Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Taste Challenge

by Kris Pitcher

I might have told you that the week before I started my "diet" I just went back to my actual plan. What that meant was not extras. No extra bites of this, or licks of that. And in just one week of doing that...I'd lost a pound.

One pound! Then, someone smarter than me gave herself a challenge. No bites, licks or tastes. Think about that. While you're preparing meals, lunches, snacks for yourself or the bites. Not one lick, not one taste of what you're preparing. Not one. Could you do it?

There's a lot of mindless tasting going on. Lots of finishing the kids toasted cheese sandwiches, or french toast or whatever is left on their plates as you're clearing away dishes. Think of all the bites...yes, ALL the bites.

Think of the licks. Sure it's just a lick of peanut butter after making a sandwich for the kids. But, I didn't just fall off a turnip truck and I know what a knife full of peanut butter and jelly can do for you. Think of adding that up over a week, two weeks...sure, it's just a lick.

I was guilty of eating a few almonds each time I weighed out my ounce and put it in my container to take to work. What bites are you sneaking? What extras have widened your plan?

What if you challenged yourself to no bites, no licks, no tastes? I say, take the no taste challenge and see what you can do to put yourself on course. Eat what is on your plan, without the extras.

If you find there is food going to waste in the household, make smaller portions for the kids. You could always make another half a sandwich if they want more. You don't need to be eating what they leave behind.

Try it for two weeks and see what happens. Be mindful of where your bites come into play. Stick to your plan by taking the no taste challenge. Little things make big changes, and this one's proof of that! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hang Up The Scale

by Kris Pitcher

I cringed as I stepped on it. Would the number be good...or bad? Would it reflect the hard work I'd done? Would it stare back at me with a number I didn't deserve? What terrible truth would it tell me?

On Wednesday when I stepped on it, it was good to me. Then I stepped on it on Saturday...not so good. It's down, then it's up. And along with it is my mood. So what's a girl to do with her scale?

We need a break!
Take. A. Break. Period. I'm doing the work and my body is changing. I can tell by the way my clothes fit, and which clothes fit. My husband can tell I'm changing. He's got a good eye ;)

What I can't let happen is for the scale to determine whether I'm doing a good job or not. It's not measuring my fat loss. It's not measuring my lean body mass. It's not measuring whether I'm gaining muscle and losing fat, or whether I was dehydrated on Wednesday, or retaining water on Saturday. It's not measuring much of anything, really.

It's actually one of the last markers of progress. And I'm not just saying that because it's moving slowly for me. But it is just one measure.

Allowing the scale to weigh whether you will feel good, or bad, or whether you will binge or sabotage your plan is putting way too much into that number. It is after all only a number. I could tell you I weigh 140, or 120. Either way you would believe me, and either way - what would it matter?

It wouldn't matter. Your number doesn't matter either, that's the point. What matters is that we do the work. Keep doing the work, regardless of what the number says. Why? Because the changes are happening.

The changes are going to be slow, that's what makes them work. Hang in there even if it means hanging up the scale for a while. Take a break from the numbers and just do the work.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Carotenoids Super Nutrients

by Kris Pitcher

Some foods just seem to have super powers. Take carotenoids for example, super food. Well, super nutrient found in foods.

Carotenoids have vitamin A activity, meaning they can be converted to retinol. They act as antioxidents fighting off free radicals which damage our cells. These carotenoids enhance our immune function.

There are four we look for: beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, gama-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. Bioavailability of carotenoids is believed to be dependant on lipids, they're fat soluble. Combining these super nutrients with some healthy fats makes them a true super hero.

It's the carotenoids which give the color or pigment in red, yellow, and orange peppers. They're also prevalent in tomatoes, papaya, sweet potatoes, mangoes, kale, spinach, and carrots.

Keep the free radicals away and eat yourself younger looking by including carotenoid rich foods in your daily plan. Give yourself a rainbow of nutrients the next time you toss up a salad or add salsa to spice things up, and you'll be getting an important boost of carotenoids.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Embracing Your Happily

by Kris Pitcher

Think you'll be happily ever after you've hit your goal, or your goal weight? Think again. If you've created a fairy tale around this process, there may not be a happily ever after for you.

The good news? Your happily is right now. Embracing it is the problem. Waiting for some distant point in the future to pin your happiness on is setting yourself up to be unhappy for who knows how long.

I'll be happy in 15 pounds. Why not be happy right now? What will you have in 15 pounds that you don't have right now? Will your house be paid off? Will you be retired? Or, have the prefect job? Will you have completed the things on your life's "to do" list? What will be different?

Your life is happening right now. Memorial Day is a good time to remind us to live in the present. We are grateful for our freedoms, for those who have given the ultimate price for each of us. Many of us celebrate loved ones and lost ones on this day.

Put your process into perspective. Waiting is wanting what you don't have. Being happy now allows you to do the things you need to do in order to keep working toward your goals. Embracing your happily empowers you to care enough to take care of yourself. Today. After all, your happily is right now.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Strange Behavior

by Kris Pitcher

I wonder if people think my behavior is strange. I say that because I notice some VERY strange behavior all around me. Like just last week, I was on my way to work and saw a lady flossing her teeth at the bus stop.

At the bus stop. First of all, and I realize we all have our own system and order in life...but I floss and then brush. Doing it the other way around seems like it leaves your mouth unfinished.

But that is not the point of this. The point is, why is she flossing at the bus stop on her way to work?

Which leads me to remind you why you should be a good hand washer. You should be a good hand washer because flossing lady is all around town touching everything you're about to touch. Just saying.

I notice a lot of strange behavior at the gym just because that's where I am much of the time. We walked into the weight room Friday and in the huge space there were two other people besides us. One man was doing back extensions "Superman" style on all fours in between the benches.

He would alternate reaching one arm and then the other, stretching it to the hithers of the weight room. I wondered if he could maybe complete these exercises in the stretching area? Then there was Olive Oil lady.

She looks like Olive Oil with her long limbs and straight across bangs. She brings her own 2 pound weights (because the weight room does not have those) to complete her full body routine. She lays her mat down between the machine weights to do her 3,000 sit ups.

So, as we are doing our multiple sets on the seated hamstring curl we have to be careful not to step on her head. Remember there are only four people in the entire gym as we approach a holiday weekend.

Strange behavior. Again, I can't help but wonder if she could maybe do those sit ups in the stretching area? I do celebrate the fact that she is there, quite frequently doing her full body 2 pound regimen. Good for her!

And good for all the strange behavior really. It's what makes the world such a colorful place, or at least so interesting for me to watch. Keep your eye out for interesting and strange behavior, and watch your might just be you we're watching.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Watching What You Eat

by Kris Pitcher

When I used to manage a fitness facility I was amazed by this young teacher who would watch the Food Network for hours while she did cardio. I couldn't imagine the torture of watching that while I was exercising.

This bright eyed, change the world teacher went on to become a pastry chef. And she's probably still doing lots of cardio. But I'm not so amazed any more, I get the attraction.

There isn't much on TV at 4:30 AM when you don't have cable TV. There are however two cooking shows and one lifestyle show that often has cooking. I am now, watching what I eat.

Well, not what I eat...but what I could maybe someday on a cheat meal eat. The funny thing is it doesn't bother me or make me want things I can't have. I'm interested in the mechanics, in the science, and in the creativity of it all.

I love the travel involved in these shows and I can be an armchair world traveler right on my treadmill. We even have a name for this in our house..."food porn".

You can watch it, but you can't have it. And while for some it would seem torture, it almost normalizes the process for me. I often get ideas about things I forgot about. Like capers. Throw a few of those on top of some fish and suddenly, you've got fancy fish.

There are certainly lots of ways to keep yourself occupied while you're exercising. Not the least of which is watching TV. I don't know what you like to watch while you're doing cardio, but lately I've been watching what I eat.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Flush Fat Fast!

by Kris Pitcher

I'm just going to tell you how I feel. I'm not going to sugar coat this. I have a BIG problem with the word "flush". This a big marketing scam and it really chaps my hide.

It's not because I think you're not smart, but you're not smart enough to know that you cannot flush fat from your body. Well, that didn't come out right.

When someone tells you that you can flush the fat from your body, doesn't it just sound like you can drink their lemon minted water and the fat will literally wash from your insides right out into the toilet?

Maybe I'm not the smart one here, because I could be sitting on a PILE of cash if I was willing to tell you that you could do just that. But. I'm. Not.

Flush is a marketing word. When we hear it we think of ease, of simplicity, of rebirth. We don't think of countless hours of cardio and eating a healthy nutritional plan. We think of having the fat simply washed from our body. Easy.

Physiology doesn't work that way. In fact, it sounds so easy that I could flush it away today and then eat garbage and gain my comfort fat right back just to flush it away again. Right? It's about the mentality of washing it away rather than working it away.

We can make fat disappear. It takes a commitment to your nutrition and to your exercise. It takes a change in your mental philosophy about food, and how and why you eat. It takes a life time of lifestyle changes. Don't get flushed...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Are You Damaging Your Skin?

by Kris Pitcher

Oh the things we do to our skin! There are obvious things we do which can harm our skin but here are several damaging things that are prematurely aging your skin.

  • Insomnia - did you know that stress induced loss of sleep promotes premature aging of the skin.
  • Under active thyroid - the reduced hormone levels caused by hypothyroidism can cause dry, flaky skin.
  • Very low consumption of essential fatty acids - get your omegas in order to keep your skin from excessive dryness.
  • Eating highly processed foods - a diet high in overly processed foods promotes skin cell damage. Watch out for those free radicals...
  • Inflammation - causes puffiness, blemishes and pigmentation. Inflammation can be caused from foods and alcohol as well as systemic issues.
  • Elevated glucose levels - this can actually cause glycation, where sugars attach themselves to amino acids in collagen reducing its regenerative ability promoting wrinkles, sagging and "creping" skin.
There is a lot we can do from the inside out to take better care of our skin. It starts with eating a clean, balanced diet and drinking plenty of water. Follow that by getting enough rest, managing your daily stress, and paying attention to your environment and you may just keep yourself looking younger longer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Letter to My Diet

by Kris Pitcher

Dear Diet,

I'm really about to go out and find something else. It's not you, it's me. I mean, you've been good...I just feel like I want to cheat on you.

Sure, we've made a lot of progress. Yeah, it's working. We're working! But then I feel like I want to do what other couples are doing...

I know, it sounds so stupid. We're working. I'm seeing changes, but...I want something different.

See, I want something different - but I still want what WE have. Can't I have it both ways?

I mean, you said this would be long-term...and I did agree to be exclusive. But how LONG?! How long will it just be you and me?

What if I want something for me? What if I want...more...than 4 ounces at a time...

Yes, yes I want to make it to my goal. Yes! I see my body changing because of what we are doing together. And yes, I want that for myself...for the long haul.

And yes, I realize you're more than a diet to are my way of eating now...we are in this together because of what we can do and because of what we want.

Diet, we're in this together and you just have to know that there are days I don't love you. I guess that's normal. I feel like we can move ahead now that you know how I feel. Thank you for listening.



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Seasonal Allergies

by Kris Pitcher

It's that time of year isn't it? Everything is in bloom, the grass is freshly cut and oh boy you can hardly breathe! Seasonal allergies can be awful to deal with. But, there are some things you can do to cope.

There are things you can do for yourself, and some things to do for fido too. Here are a few of my favorite tips.

Groom your pets regularly, they can bring pollen into the house. Plus they'll feel special and smell good too. Wash your hair and clothes frequently to get rid of the pollen riding along on you. And while it may be "green" don't dry your clothes outside on the line. Use the dryer.

Minimize your exposure outside. This can be difficult especially if you enjoy exercising out doors. But if you suffer severely from allergies, spending more time inside is one way to cope. Especially doing your cardio inside will provide relief.

Mow the grass often, and wear a dust mask if you must mow it yourself. Where's that neighborhood kid when you need one? If you can have someone else do it, that's even better.

Keep the windows and doors closed to the house, and even keeping the windows up in the car is a good idea too. The idea is to limit the entry of those pollens and irritants.

Manage your symptoms either with over the counter products or by visiting an allergy specialist. Taking antihistamines when you know you're going to have exposure is a good idea, before you have symptoms.

Avoid mold by keeping leaves clear of gutters and from building up in the yard. Mold builds up and then once the air begins to warm those mold spores become mobile causing your allergies to flare up.

Taking a few precautions and extra steps can alleviate some of your allergy symptoms and make life a little bit more enjoyable this time of year. It's so nice out, it's a shame to be sneezing and wheezing!

Monday, May 21, 2012

What's Your Breakfast Profile?

by Kris Pitcher

It's true that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It's the meal which kicks us off on the right foot for the entire day. We can get this meal right, or get it wrong.

We've talked before about all the reasons why it's so important. After a good night's sleep we need to kick up our metabolism with some nutrients. It's a prime time to replenish after we've been hard at work building and repairing all night.

Most of us are in a hurry, so breakfast doesn't have to be big...but it should be smart. Some fast digesting whey protein is a nice way to get things going and that's what I do right after my morning cardio. Then I'm off to work.

My second breakfast, which is my first whole food meal is one I really look forward to. Each morning I heat it up at work and my colleague will ask, "What's for breakfast?" It's the same every day...collard greens and extra lean ground beef. I eat my oatmeal on the side.

It's the same because I like it. Lean protein, complex carbs and some fat. The combination keeps my blood sugar nice and steady, it's slow digesting and keeps me full until the next meal. It's the combination that's magical.

Your breakfast profile should look the same: lean protein, complex carbs, and some fats. Whether you want to blend it all up in a smoothie as you head out the door, or hard boil a couple of eggs to take with you along with a non-fat yogurt - your breakfast profile is what's important.

Even a smear of natural peanut butter on wheat toast can be a good start to the day. Finding what works for you is key. Planning ahead, and making it a practice is what makes breakfast work.

Get your brain working for you first thing in the morning by fueling up with the right breakfast profile. Choose the right combination to make your breakfast count!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Asparagus, Super Food!

by Kris Pitcher

This is a vegetable I LOVE! I seriously love asparagus and it is in peak season. Find it fresh at your local market and enjoy! But did you know it has lots of great, even super, benefits?

It contains glutathiane, a cancer fighting power house. Asparagus has more of it than any other fruit or vegetable, bragger...and it helps your body absorb nutrients.

One cup has 40 calories, 4 gm protein, and 4 gm fiber. This veggie keeps you feeling full! When you feel fuller longer, you have less chance of over eating. Fiber and protein in veggies?! How smart is that!

Asparagus also has heart healthy folic acid. It's full of great stuff. I bet you already knew it's a natural diuretic too. Go on, smell your pee...

The skinny ones are old, and the fat ones are young stalks. The younger stalks tend to be more tender. It's easy to prepare. Simply wash it and snap the ends where they naturally break. Then you can grill it, steam it, stir fry name it.

You want to look for bunches with buds that are tightly closed. And did you know white asparagus has just been given a sunshade? It has a more mild taste than the green stalks.

Packed with nutrients, fiber and protein asparagus is a spring time favorite. Super food? Get a bunch, you decide!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bad, Bad Habits

by Kris Pitcher

It's time to come clean with your bad habits. You know, those things you do which sabotage your plan and keep you from making progress? We need to not do them anymore.

You do them in secret, when no one's looking...or when you're just in a tail spin for one reason or another. They're things you wish you didn't do, or would like to change. Well, guess what - you can.

It's true that we are creatures of habit. And when those are bad habits we need to figure out what sets you off. Bad habits are really about triggers. What sets you off and puts you into bad habit mode?

Is stress a trigger for you?
Is your trigger your emotions. Bingo! It is for a lot of us. Taking time to be introspective and pay attention to how you're feeling can be enough to at least notice the emotion before you're elbow deep in the cookie jar.

What about the company you keep? Trigger! Yes, those girl's nights out can be brutal on your plan. And don't I know what it's like to get the girls together and have a few. Look out! Every thing's out the window as the bad, bad habits emerge. Maybe you girls need to hit the gym together instead of the lounge.

Maybe your trigger is the time of day. If you falter each afternoon and find yourself in the break room with handfuls of cookies, this is your weak moment. Isolating your trigger will take a little observation, and getting truthful about the habits you want to change. (Put down the cookie.)

Many of us are triggered by where we are. If we are in the kitchen, pretty soon we are standing in front of the open pantry snacking when we didn't even mean to. Or we're grazing the counter tops like a bad dog looking for things to snack on. Get out of the kitchen!

Figuring out what sets off your bad habits is your first step to retraining your patterns. When you pay attention you see patterns in your behavior. It's easy to program something else in that "bad habit" trigger zone once we figure out what it is.

Changing our habits takes replacing the bad ones with better ones. Exchange the one you want to change with a new one. Pretty soon you'll be in a new pattern, a better pattern. It all starts with figuring out what your triggers are. Pay attention and change those bad, bad habits. It's time to make some progress!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Scared of a Carrot

by Kris Pitcher

There are a few veggies getting a bad wrap. It's an issue of not really seeing the big picture, or maybe understanding a little information but not quite how to apply it.

Vegetables are great and we should eat a whole bunch of them. We should eat all kinds without discrimination for color. And we should understand what it means to be a "sugary" vegetable.

We've over simplified the facts about vegetables high in sugar and we aren't touching them with a ten foot pole. But for what? And why are you so scared of a carrot?

When we talk about veggies high on the glycemic index we are talking about them in comparison with white bread, gram for gram. What we aren't considering is what else that veggie has going for it.

Look at carrots. Sure, they're a bit higher on the glycemic index...but let's look at their break down. A cup of carrots is 52 calories, 12 gm carbs, 4 gm fiber, 6 gm sugar, 1 gm protein. It's estimated glycemic load is 3. The USDA recommends a load no greater than 100 for the entire day. Umm, OK 3.

That cup of carrots also delivers 428% of your daily dose of vitamin A. It's got vitamin C, iron and calcium. Hopefully you are eating those carrots with other items further slowing it's digestion and glycemic load. See, not so scary.

How about red bell peppers - also getting the cold shoulder lately. A cup has 46 calories, 9 gm carbs, 3 gm fiber, 6 gm sugar, 1 gm of protein. It serves up 317% of your daily dose of vitamin C as well as giving you iron, vitamin A and calcium. Like carrots, it has a glycemic load of 3.

Certainly we can make room in our stir fry, our salad, or our snack mix for these and other delicious veggies. When we eat these along with complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats their digestion rate is slowed further. These veggies fit into our plan and provide important nutrients, great variety and wonderful taste.

To stay away from them because of their 6 grams of sugar makes as little sense as eating snackwell cookies. Keep the big picture in mind while you're on the road to healthy eating. Don't get lost with a little bit of information.

A wide variety of vegetables in all colors make perfect sense. Sweet peas, carrots, red bell peppers...yes please!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Restaurant Dieting

by Kris Pitcher

We all have occasion to need to go to a restaurant while we are dieting. I was at a lunch meeting recently and my meeting partner said, "How do I stay on my Atkins's plan with this menu?"

I asked him if he wanted me to tell him, and he did. We each had the steak salad, no blue cheese, balsamic dressing on the side. We went on to have a very productive meeting, and delicious lunch. But it can be a little scary to have to eat out while staying on plan.

Your first plan of action is to be prepared. This means don't go hungry. Eat what you are supposed to eat before you even go. You can always eat a house salad without dressing just to be eating something. Yes, I've eaten in the car just before or just after trips to restaurants.

You can select and suggest restaurants based on a menu you know is going to work for you. Look on line at menus before you go and determine what is going to work. This takes planning, but isn't that the business we're in?

Order a la cart. Usually you can find things that are going to work for you when you order item by item. A side of this, and a portion of that is often going to be better than a huge plate packed with sides you aren't wanting to eat.

Plan to have your re-feed or cheat meal during that trip. If you are on a plan where you get a little bump of a cheat meal, have it out during the special occasion. This is always nice, but be moderate and I always recommend planning ahead. It's not a buffet anything goes mentality. It should be a controlled environment for you to remain successful.

Take your protein. I have no shame in ordering a salad and digging my chicken out of my big purse to put on top. No one (at the restaurant) has ever noticed. I get exactly what I need and it's controlled.

There are always good choices on the menu. Even at fast food restaurants (cringe) if you are in a pinch, there is something you can select. You might need to pull the buns off, or manipulate it somehow, but you can manage. The nutritional information is available for you, use it.

The key is not feeling like you can't eat out. Restaurants will prepare things the way you need them if you request it. They are savvy and have low calorie selections, you just need to make them. Enjoy a trip out with friends or family at a restaurant - just be prepared ahead of time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Chew On Sugarless Gum

by Kris Pitcher

People ask me all the time about sugarless gum. Especially competitors. If you are a competitor, or you are on a diet working toward a very specific goal...chew on this.

In the big picture, sugarless gum (gum) is a great tool in the weight management tool kit. It's a great diversion. It is a wonderful way to keep your mouth busy at a party or other social situation where everyone else is noshing on no-no's.

However, here is my opinion - and I'm always good about telling you when something is my opinion - we underestimate the impact of gum. We could in fact, extend this to other "sugar free" items, but for the sake of conversation let's just talk gum.

Gum is not calorie neutral. By that, I mean sugarless gum is not sugarless. I know! And there is no Santa Clause either. It has typically 5 calories per slice. The calories come from sugar alcohols. Those are the basics. So, let's run this down.

If you are chewing 10 pieces of gum a day, 7 days a week, you are adding 350 calories to your intake per week. Hmm? In 10 weeks you've gained 1 pound from chewing sugarless gum. It has an impact.

Now, there was a time when I had a pack a day habit. Let's look at that. Eighteen sticks, 90 calories a day, or 630 calories in a week. Yeah, that's going to be a problem if I am on a plan where I am really tracking my calories to make a significant body composition change.

So, is it OK to chew gum? Sure. You just need to be aware of the impact of your choices. Don't fool yourself and believe it is sugarless and has zero impact on you. It has an impact and may be derailing your clean eating plan. And if you're chewing a pack a day but neglect to tell your coach and your coach can't figure out why you aren't responding the way he/she thinks you should be...there's a disconnect.

Consider, for the sake of me throwing fuel on the fire, the compounding effect of the crystal light you're drinking. It also has a caloric effect. It is 5 calories per serving, and how many of those are you drinking in a week? Starting to add up isn't it? Five of those packets a day for 7 days is 175 calories...add that to your gum and you've got 525 calories in sugarless nothing.

Depending on your goals, where you need to be as a competitor, and what fits into your plan I would tell each of you something different about these items and how they'll work for you. It's important to be aware however the impact of things we think of as calorie free, when they're not. Chew on that.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Little Half, Big Deal

by Kris Pitcher

Part of what makes us successful in this weight management journey is to figure out what makes us tick. Learning about the things that trip us up about food can take a life time, or many trips to the therapists couch.

I just try to be aware and open to my feelings about food in the moment. And recently I had a, "little half, big deal" moment.

Growing up the (slightly) younger of two girls, the only fair way to do anything was to draw straws. I think my mom was brilliant to have us do this. Sometimes the one who drew the long straw got the thing, sometimes the one who drew the short straw. You never knew.

But for some reason, you felt like you got the short end of the stick. My sister would surely say exactly the same. Neither is wrong, or right. It's only my arm chair psychology that says my wanting the big half of anything is at all related.

If I cut something in half, I want the big half. I don't need the big half. The small half is perfectly fine, and satisfactory, and plenty in itself. The halves are likely nearly identical.

So the other day when I cut an avocado, half of which I was going to use right away, and half of which I was going to put in the refrigerator for Jacques...I took the small half.

I recognized it in that moment. I no longer need the big half. And while it might seem like a small thing to most, it's one of those breakthrough moments when time just kind of stops. I put the big half in the container and put it in the fridge.

Successful weight management takes a life time. It takes learning who you are and how your brain works about food. It takes allowing yourself to be human and have silly "rules" which make zero sense.

As you learn about those, you can recognize and change them. It takes paying attention and being deliberate. It takes work and persistence. It takes a little half, big deal.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Quit Your Cravings

by Kris Pitcher

It's all you can think about. You get it stuck in your head and you want it. I mean you want it bad! You will go to the ends of the earth to get a's a CRAVING! And it is driving you crazy.

Not only is it driving you crazy, but it's also derailing your progress. You can quit your cravings by doing something really quite simple.

Cravings are really about filling needs. Yes, you're a big, deep, dark, empty hole. You are craving things to fill yourself up. But, you might be surprised to find out it may not be the thing you're craving that you really need.

We have to start by finding out what we really want. Let's say every evening you crave ice cream, or chips or what ever your thing is. The behavior now is to give in and have the ice cream because that's what we think we want. And that's easy.

What if we tried something different? Maybe what we really want is time to unwind, or time with a loved one. Maybe we need time to de-stress or time to be social. The point is, our craving is usually for something we are not getting, but something we need.

We can test our needs. One evening, try spending some quality time with your family. Still want ice cream? OK, maybe we need something else. Try some de-stress time by doing something you enjoy. Try working in your garden, or on a project, or reading, or taking a bath, or painting your toes...something for you.

Still not it? The next evening we try something else. Take the dog for a walk, call your friend, massage your feet and hands. Find your emotional fix. The idea is we need to feed our cravings for emotional fulfillment.

OK, you're not just a big, deep, dark, empty hole to be filled with ice cream. When we have our head wrapped around intense food cravings, we are missing something within our emotional needs. It can be as simple as relaxing in a different way. It takes practice and work...but you are worth it! Quit your cravings!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

For Mother's Day

by Kris Pitcher

Happy day to my Mom
She is fit and she is strong.

To the gym she loves to go
Ask her, and she'll tell you so.

Nana loves the weights
She can press mighty heavy
There's no stopping her,
It's like opening a levy!

Bath Crashers she'll watch knocking cardio out
Keeping arthritis at bay, and inches away
On face book she'll post, "Had a great work out today!"

Cheers to you Mom
Full of sweat and perspiration,
Your strength and your courage
Make you a true inspiration!

*Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Eating Pine Cones

by Kris Pitcher

"Don't be mad." Jacques said putting his calipers to my skin. I had decided it was time, I needed to know where I was in terms of my body composition.

He wrote down the numbers for the various sites and handed me the slip of paper. I grabbed the calculator and the chart...and held my breath.

It was less than I though. I calculated how much lean body mass I had and I smiled, more than last year. It worked! Eating pine cones all winter worked!

Well, I didn't exactly eat pine cones. But I stayed on point all winter, or off season, as I trained to gain muscle. I worked hard to stay leaner this year. And it worked!

I'm starting my contest prep in a leaner place than last year. But the kicker? I'm not as fat as I thought I was. Sometimes knowing your numbers gives you the perspective you need. Whichever direction.

Whether you're too far on one side, or not as far as you think - just knowing the number gives you the perspective you need to move ahead in your plan in the right mind-set.

I joked that I'd been hunkered down "eating pine cones" which meant I was on a fairly strict off season plan. It's what I needed to do in order to keep my body under a certain percentage. So, instead of starting my dieting process at 20.5% like last year, I'm starting at 18.5%.

Being able to stay just 2% leaner over the off season helped me gain a little bit more muscle. Which is hard for us ladies to do. Don't be mad...ha! In the big picture each prep cycle makes me a better athlete because of what I'm able to do in the off season.

Sometimes it's hard to see the forest through the trees as you move along your journey. Just don't forget to stop along the way and eat your pine cones.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Popcorn Vs Broccoli

by Kris Pitcher

Popcorn goes head to head with broccoli when it comes to a fiber packing punch. But that's not all popcorn has going for it. The problem is, we completely wreck it.

Popcorn also contains polyphenols which have an antioxidant effect. There is a catch though...air popped is the only way to go. Sorry movie goers, no $12 large popcorn at the show.

In 5 cups of air popped corn you will get 155 calories; 5 gm protein; 5 gm fiber; 30 gm of carbs and a belly full of crunch. You're also getting B vitamins, E, K & vitamin A, as well as manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, potassium & copper.

As far as a healthy snack goes popcorn is a great choice if you prepare it right. And really, couldn't you feel satisfied with 2.5 cups? That's a pretty big bowl.

The next time you want to enjoy a crunchy snack think about popcorn - the healthy way. Don't smother it with stuff, or spray a bunch of fake butter on it...all that ruins the benefit. Enjoy the slightly sweet taste of the actual corn.

You'll get a great dose of fiber as well as vitamins and minerals as you fill your crunch where is that air popper?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What Is Your SLASH?

by Kris Pitcher

I met an interesting guy last week who said his girlfriend is a psychotherapist-slash-singer. And I thought...what's your slash?

Everyone should have a slash. We identify with our jobs primarily in this country. For better, or for worse. And at the expense of the corporate ladder many have lost their slash.

I'm a chief development officer, slash, blogger, slash, physique competitor, slash, wife, slash, part time contest prep coach, slash, NPC judge, slash, daughter/sister, slash...I have a lot of slashes. Those are just some of my slashes.

Really. What is your slash? Did you used to have a slash, but you've let it go? Would you like to pursue your slash? I think we'd be a little better balanced if we thought a lot more about our slash.

There is nothing wrong with identifying with our job, I just think we are more than that. We are more creative, we have more to offer, we are more dynamic and complex. We should celebrate our slash!

Give yourself the freedom, the permission, to explore your slash. Try a few out, and see what you like. Or maybe you already have a slash that you aren't sharing, you aren't capitalizing on, or you aren't bragging about. Share your slash.

Our slashes make this world a remarkable place, a place that's fun and creative. It's what makes us each so special. What is your slash?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Canned by Coke

by Kris Pitcher

Last week while I was traveling, I did what I always do. I weighed, bagged, froze and traveled with all my food for three and a half days. It all fit snug as a bug in my carry on soft sided cooler.

But by day three of wonderfully long and productive meetings, I decided to enjoy a soda at our after noon break out session. So, I looked at the big bowl of ice with cans of Coke in it and picked one.

Some cans were red, I know those ones, and others were white. Great, I thought, I'll enjoy a diet Coke! I went into my break out group to discuss a scenario and half way through my can I got this horrible feeling.

I turned the can around and almost slammed it on the table. A bad word came out of my business mouth under my breath. "This is a regular Coke!" I exclaimed.

"Is that bad?" Questioned one of my colleagues. Um, yeah I though...high fructose corn syrup is pretty much bad for anyone! They had seen me eating chicken and broccoli every two or three hours for three days and some of them had even clued in that I was on some sort of eating plan.

"Here, take these vitamin B drops, they'll counter act the sugar." Said one of our speakers. Hmm? Did he really believe that? I took the drops so he'd feel better for me. But that half a can of regular Coke would not be counter acted by all the vitamin B in the world.

I'm not sure why Coke can't just be in one color can. Red. Do they have to make it in a white can, that oddly looks like diet? Fooled me. But it was my own fault. I shouldn't be drinking that anyway. Lesson learned.

It was off to the gym after our session ended at 5:00 PM. A good lift in and an extra 25 minutes of cardio, which did counter act that half a can of regular Coke. Sorry for the bad word, and I'll watch my cans.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Find Happy

by Kris Pitcher

You might just be your own worst enemy when it comes to finding happiness. If you've been waiting for it to happen to could wait a long time.

One important factor in finding happiness is shifting your focus. It's time to stop thinking about yourself. Shifting the focus from yours truly to others in your life helps find perspective, and happiness.

If happy people just make you mad, you're focusing on the negative. Happy people focus on the positive, their cup is half full. Finding that perspective takes practice and effort. It's up to you to see the good in life.

Sometimes we're unhappy because we're just plain bored. If you are stuck in a rut it's time to try something new. Nurturing newness can give you renewed energy. Even as little as shifting your schedule or the way you do things can be new enough to help you unleash that boredom.

Happiness doesn't happen to you, you create it. It's in the way you choose to focus on the world, and it's in how you decide to see it. Is you're cup half full?

Get out of your rut and try something new, spark some energy in your life and see if it doesn't just make you a little bit happy. Stop waiting for something you have the power to do yourself. Go find happy!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Want Ads

by Kris Pitcher

Seeking: Married female in search of trusted, reliable relationship. Willing to be exclusive, sort of. Able to accept diversity...lots of it. Difficulty committing, over and over. Looking for loving relationship - with food.

If you wrote a "want ad" about your relationship with food, what would it sound like? In the twenty years (that makes me sound old) that I've been successfully managing my weight my relationship with food has grown and changed...a lot.

It certainly didn't happen over night. Elbow deep in chili-cheese nachos from 7-11, I thought I was having a healthy lunch in high school. That was when I wasn't eating pop tarts and diet 7-up. Of course I drank diet! Please! No one drank sugar soda even then!

There were years of tug-of-war, anxiety and over-feeding. Then my relationship started to change as I began to take interest in exercise. But the knowledge about nutrition came later, and putting the two together took further refinement.

So, if you thought you'd have all this figured out in a few weeks or months, that's noble but not realistic. Then come the wake up calls to deal with your emotions around eating, what you are willing to tolerate for yourself, and why you've given up control to punish others - only taking it out on yourself.

Figure all that out and you'll be on your way. But it won't happen quickly. It takes time to learn about yourself. It takes time to make mistakes, to start and stop, to put the pieces together.

Today, my relationship is very utilitarian. I "feed the machine" and if a food doesn't meet my goals, I'm like a cat - not interested. I think of food as fuel, it serves a purpose to get me to my goals.

I still enjoy it, I still plan and execute my re-feed, or "cheat", meals carefully and probably with a little too much joy. But when I enjoy something, I really enjoy it.

And while it consumes much of my energy and focus, it doesn't run my life in the way it once did. I don't think about food in the same way. My want ad would read much differently now. My relationship has changed. My relationship is one of peace.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Protein Waffles!

by Kris Pitcher

It's Sunday and by all means...EAT PROTEIN WAFFLES!

3 egg whites
1/4 c oat flour
2 scoops protein powder (any flavor)
1 T applesauce (no sugar added)

Pulse dry oats in food processor or blender. Mix all ingredients together and spoon onto preheated waffle iron. If you are feeling is Sunday, just put the oats in without grinding it into flour. Same dif.

Makes 2 waffles: 235 calories/35 g protein/8 g carbs/2 g fat

Don't wreck them by putting a bunch of sugar and syrup on them. A dollop of sour cream and some cinnamon is nice, or a little yogurt. Mmmm! I'm getting hungry - now have a great day!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Winning, It's Personal

by Kris Pitcher

Sometimes when we get where we're going...we're disappointed. We reach a goal and it doesn't "feel" like we thought it would. Maybe we aren't rewarded (externally) like we thought we would be.

No matter our physical goal, it's got to be personal. Don't take this the wrong way, but it's not enough to think we'll win. I say that because we've got to train like we want to win, to be number one. But that's not enough.

In any race or competition there's only one winner. The competition will be fierce. You'll be up against lots of other people who have trained just as hard as you...some harder. The point isn't don't even bother.

The point is make your goal personal. Compete to be your very best, to achieve something bigger than a reward or a medal. I'm suggesting compete for something deeper.

Finding your personal purpose in working toward and achieving your goals is where you win. Sure a trophy is nice, but in my sport the top five get a trophy and everyone else - if that's what they are competing for - goes empty handed.

Those fifteen others in the category aren't losers. They didn't show up having not earned their place on stage. We all need to find our personal purpose in what we pursue.

In most any sport all you can control is you. You can't control who you are up against, what their talents might be, or how they trained. What you can control is how you train, and what talents you bring. This is where you make it personal.

As you embark on your next journey, your search should be for your personal purpose. Finding it might lead you right to the head of the pack, the top of the mountain, or standing in first place.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Believe It Or Not

by Kris Pitcher

Have you ever thought yourself into a bad mood? Or into a good mood? Well, believe it or not, you are what you think you are.

The trouble is, we don't use this to our advantage. We should. There is an art to believing in yourself with humility. Projected in the wrong spirit, it comes across as horribly conceited. Yuck!

What I'm talking about is different. It's internal. It's about believing you can do things and believing you deserve certain things. Deserving to be treated a certain way for example vs. having things. It's about what you will tolerate in your life. What you believe you are worth.

You have the power to believe yourself to be anything you want. That is an amazing thing. I look at artists who re-invent themselves.

Madonna was the Queen of that, and now we have Lady Gaga. Marketing marvels of believing themselves into existence over and over.

We have the power to re-invent ourselves too. A big part of that is what baggage we carry around. You can choose to identify yourself with your baggage, to identify yourself by it...or not. It's entirely up to you.

To choose that power takes courage. You have that courage. You can believe it or not. You are able to think yourself into re-invention, identify who you are and choose what defines you.

You have that power within you, that courage. You just have to believe it. I meet amazing strong men and women all the time who teeter on the edge of that courage. It's not easy to stay connected to it. Maintaining that connection takes a little bit of work. I believe you can do it!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Setting Fitness Goals

by Kris Pitcher

"If you don't know where you're going, you might wind up somewhere else. - Yogi Bera"
You know I like Yogiisms because they're just so obvious. It's true, if you are not planning on where you are going, you won't get there - you will get somewhere else.

Setting fitness goals requires knowing where you would like to go. Having a goal provides the direction you need to stay motivated. It's a circular process. Goal, motivation, success, repeat.

People get frustrated because they can't find the motivation. But the motivation comes from having the goal. We've got to set a goal in order to find the motivation. We do ourselves a disservice if we think, "Oh, I'll just feel so excited to get up and do cardio at o-dark-thirty!"

When you don't feel that joy in the morning, you feel like there's something wrong with you. There's nothing wrong with you. You are normal. Completely!

It's your goal that motivates you to do the things necessary to get there...even when you'd rather hit the snooze. You consider your goal, why it's important to you and how you'll get there. And pretty soon, you're in your groove.

It starts by knowing where you're going. It takes some thoughtful consideration really. Would you like to try a mini triathlon? Run a 5K? Or maybe learn how to swim? It's your's where you are going. Pick a place, it's all up to you!

Having that direction gives us a sense of purpose in our actions. And it gives our actions purpose. Decide where you are going in order to get there. Otherwise, you'll wind up somewhere else.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Wild Ride, Bike Commuting

by Kris Pitcher

One morning on my commute into work I watched as a middle aged cyclist took her position in the left of two lanes at a stop light on a very busy arterial. She was decked out in commuter gear but looked like she'd be more comfortable on the trail than in the middle of this major intersection.

I watched with trepidation as I anticipated what would happen next. As the light was turning green the "gentleman" in the pickup behind her laid on the horn. She hadn't had a chance to even turn the pedal. Her wheels began to turn and he laid into her with that horn.

Sure enough, the next light was red, she held her position in that left lane as she was about to take a left hand turn onto a four lane arterial. But as she did, her mouth let out a slew of comments to him that I cannot repeat. This time they were side by side.

She let him have it. Yelled like a banshee! He rolled his window down and shouted back at her from his brand new dark blue Chevrolet pick up with the license plate number...OK, I didn't get the plate number from the new plate tag hung in his window - but I wish I did.

I wasn't sure why this guy was so upset about her doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing? I wondered about his entitlement in his world and how she had impacted that.

Certainly we can exist in a world where we are not verbally assaulting one another on our way to work over our carbon footprint. I thought about the cortisol levels of each, of the stress of their mornings...of being a bystander.

Look around, look outside your four or six doors. Look along side your vehicle, check the bike lane before you make a turn. And by all means, share the road.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Secrets Your Personal Trainer Should Be Telling You

by Kris Pitcher

If you work with a personal trainer there are certain things they should be telling you. This is a special kind of professional relationship built on trust. When it is, sales gimmicks and flashy programs won't be necessary.

I'm honest with you, and today's topic is simply my philosophy. Take it, or leave it. Your relationship with your trainer should be one of communication and information. These are five secrets your personal trainer should be telling you.
  1. There is no "right" way. There isn't one magic formula or a workout or eating plan that is going to work for everyone. If they have one "right" way of doing things and they believe everyone else's way is "wrong" that should be a red flag. A well educated professional is going to use every tool in their educational arsenal to get you the best response. If your trainer is only using one tool...I'd be worried.
  2. You need to be compliant in order to see results. There is a reason your trainer is asking you to do certain things. It's because they are trying to elicit certain responses in you. They are trying to make changes. Your trainer should be sharing this secret with you. In other words, they should be telling you why they are asking you to do're more likely to be successful when you know why.
  3. You don't need those supplements. This might be a broad statement. But the truth is, you must have the base of a solid eating plan and be doing everything right with that plan before you add supplements. The supplements won't make up for poor eating. If your trainer is selling you a bunch of supplements that you must take...they might be selling you a line.
  4. I could get you EXACTLY to your goals if I could get you to eat right. Many personal trainers know some about nutrition, but there is a science here where others might have a gap in knowledge. Putting the right nutrition plan with your exercise plan would get you to your goals. And your trainer is thinking "if only!" because they wish they could get you to eat right.
  5. You don't need me. The final secret your trainer is not telling you is that ultimately, once armed with won't need them any more. At least you won't need them for a little while. In all fairness, this is a very loaded statement. Many people benefit from the on-going long term relationship with a personal trainer. Others, need to learn how to workout, how to eat properly and they are on their way for a while. When it's time to make some changes...they'll come back for some more refinement. The point is, you should not be dependant on your trainer - you should be learning from them.
These are five secrets your trainer isn't bothering to tell you. They may not have the guts, or the heart to tell you that you need to be compliant in order to see results. They may be required by their work place to sell a certain quota of supplements every month. It may be their personal style to make you dependant on them so you never leave them.

I believe there is enough in this world to go around. I think that happy clients tell other potential clients how much they learned and how great an experience they had. I'm sure you've experienced that in your work too.

Enjoy your next session with your personal trainer! I hope you are getting everything you need from that relationship. It is an important professional relationship which can take you to incredible places in your life. And I hope they aren't keeping these secrets from you.