Monday, July 30, 2012

What's In Your Spice Mix?

by Kris Pitcher

Things can get monotonous when you eat six meals a day. Chicken is chicken, and white fish is enough to choke you after a few weeks. So I like to spice it up.

As I was filling my little baggie in the bulk section of the grocery store the other day I looked at the ingredients of my chili powder. Dextrose. I'll be cornswaggled!

I dropped that bag like it was contraband. Fortunately, the spice police were not close by. Really, do they have to put sugar in chili powder? Then I read the other spice blends. Sugar, dextrose, more sugar.

This store carries three varieties of chili powder - mild, medium and hot. The hot doesn't contain dextrose. If you can handle the don/t need the sweet. OK, I made that up.

The other "go to" mix I get there is curry powder. Clean. Phew! But it reminded me that we really need to read our labels carefully. Hidden sources of sugars are used as fillers in products like this and we're not even aware of it. We're shaking sugar right on our diet food. Silly.

Where are the hidden things in your plan that might be causing you to make forward progress? There might be blatant things, and there might be more hidden things. Look at your labels and check for your "oses" maltose, dextrose (another name for glucose), fructose etc. They are all sugar.

Keep your spices simple and clean, not full of simple sugar. Spice it up!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chicken Spray

by Kris Pitcher

People are always asking about recipes to make chicken taste better, less boring. They're interested in spices, sauces and cooking methods. This isn't about any of that. It's about chicken spray.

I eat a lot. I eat frequently. I eat in my office all the time. Most of the time I don't even bother to heat my meal up. What's the point? Besides, it's nice to have a cool meal in the summer. It is such a frequent occurrence that I'd be making tracks to the microwave so often my co-workers would wonder if I ever actually worked.

But I am aware however that my office smells funny. It smells like...chicken. And not in a fried chicken let's go to a picnic kind of way. It smells like chicken in a - did you take your sweaty sneakers off way. Not good.

So, I made chicken spray. That's right. Like repellent, only for chicken smell. What you may not know about me is I love essential oils. I love to be around them, to smell them, and to make things with them.

My current chicken spray is coconut/vanilla. Yummy! You just get yourself a little spritz bottle, fill it 2/3 full of water, 1/3 with rubbing alcohol and add 15-20 drops, or so, of your favorite essential oil. It's so easy I'm embarrassed.

Now you've got a room spritz. I spray this concoction in my office to ward off the chicken smell and make me feel like I'm at the beach. Happy eating! (Don't put this on your chicken.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How's Prep Going?

by Kris Pitcher

I thought I'd give you a little update and insight into how my contest prep is going. I tend to fly under the radar and it's been a while since I've let you know what I'm up to. So, here you go!

cardio during a party at a friend's house, no joke!
The Night of Champions is 8 1/2 weeks out. My progress is right on track and I'm excited to see what I bring to the stage. News is traveling fast...and people are asking me if I'm competing. It's no secret. Yes I'm competing!

Something SUPER exciting happened to me a while back. I entered a contest to win a sponsored suit by CJ's Elite - the top suit designer in the industry. AND I WON! So, look out for a different level of polish to my package this year. Dazzle! Bling! Sparkle! WOW!

Life is getting more simplified. Cardio. Eat. Lift. Cardio. Sleep. Work. Repeat. That's contest prep in a nutshell. Each week we watch my body change and we make adjustments to my meals or my cardio. Or neither. Or both. It's dynamic.

doing cardio in my new Impact tank...
I've selected my posing music and I'm working on my routine. It doesn't count for scoring, so it's one of the things that usually gets pushed to the last minute. Not this year! What else...

I have to work some traveling into my prep. That's always a challenge. But I'm a pro at it and have my system down. can see it's kind of super basic. I'm focused and excited.

I'll give you a few updates as the weeks wind down.'s kinda boring? Plus, I'm not going to tell you all the secret details! Eight weeks will fly by - does this diet seem easy to you?! LOL!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Your Behind

by Kris Pitcher

I haven't looked at the back of my hair since my husband completed the remodel of the master bathroom. It's the smaller of the two bathrooms on the main floor, but it's got the big three way mirror.

Now, what happened is he put a more sleek vanity in there with slightly sloping sides. These sides no longer accommodate the electric toothbrush base. Besides, that stuff is ugly. I used to check the back of my hair while I was brushing my teeth.

I still brush my teeth...I just don't do it where I have a 3-way mirror. I have no idea what's going on back there. There could be huge holes in my hair - although I doubt it. And as it turns out I am just lucky there's not. I really should check before I go out of the house.

But what's going on behind you? Where you can't see? I see a lot of people working chest. We joke that Monday is "International Chest Day" because everyone at the gym is working chest. Only as the week goes by...everyone at the gym is still working chest.

People tend to neglect what they can't see. Chest and biceps seem to get all the attention. Everything else is out of sight, out of mind. You need to check your behind. There's a lot going on back there!

Your back, hamstrings, glutes, calves, triceps - half your body is behind you. Hopefully you haven't developed "holes" there either. The problem is that neglecting body parts means creating imbalances. And creating imbalances leads to injury.

Work the front, and work the back. Give just as much attention to those muscle groups you can't see as the ones you can. You'll be creating a balanced physique and reducing your risk of injury due to imbalance. Then all you'll need is that 3-way mirror to see your progress!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Power of Probiotics

by Kris Pitcher

Don't be grossed out but you have over 500 different species of good and bad bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are live micro organisms which have a positive health benefit to the host. That's us!

These good bugs are great for us. We get these "live active cultures" in yogurt, fermented foods, miso, tempeh, and in supplements. Probiotics are powerful and healthful bugs to have.

Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium longum have been reported to lessen our stress and reduce anxiety in one British study. These healthy bugs have also been linked to lower levels of LDL cholesterol.

Want cleaner teeth and gums? Lactobacillos reuteri and bifidobacterium can reduce strains of harmful bacteria in our mouth. Look for "live active cultures" in the yogurt you buy. And one note, you can't freeze it. This changes these organisms. Sorry fro-yo folks!

Studies are now looking at the intestinal flora of obese vs. normal weight people to test the strains of organisms they are "hosting". They are finding that those who are overweight have a much different make up of bacteria in their gut.

Supplementing is another way of getting these good bacteria. I don't eat soy or dairy, so I take an acidophilus & bifidus supplement. Be sure you are getting your good bacteria to support healthy intestinal health. Here's to the power of probiotics!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Your Big Bloated Lie

by Kris Pitcher

There are some pretty big lies we tell ourselves. Like, it's the 12th anniversary of my 30th birthday. Lie. I'm 42. Such as, I don't need 8 hours of sleep...I can do fine on 4 or 5 hours. Lie.

But the BIGGEST lie of all is one I hear a lot. Ready for it? "I'm holding water." Or, "I'm bloated." Guess what? You're holding fat.

I'm just holding water...
Today's tough love is brought to you exclusively by me, because that's how we do. We tell each other the truth. No, you did not have too much sodium yesterday...unless you went out for Chinese food. We need to talk if you did.

Sodium is a critical element which you need in your diet and you have in your diet on a regular basis - so it didn't cause a huge swing in your condition. You also haven't been bloated for seven months. You're fooling yourself. Big. Lie.

And here's the thing (play the nice music here) now that we've been honest, we can move forward. Sure it's possible your consistent diet of alcohol and nachos have you a little bloated, but they are also keeping you well insulated. F-A-T.

So you thought you were in better shape than you are. So what? Get over it and get honest so you can make some change. Let's see just how great you look when you get a handle on that 15 pounds of fat you're holding on to. No lie, you're gonna look great!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Diet Wall, On Stallling Out

by Kris Pitcher

Congratulations to reader Jessica who has lost 100 pounds since August! This takes a complete shift in mind-set, a 180 degree change in lifestyle approach, and a willingness to care for yourself as you never have before.

Eventually, we hit a wall...we stall out. We stop making progress. Now, when we have a lot of weight to lose the numbers are big in the beginning. It's like dating...really sexy at first. Then as things slow down, we have to really work for it.

Really the stall out is our body telling us, "Hey! We've been doing the same thing here for a while now!" and, "We're on to you!" This is all about the principle of progression. We must progressively change what we're doing in order to continue to see change.

It can be as much as a little "tweak". Last week for example, I took my typical 45 minute cardio session and split it into two sessions. Same time, but different because now it's two sessions. My body has to figure out what I'm doing. Ha! Progression.

How do we begin to change things? We need to start by tracking what we're doing. You can track your exercise, your food, your water intake...all of that, etc. One thing to be aware of in terms of managing this process, is just how much you can handle.

We don't want to make ourselves crazy, we want to track what's important. I would suggest the "biggies". Track your food and your exercise. Maybe of that, you select your cardio or your strength training - but if it's going to make you a nut-ball don't track both.

Our food scale is on the counter at all times. Every meal gets weighed before it is packed to go, or eaten at home. Why? Well, for one thing I need to ensure I get what I need. There are days when I can eyeball 4oz. of meat put it in the bowl on the scale and it is right on. But I wouldn't count on my eye for 6 meals a day. (That's too much pressure! Lol!)

I also need to make sure I'm not getting more, or less, than I need. So, everything gets weighed. Using tools to help you make sure you are on track just make sense. Now, do I write down every meal? No. Because I ONLY eat the meals on my diet plan.

HOWEVER, for all the Jessica's - you should be tracking everything that goes into your mouth in a little diary, or on an app for your phone. This personal accountability will help you make better choices before you put something in your mouth that may not help you get to your goals. It stops the mindless eating.

Tracking is the first step to making adjustments toward progressive changes in your plan. Often, the tracking itself will be all the change you need to get over the diet wall you've hit. Keep doing all the right things to move forward in your health and fitness. And congratulations Jessica! Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Glutamine For Fat Loss

by Kris Pitcher

Well, now I've got your attention! Fat loss? That's right. Glutamine aids in fat loss and I'm going to tell you why. I'm going to tell you a whole bunch of stuff about glutamine...and, I'm getting all sciency-excited about it!

Glutamine is one of 20 amino acids. It's considered non-essential because the body makes it. Now, interestingly it has been reclassified as semi-essential because while the body can make it, under extreme stress we lose more than we can replenish requiring the need for supplementation. Exciting right?!

It's the most abundant amino acid in the body. All amino acids by the way end in "ine". Anywho - it's predominately synthesized and stored in skeletal muscle. One of the most important things it does is acts as fuel for the cells that line our intestines.

Glutamine is also involved in metabolic processes and it helps maintain our blood glucose levels. It also helps us maintain a certain pH range in our bodies. It plays a role in immune function, and (drum roll) it increases the body's ability to secrete human growth hormone (HGH) which assists in metabolizing fat and supports new muscle tissue growth.

Is everyone grinning ear to ear?! Am I the only one who is super-science-excited right now? Well, there's more. Glutamine enhances our brain function, memory, mental alertness and mood. (Maybe that's why I'm so happy?)

Glutamine's role in muscle preservation, intestinal health, and immune function make it an important amino acid for exercisers to get. Especially for those who exercise intensely or regularly. Stress on the body, and the release of cortisol, decrease our glutamine stores. The greater the stress on the body, the greater the demand for this essential amino acid.

So, where do we get it? We get glutamine from beef, pork, poultry, eggs, milk, ricotta and cottage cheese, raw spinach, raw parsley and cabbage. The typical dietary intake ranges from 5 to 10 gms daily. While you should always consult your physician before taking any supplement, therapeutic dosages of 1.5-6 gms, divided, have been given.

There are side effects and contraindications. Side effects include headache, bloating and intestinal distress. And people with kidney, liver disease or Reye's syndrome should not take glutamine. Again, always consult your physician before taking any supplement.

You can have your levels checked when you get a full blood panel done. Consuming food sources above should ensure adequate intake, and many pre-workout formulas, and even protein powders, have this amino acid added to it. Read your labels. There you go!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What Kind of Size?

by Kris Pitcher

If you ask people what size they want to be they can tell you. Men and women alike usually have a number in mind. It's like buying a car...whether you're willing to say it out loud, you've got a number in mind.

But what kind of size do you want to be? You can be a fat 8 or a lean and muscular 8. Either way, you're a size 8. Do you care? Or do you just want the size?

What does it matter you're asking? Well, what it matters is simply everything regarding how you go about losing weight. It's easy to spot over fat people of size. But can you spot a skinny fat person?

Squishy with no muscle...
There's nothing great about being the "right" size if you have no muscle mass and you're just a pile of mush. You can squish the mush into the pants like filing a tube of sausage. Ish!

My point is, it's important to go about it in the right ways. In ways which will build and maintain lean body mass (muscle mass), while burning fat mass. The point is, don't be afraid to incorporate strength training...ladies. It's not going to make you huge.

Just wanting to lose any old weight might leave us little fat people, and we don't want that. So while you might not have thought about it much, it's important to consider what kind of size you want to be rather than just what size.

This helps you slow the process down, not be in such a hurry to get to a certain number. You want to get there with your metabolically active muscle tissue in tact. Besides, there is no "right" size. There's just whatever size you are.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Double Bunned Sword

by Kris Pitcher

As the seasons have changed, I've been looking in my closet for new items to wear. Not only has the season changed, but through my contest prep...I'm also changing. Typically this means I can wear more items in my closet, smaller items in my closet.

Like most competitors I have multiple sizes of clothes. I have tiny clothes that I wear for about a 2 week window. Then I have my 6, 8, 10 run. This year however has been a different experience.

I began to grow out of my 6 as I was dieting down. See, it's the double bunned sword thing happening. This year, I was on a mission to "build a butt". You know, like build a bear...only - behind.

Now my great work isn't fitting into my slacks. Apparently, the standard woman according to the garment industry...has no glutes. Sad really. My solution?

Wear my 8's. Take out the tags if you don't like it. Wear my dresses. Find things which stretch over my big, strong glutes. Be proud of my situation rather than frustrated that I don't fit the norm.

I'm sure you have a "double bunned sword" situation. How are you choosing to see it? To handle it? Your perception determines your disposition and your success. You don't need to fit the norm, or your just have to be you!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Squeeze on Juicing

by Kris Pitcher

This is a reader requested topic. If you have a topic you'd like to hear about, let me know. I love to hear from you! Thanks Ginger!

Juicing has been around for years, and like a lot of food trends it has gone in and out of fashion. It's in fashion and people are loving their giant blends of juices. So, why has this been so popular?

Juicing is embraced by the health conscious for it's quick delivery of nutrients and enzymes responsible for cancer fighting properties. The USDA encourages us to eat more fruits and vegetables for a healthy diet.

This practice is also embraced as a weight loss mechanism. But this is where I find I'm tensing up, my teeth are clenching and I have to almost hold myself in my chair. Here's the deal.

Juicing to lose weight is the exact opposite of what you want to do. Liquid calories from fruits and vegetables provide relatively little nutrients, no fiber, and are simple sugars. Simple sugars cause a quick spike in insulin, and a blood sugar environment which isn't conducive to fat loss.

Would you lose weight? Sure. But you would lose your muscle mass. This isn't what we want. We want to maintain our muscle mass and lose our fat mass. We do this by limiting the simple sugar (eliminating it), eating lean protein, complex carbohydrates and the right kinds of vegetables high in fiber.

Does an occasional glass of high quality juice have it's place in your plan? Maybe. I would advocate for enjoying those berries in their whole form so you benefit from the fiber. Skip the 800 calorie Jumbo Juice at the mall - you're not doing yourself a favor or being "healthy". You're having the equivalent of a milk shake. And that's my squeeze on juicing.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Clean Eats, Sweet Potato-Apple Waffles

by Kris Pitcher

Last week I made a big decision. Those of you who know me, know that on Saturday's I lock the doors, draw the shades and indulge in a homemade pizza. I don't brag about many things...but I make a really good pizza.

I make the dough by hand, kneading it for 8 full minutes - after my arm workout day...with sore triceps. I'm committed to this pizza.

This meal is my weekly "cheat" meal or re-feed meal. But last week after enjoying my most delicious pizza I looked in the mirror on Sunday and came to my decision. No more wheat.

The time has come in my prep to re-feed with the fuel that I will load with come contest time. Thus the decision to switch my meal. Don't worry though, I will still lock the doors and pull the shades.

This week (insert big reveal) we're having waffles! And here's what I'm fixing tonight:

Sweet Potato-Apple Waffles
1 C rice flour
1 C rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 C sweet potato (previously baked)
3 egg whites
1/2 C applesauce (unsweetened, natural, nothing added)

Mix it all up (add water to make appropriate consistency if it's too thick) and pour onto heated waffle iron. No, I'm not going to figure out the nutritional information for's a cheat meal. A clean cheat meal. I made up the recipe and I'm going to enjoy the crap out of it tonight.

I will be putting some (not a lot) peanut butter on top, and probably some sugar free syrup (although it will give me gas...). Is it night time yet? Enjoy your waffles anytime!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Benefits of Cocoa

by Kris Pitcher

Cocoa isn't just for steaming hot mugs of yumminess on winter days. Cocoa has many benefits and contains the much sought after compounds, flavanols.

Flavonols are antioxidants. Antioxidants are important to fighting free radicals which damage cells by causing oxidative stress. Flavonols interrupt the free radicals. Nice.

Cocoa comes from a bean. It's not the stuff with marshmallows in the Swiss Miss packets. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and has cardiovascular benefits including decreasing blood pressure. The antioxidants in cocoa helps us increase our HDL cholesterol (the good kind).

HDL helps the body metabolize fats in the bloodstream, lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and preventing heart attack and stroke. So, what can you do with this powder?

Eating it in powder form is your best bet. You don't need the sugar and fat found in dark chocolate (with a high cocoa content). Add a tablespoon of dry cocoa to your morning cup of coffee or throw it in the blender with your shake. You'll be adding 12 calories, 1gm fat, 2 gm dietary fiber, 1 gm protein.

Raw cocoa is bitter, but if you add it to your yogurt or coffee it's actually a great taste. It tastes rich and...chocolatey. Redirecting your taste buds to this natural flavor will give you the benefits without the sugar and fat. Enjoy! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Performance Pressure

by Kris Pitcher

We feel the pressure to perform whether we are competing as athletes, in the workplace, or trying to be the best parent we can be. The pressures come from external sources, and they come from within as well.

The external pressures are tough to manage. But it's really the way we internalize those, or the way we assign them to ourselves. We see many role models we'd like to emulate. We're bombarded with images really, of the way we should perform.

We can assign those to ourselves, deciding we have to live up to - perform up to - them. Or not. It's sort of like keeping up with the Jones'.

Do you really have to become the CEO? Would it be perfectly acceptable to excel in your field at the level you're currently at?

Likewise, do we have to compete with our eye on national, then professional level? Or can we just compete at a local level working to do better than we did against ourselves the year before? There is no right or wrong answer.

The pressure to perform is simply about what we want. It's OK to want it all, or just your little piece. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to perform it might be something to have a thoughtful conversation with yourself about.

Being accountable to what you've said you are going to do is a little different. Sure, there's pressure there. That kind of positive stress is good for us. It makes us work harder, train more and do better. Just remember why you've decided to do something. Is it for you, or is it for someone else?

The internal pressures we put on ourselves can put us in a spin too. It's about maintaining perspective and taking things one at a time. It's about managing your time and not overloading your schedule. Does everything have to be absolutely perfect in your home, work and personal life? Maybe, and maybe not.

Maybe there are areas where you can give a little, let the pressure off yourself until your big performance. The point is, you control that. You drive that. The pressure is coming from you. Manage it. It's your choice.

Regardless of where the pressure is coming from, internal or external, you've got to balance and juggle it all. We all feel it, we just manage differently. As you work toward your next big goal, keep in mind you are in control. You are doing it for you...and you've got this!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Baking Soda Loading

by Kris Pitcher

Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, loading is an interesting topic. It's something that explosive athletes, like track athletes have had interest in for some time.

We naturally produce sodium bicarbonate, which acts as an antacid. It acts to buffer, or counter acid production in the body. Athletes have been loading with it to: delay muscle fatigue, reduce the concentration of lactic acid, increase the power output and training volume, and ultimately improve high intensity interval performance.

When we are doing high intensity exercise we're creating an acidic environment as a result of the metabolic process. Our blood has to deal with the metabolic waste including lactic acid and hydrogen ions which are byproducts of the metabolic activity happening.

As these byproducts increase in our blood, we feel muscle fatigue. When you do a wall sit for 90 seconds and you feel like your legs are on're feeling the byproducts of the metabolic process. Science. Cool.

By supplementing, or loading, with baking soda an athlete would be able to create a less acidic blood environment. They could essentially fell less burn doing high intensity exercises. Typically, it's been used for exercises greater than 60 seconds in duration and not longer than 15 minutes. We are talking about explosive, sprinting types of high intensity work.

It's generally accepted that a load would be 0.3g/kg of body weight. The biggest issues for people are gastrointestinal issues ranging from bloating to severe diarrhea. Talk about explosive!

Protocols range from acute loading prior to your event. This would typically be done 1-2 hours pre-competition putting the baking soda in 1-2 L of water. Multi-day loading either prior to the event, or prior to training is also done.

Not exactly a mainstream protocol for running your weekend 5K. Remember 60 seconds to 15 minutes. Some people do add it to their water without gastrointestinal distress for enhanced performance. Me? I'm not likely to sprint anywhere.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kettlebells, In the Swing!

by Kris Pitcher

You've certainly seen these spherical weights in the gym. They have handles and come in a variety of sizes and weights. People are swinging them all around...but what's the kettlebell craze all about?

Kettlebells have developed from the Russian military who have used a similar cannon ball technique for years. One of the biggest benefits is combining muscular endurance with cardiovascular training making for an all in one for the time crunched.

Poor form?
The exercises are based on a multi planar method meaning they incorporate multiple joints moving together to increase coordination and muscular endurance. Working in this way, we are required to utilize our core as well as pull in opposing muscle groups. It's a whole body workout swinging these things around.

In so doing, you're working balance, coordination, muscular strength and endurance and your heart rate is up there as well. The proponents really like the whole body approach the kettlebell workout offers.

Depending on your personal joint issues, and your specific goals, the kettlebell may or may not have a place in your program. Any kettlebell workout should be done with a certified instructor, and specifically with someone who understands your joint issues.

Take the photo for example. Her squat position is decent, although her chest could be more upright. As she moves to her upright position her shoulders are impinged, her trapezius is doing all the work, and her quads are disengaged. Her shoulder joint is in a compromised position.

These tools can be used individually, or in a group setting. Like anything, it's not something to become competitive with in terms of how much weight you can swing around. Each of us has our own abilities and limitations.

Is it for everyone? Not in my opinion. This is something which has been developed for athletes, for law enforcement and for elite populations. It wasn't developed for general population use, and most people I know will tell you about their latest shoulder injury at the drop of a hat.

Can it be used safely. Sure, under strict guidance from someone who is trained and knows what they are doing. You can incorporate it within a certain range of motion for your ability, under supervision.

Like anything, it is a tool to add variety. But I do cringe most times I see someone pick one up and swing it around. Then I duck and take cover!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Magic Bullet Or Creative Marketing, On Fat Burning Ingredients

by Kris Pitcher

We would all love to boost our fat metabolism. Amen! There is of course some very creative marketing around this topic. Don't fool yourselves, this is a multi-billion dollar industry, and everyone wants to cash in on our desire to burn more fat.

Anecdotal claims aside, I mean I really don't care what your neighbor swears by, there is some valid science behind some of the supplementation out there. One of the most simple, and possibly least sexy, ways we can boost our metabolism is with caffeine.

Caffeine works to enhance the sympathetic nervous system activity releasing fatty acids from adipose and intramuscular tissue storage. Now, that is sexy.

One of the key findings here is that its effects seem to acutely enhance metabolism at rest and during low-intensity exercise but less during moderate and high-intensity exercise. (Jeukendrup & Randell 2011)

Now, this is me thinking out loud here (using my logic and all)...but since we are utilizing fatty acids at a larger rate during rest and low-intensity exercise to begin with due to the energy system we are using, it makes sense we are enhancing metabolism of that activity (during the energy system it's most active - low-intensity) with this supplement. Whew, that was a long winded thought. In short, the supplement works the best during the energy system were we are already releasing the most fatty acids.

Another big one in the supplement arena is L-carnitine. It's marketed to increase muscle mass, improve fat metabolism and enhance fat loss. Yes! Sign me up for that! So, does it work?

The science isn't sure. L-carnitine is present in large quantities in meat and has been of interest in the industry for over 20 years. That's a long time to study a supplement. What it does for us is transport long-chain fatty acids across the membrane of our muscle cell's mitochondrion. It takes the fatty acid to the place where it needs to go for further breakdown.

So, if we can increase the transport, we should be able to increase the amount of fat metabolism. But again, the science isn't conclusive. While this one isn't conclusively out, it's not conclusively in either. Twenty years of interest however, has my interest peaked.

There's the skinny on two commonly marketed fat burning ingredients. Read your labels, and know how these things interact with the rest of your plan. You can decide if you need a fancy fat burning complex. Or, if you might just need a quick cup of coffee before your cardio? It's up to you, now that you know.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Quiet Diet

by Kris Pitcher

Sometimes when we're doing something we think is really super great we stand on the roof-tops and shout it out. It's no wonder, I mean we are excited, motivated and ready to go!

Then we look around from up there...and no one else seems to be as excited about it as we are. This is where the "quiet diet" concept comes in handy. It might seem strange not to share what you're doing. Yet, in a way you're just dieting on the down-low.

When we are making lifestyle changes we can do a couple of things to help ourselves be more successful. We can start by knowing our changes will be lifelong rather than for a short period. With this in mind, the quiet approach makes sense.

If we are going to do things on a long-term basis, a big loud party certainly doesn't make sense. Getting everyone all riled up for years of change sort of seems like it might be lost on them. And it is.

It can also be scary for those around us to think about us making changes. The quiet approach of making small changes, or dieting on the down-low, is helpful here as well. When people feel threatened by our new lifestyle they often feel left behind.

This isn't any good for our relationships, for our family. But if we are quietly making small changes, it's easier to adapt. Before you know it, everyone wants to join you after dinner to go on a walk in the neighborhood if you just do it vs. making a huge production out of it.

So while the changes you are making seem big to you, and the commitment to that change is HUGE for's not a big enough deal to shout it from the roof-tops and expect a parade. Keeping things quiet, on the down-low, might help you embrace that inner power as you enact these changes for yourself.

As you do, you might be better equipped to field those questions when the people around you begin to ask you if you're slimming down, feeling more refreshed, or why all of a sudden you seem full of life. You'll know just why!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cucumber Soup!

by Kris Pitcher

Summer time is a great time for cold soup. This is a great one to try, and you could do it as instructed sauteed, or just put it in the food processer raw. The avocado makes it creamy smooth. Enjoy!


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 cups peeled, seeded and thinly sliced cucumbers, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 1 to 4 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Add 3 3/4 cups cucumber slices, broth, salt, pepper and cayenne; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook at a gentle simmer until the cucumbers are soft, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Transfer the soup to a blender. Add avocado and parsley; blend on low speed until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Pour into a serving bowl and stir in yogurt. Chop the remaining 1/4 cup cucumber slices. Serve the soup warm or refrigerate and serve it chilled. Just before serving, garnish with the chopped cucumber and more chopped parsley, if desired.

Per 1 cup serving: 173 calories; 12 g fat ( 2 g sat , 8 g mono ); 2 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 5 g fiber; 494 mg sodium;544 mg potassium.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Road Banana

by Kris Pitcher

There are days when we are on auto pilot. I mean, complete auto pilot. Did I stop at that sign? What did my boss just say to me? Who's picking up the kids? We have kids?

Mental focus goes out the window as we become more stressed, get less rest and often aren't getting the recovery we need in spirit or body. We seem to be over-loaded, and by all means we are over stimulated. We have information at the touch of our fingers, and we are connected 24/7.

This hasn't made us more focused. It's made us more frazzled. I am highly routined. I require my schedule, a very organized schedule because my day is quite full. Those of you who know me, know that I work 10 hour days and do my training on top of that. This requires me to stick to my schedule in order for everything to get done.

Some days when I leave the house at 6:30am, I wonder...did I stop at that sign? I remind myself I need to remain present in the moment, to focus on what I'm doing right now rather than think about the hundreds of things I need to get done during the day.

This leads me to road bananas. Now, you may live in a climate where road bananas are commonplace. The Inland Northwest is not one of them. So, as I was driving to get gas early one morning and I saw a road banana I realized, we are not focusing.

Around 10:00am that morning someone would be looking for their snack. They would check all around their desk, look in their banana. It wouldn't be anywhere in sight because they'd left it on top of their car as they drove away from their house.

Sure, road coffee cups are common...but I've rarely seen a banana. This person was going to miss their fruit. If we are leaving things on our car tops, we are in a big hurry to get out of the house. We are unfocused, in a rush and off schedule.

We live on auto pilot. It just makes me think we should consider disconnecting (after you read Fitness Bliss) now and then. It makes me think we don't need every facebook notification on our phone, every email, or every tweet. Maybe not all the time.

I hope you'll slow down this weekend, even just for a little while. Be outdoors, enjoy the people in your life...and even eat a banana.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Slimmer School

by Kris Pitcher

Today's lesson is a simple one. You won't need to take notes really, and there won't be a quiz at the end. You can put your paper away and your pencils down. This is just a "sit-n-get".

Whether we're talking about making changes to our eating habits, or seeing the results of lifting weights and doing our cardio...we have to do it if we expect it to work.

(The lesson was that last part.) We have to do it if we expect it to work. We can't buy a book or video and expect healthy meals to make themselves. We need to shop the right ingredients, prep the food, prepare it, pack it, take it with us, and ultimately eat it.

We don't just need to eat it. We need to eat it in the right amounts, and at the right times of the day in order to make changes. In order for it to work, we have to do it.

Our workouts are just the same. It's not enough to just join the gym. We need to actually go to the gym and once we are there we need to exercise. Doing any old thing isn't going to cut it. We may need to enlist the help of a professional to build a plan for us to follow.

Once we have our plan we can't just do it for a month. We need to keep doing long as we want it to work. Are we getting the crux of the lesson?

We spend time being frustrated that plans are not working. But if we were completely honest with ourselves we would need to admit, we're not really doing them. Or, we might be kind of doing them.

"Are you following the plan we discussed?" I might ask a frustrated client. "Yes, and I've added an extra piece of fruit and a yogurt - because I love that new Greek yogurt. That's healthy right?" They'll say.

Well perhaps, ONLY THAT'S NOT OUR PLAN! So, we have to do the plan if we want it to work. And we have to do weight management as long as we want it to work, which is pretty much forever.

Stop feeling frustrated about plans which aren't working...and analyze if you've actually been doing the plan. Chances are, you have room for improvement. We always do. Welcome to slimmer school!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Freedom From How You Feel

by Kris Pitcher

For all of our U.S. and state side readers, happy Independance Day! Today's topic will either set you free or set you off. Either way it's just something to put on the table.

We live in a society where more is better and bigger is a requirement. Our strong work ethic goes from our careers to every facet of our lives. That's not a bad thing.

One of the things I notice when I talk to people about different types of cardio is they bring up their feelings. Specifically, I talk to a lot of competitors who have a goal to burn fat. We talk about what kind of cardio they are doing which is often high intensity.

As I suggest low intensity, steady state cardio as the most effective fat burning energy system I consistently hear, "But, I don't feel like I'm doing enough."

They would rather burn muscle glycogen doing high intensity cardio than burn fat doing low intensity cardio so that they can "feel" like they are doing the "right" amount of work. Personally, I cannot feel my body burning fat.

I doubt you can feel that either. It comes down to trusting the science over our feelings. It's a situation where more is not better. But, how much high intensity interval cardio you do seems to determine how much of a bad *ss you are.

Don't get me wrong. There are absolutely reasons to do high intensity cardio. There are reasons to incorporate sprints into your routine if you have specific goals around that. When the specific goal for a competitor however is to burn fat and retain need to work smarter, not harder.

So, if you want to burn up your muscle glycogen rather than burning your body fat, by all means continue to do that high intensity cardio. Me? I'll keep all my hard earned muscle and do my low intensity, steady state cardio. I'll see you on stage.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Survey Says!

by Kris Pitcher

Survey says: two out of three people in the gym will secretly compete with the stranger next to them.

The race is on!
This is true. I can tell you that I am two of those three people rolled into one. And likely, you are the other one competing. In fact, that's one of the things I really like about the gym we go to - there are lots of competative people working out. It creates great energy.

I can tell you I am paying attention to what you're lifting. Ladies, there are only a few of you I'm paying attention to and you know who you are. You're super strong and we're friends, and I'm not really competing with you. It's the guys I've got my eyes on.

First of all you guys are kind of grunting, so it's drawing attention. Then when I look over and you're lifting the same as's like a train wreck I can't stop looking at. And it's on. We're competing. And you don't even know it.

If you did know it, you'd put more than one plate on that Hoist lat pull down. You wouldn't be grunting either. You don't hear me making a peep when I do my lat pull downs (with good form). Anyway, I realize I'm strong - but it's nice for you to validate it for me.

It happens on the treadmill too. Only I am not the one competing there. I do my own thing. But I've seen you all running, looking around at one another. You crane your head over to see how fast the guy next to you is running and the race is on!

So, it's human nature to be competitive in the gym. The survey confirms it and you've felt it too. Your secret is out...and so is mine! *Smile!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Why Diets Don't Work

by Kris Pitcher

There's a really simple reason why diets don't work. Well, maybe that's a simplified statement. But I'll break it down. The biggest reason diets don't work is because...

You quit doing them. That's right. Diets don't work because we stop doing them. But it's not all on you. By design, they are destined to fail. First of all, we start them with a short term philosophy.

Starting a "diet" typically equates to a short term change in eating that once we reach a certain weight, we are going to stop. This is the wrong mindset. It simply doesn't make sense to eat a certain way to get a specific result only to revert to a way of eating that made you over weight in the first place.

We'll never succeed with this mindset. Changing the way we eat, especially to achieve a change in our body composition, is something we need to do long term. You know what I say...we only have to do weight management as long as we want it to work.

The second huge reason "diets" fail is because they are frought with crazy. Some ding dong writes a book about eating only ice cream, or only chick peas (I made that up) and everyone is off on the next craze.

The reason these fad diets work is because they create a caloric deficit. Regardless of what you eat, if you're only eating 500 calories per day, you will lose weight. But here's where you'll fail - you cannot sustain this crazy for very long.

A rigid eating plan doesn't account for normal life. It doesn't teach you how to eat in a social situation, how to eat when you are traveling, or how to have variety in your diet. Eventually, you are sick and tired of the fad diet and you quit.

Any time you cut entire food groups out of your eating plan, you will eventually break and eat the thing you aren't supposed to - according to Dr. Ding Dong.

These are the reasons diets don't work. This is why you will find every fad diet book on the shelves of the second hand store. Everyone has tried and failed them all. You've lost and gained the weight tens of times over.

The key is setting yourself up for success by getting your head around the concept of a lifetime approach. Weight management is something you will do for the rest of your life. Eating well is a lifestyle, not a short term approach to a result.

There's no easy answer, no magic pill, and you can't have your cake and eat it too. You can enjoy moderation, regular exercise and making great choices. You can enjoy a lifetime approach to a healthy you!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

If I Were A Super Hero

by Kris Pitcher

I've given some thought to what kind of super hero I would be...if I were a super hero. Although I haven't worked out all of the details of my costume, I've got the basics figured out.

I would be a Science Super Hero! Are you disappointed? But I would be the sexy kind of super hero who wears some kind of skin tight sciency outfit. It would probably be various shades of green. With a cape.

Sure by day I would be a regular, probably geeky, person with a normal job. Then when important science calls...I would fly into action to dispell exercise myths and make the world believe in science.

Everyone would not only be in awe, they would actually believe in science. I would be able to wave my science hand across their forehead to wipe away their crazy ideas about magic bullets to make them skinny.

No one wants to be skinny anyway! My muscles would fill out my science hero outfit, and my legs would probably be longer...and I'd have vamped up features. I'd be all science-sexy!

I could swoop into grocery stores and fill carts with good choices putting smiles on faces just before I flew away. I could round up all the cardio-only's and put weights into their hands helping them increase their metabolism. As a Science Hero I could revolutionalize the world, helping people understand the science behind what they want.

So now you know my super hero dream to change the world. Now, I just need to put my outfit together!