Don't get BS'd by slacking off your program when things start going well. As you begin to make progress this is the time to be even more vigilant. It's the time to keep doing all the right things and stay on top of your plan.

Congratulations on the progress you're making in 2012! Keep your eyes open and your feet moving!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Stress Diet

by Kris Pitcher

With the first week of the New Year coming to a close I thought you might be starting to feel stressed out about the changes you've been working on in your life. As I was thinking about this, low and behold...I came across "The Stress Diet"

1/2 grapefruit
1 piece whole wheat toast
8 oz. skim milk

4 oz. lean broiled chicken breast
1 cup steamed zucchini
1 Oreo cookie
Herb tea

Afternoon Snack:
Rest of the package of Oreo cookies
1 quart Rocky Road ice cream
1 jar hot fudge

2 loaves garlic bread
Large mushroom and pepperoni pizza
Large pitcher beer
3 Milky Way bars
Entire frozen cheesecake, eaten directly from the freezer

Now I KNOW you haven't thrown in the towel quite yet! So much of how we deal with stress is learned behavior and that certainly goes for comfort food. Managing your stress with regular exercise, clean eating, and a positive outlook will have you on your way to success this year.

Replacing learned behaviors like eating, with other enjoyable things is the key. Whether it's a hobby, reading, painting your nails, writing poetry, working in the garden, or taking a bubble bath...you need to replace one behavior for another. Make a cup of tea and relax into the New Year!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Perfection Rejection

by Kris Pitcher

Your success this year relies on many things. Throwing out some of our ideas about ourselves would be a good place to start. So this year, we're starting with perfection rejection.

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while this isn't news. But for the rest of you...you're not perfect. None of us are. I know this may come as a shock to you. We'll wait while you calm down...

The trouble with trying to be perfect is it sets us up for failure and constant disappointment. The first thing we need to let go of is our all or none thinking. When we work toward something, there needs to be a point where it's good enough. A project can't be perfect. Perfect isn't achievable.

Often, good enough is darn great. Being able to identify that middle ground helps us accomplish more things in the long run, and allows us to be happy with the outcome. A lot of times it's our all or none thinking that has us doing everything ourselves because no one else can do it good enough. Hey, if the dishwasher is loaded...it's loaded. It doesn't matter if it's exactly the way you'd do it.

Next we need to get rid of our critical eye. This goes for how we see ourselves, and how we see others. If you've ever been in a pack of women at the mall you know what I'm talking about. Let go of it. Focusing on imperfections is negative and feeds on unrealistic standards. Again, we're not perfect.

Allow yourself to have flaws. We all have flaws. Constantly pointing them out to ourselves or apologizing for them publicly just sends the wrong message. Focus instead on the things that you are happy with, the things you like about yourself.

Perfection rejection means letting go of the disappointment over every unmet unrealistic standard and goal. Knowing that you are not perfect will help you set realistic goals. As you reach your goal successfully you'll feel confident and happy about setting new goals.

Rest assured that this year you don't have to be perfect. You can give up the perfectionist things that have been holding you back and disappointing you. Give it up for perfection rejection!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Exercise Induced Amenorrhea

by Kris Pitcher

I'm not bragging, but I'll turn 42 next month. And with approximately 30 years of experience...I thought I knew a lot about my period. Cue crickets... Well, as it turns out that film strip in sixth grade didn't teach me everything I needed to know. Not exactly.

A lot of female athletes and figure/fitness/bodybuilding competitors especially deal with interruptions in their menstrual cycle. Guys, don't leave just yet. You might learn something here.

Secondary amenorrhea is the absence of three or more consecutive menstrual cycles. Yeah! I can't wait, right?! Well, maybe, and maybe not. Amenorrhea happens in between 2-5% of the general population, and in up to 44% of exercising women.

Some of the things associated with causing exercise-induced amenorrhea are low percent body fat, rapid weight loss, sudden onset of vigorous exercise, nutritional deprivation, disordered eating and energy imbalance. It can also be brought on by psychological and physical stress.

Sounds a bit like contest prep to me. One interesting thing, which I did not learn in the film strip, is that normal menstrual cycle functioning requires regulated feedback systems involving the hypothalamus, the anterior pituitary gland and the ovaries. Everything needs to be in working order and sending the right signals. Makes perfect sense, I just never thought about it.

So what if you miss a few periods? The primary concern is that this situation mimics menopause due to low estrogen. Estrogen is important for increasing our absorption and uptake of calcium. It helps us deposit calcium into our bones. So, the idea is prolonged secondary amenorrhea may result in premature osteoporosis.

I can tell you from experience, because I know you want to hear all about my period, that post competition within one month of eating healthy fats, increased energy intake, and decrease in exercise...that girl was back in action. And this has pretty much been my experience with each contest prep I've done. The key is getting your healthy fats back in - you need fat to make hormones.

The good news according to Constance M. Lebrun, M.D., FACSM is that many of the earlier thoughts about detrimental effects of excessive exercise on the female reproductive system have been largely dispelled.

It's widely agreed the health benefits associated with regular exercise outweigh the potential risks. There are a number of ways to treat secondary amenorrhea and you should always consult your physician for care. Now you know a little bit more about it. Period.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Muscle Soreness, DOMS

by Kris Pitcher

Did I forget to mention this was going to hurt a little bit? Now that we're back in the swing of things I can see by the way you are waddling down the hall and holding the handrail as you navigate the stairs that you are experiencing something...wonderful!

Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, is exactly what it sounds like. The first two days following your workout you feel localized pain, soreness, and/or stiffness in the muscle group/s you worked.

Some of us LIVE for this feeling. While others could just as well live without ever feeling this sensation again. Ever! You can have it either way. And you don't have to experience such tremendous DOMS that you can't get up or down from the toilet to indicate you've had a "good" workout.

We typically experience DOMS when we are new or returning to exercise, when we change what we're doing, increase the duration, or the intensity of our exercise. DOMS is caused by micro tears, or trauma, during the eccentric portion of a movement.

The eccentric contraction is a forceful contraction while the muscle is lengthening. For instance, in a dumbbell curl as you curl your biceps bringing the dumbbell up this is the concentric contraction, and as you lower the weight back down this is the eccentric contraction. The muscle is lengthening during the eccentric portion.

The way to prevent DOMS is to work a program which is slow in progression, and one that works in the 10-12 repetition range. Knowing whether you are motivated by the feeling of DOMS, or not, is important for you - and your trainer - and your program should be built around that.

We can do some things to reduce the soreness. We can employ RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), we can use gentle stretching, active recovery massage, and foam rolling. I love foam rolling for this.

The important thing is to understand you don't have to feel DOMS in order to have had a good workout. If you don't like that feeling, there is nothing wrong with you. There's also nothing wrong with you if you love not being able to walk down the stairs two days after leg day. You're OK.

You might remember "super slow" sets. This has sort of gone out of fashion because people really couldn't stand the intense DOMS created by the slow eccentric movements involved. But if you love DOMS, this is one way to make sure you experience it.

There you have it. That's why you're in pain. Stick with it though because your muscles will become accustomed to the input, the soreness will reduce and then it will be time to change things up! Happy lifting!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Losing Weight by Washing Dishes

by Kris Pitcher

I stood at the sink full of dirty dishes and I had an epiphany. No one was going to do this for me. I couldn't wish them away. The cat wasn't going to wash the dishes and they weren't going to disappear.

I could do them with resentment, feeling angry at the world. Or, I could wash the dishes, which I had dirtied, for the sake of having a clean kitchen...for me.

The way we approach our health and fitness goals is like washing dishes. If we have weight to lose we cannot wish it away. And no one is going to lose the weight for us. We can't close our eyes and reopen them to have the weight disappear from our thighs. It doesn't work like that.

We can go about the process with an attitude of entitlement and resentment. We can be angry at the world that somehow "they", "it", made us this way. Or we can take responsibility and do it for ourselves. It's the only perspective that makes sense to me.

It's the only perspective that makes this work. One of personal responsibility, doing it for yours truly. So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to do the work. You're finally ready to face your fears, to get your hands dirty and uncover the person you want to be.

Each action you take is one you have to take for yourself. You can look around and see if anyone is looking. But don't expect praise for doing what you're supposed to do. You're going to do this because it's the right thing to do...for you. Look for praise from within. That is where your strength lies.

And I'll be here to cheer you on. You have more support than you know. Now, roll up your sleeves the dishwater is getting cold.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Simple Gym Etiquette

by Kris Pitcher

Happy New Year! As we get ourselves geared up to hit the gym this New Year I thought we should cover some simple gym etiquette issues so you fit right in. One of the big fears is that you'll stand out like a sore thumb, and we don't want that.

First of all, it's important to note that legwarmers are back in fashion. You don't have to inhabit a cold climate to rock this fashion either. Guys, you need a strong attitude to pull this one off though.

Your style is important and shouldn't be over looked as you make your way back into the gym this year. It would be nice if you'd splurge for some things that fit you...now. Not at your goal weight. Just a suggestion.

Next, when you are staking out your treadmill it's critical you have all your technology handy. You're going to need your phone, your e-reader, your i pad, your water bottle or workout drink, your towel, and the news paper. Having all these items indicates to all the other members that this treadmill is yours. Whether you step away for a drink of water, a trip to the bathroom, or to chat with your neighbor...it's still yours.

In the weight room you're going to want to blend in. So, first of all hit that leg press. There is after all only one, and you want to look like you know what you're doing. Load that baby up with at least eight plates on each side. Oops! It's at its highest setting and you're a shorty. That's OK, just ease it down. Oh! Thank goodness for those safety stops.

Well, that was a little heavier than you thought but you can just walk away from this mess. And just leave those plates on there, you'll be doing the next guy a favor. Maybe you'll try your hand at some of those machine weights.

You see the abdominal machine and hone in on it. A few sets there and your six pack will be back, right? But you're only three sets in and some joker wants to "work in". What the heck? "Sure," you tell him, "I only have 3 more sets." Why is he looking at you like such a confused jerk, doesn't he know how this works?

After all that you're pretty spent, so you head back to your treadmill to get your stuff but it's gone and some lady is walking on it. When you ask her where your stuff is she says she turned it into the lost and found. This is where you start yelling and screaming about how that is your treadmill. You're fitting right in!

Now it's time to go to the front counter and talk to the manager on duty. But they start talking to you about policy and monopolizing equipment. Don't worry though, those rules aren't for you. And another manager will be there tomorrow...you can talk to them about it.

See when you're at the gym it's easy to blend in, to go with the flow of what everyone else is doing, and to follow simple gym etiquette. It's OK to spit in the drinking fountain, or in the hallway by the bathroom. It's cool to leave your weights all around, or just put them where ever. It's no problem to monopolize equipment, or to leave equipment all over the weight room. It's fine to hide all the handles to the cable machine so that only you know where they are. It's cool to leave your sweat on machines and benches for the next person to deal with, and to not wash your hands after you use the toilet.

The rules are for everyone but you. You don't have to clean your machine after you use it. Those towels and spray bottles aren't for you. And there are people to put all the weights in order after you use them.

The gym is about to get real busy people...it just takes a little bit of common sense to play together. There aren't "people", there's just you. Help us help you fit in. *smile