Sunday, September 30, 2012

Post Contest Rebound

by Kris Pitcher

Oh, it can be ugly. So ugly in fact that you've been warned about it. You're scared about it even. You've sought advice for how to deal with it. It's post contest rebound.

Women experience huge weight gain, massive water retention, and serious depression. The rebound can be devastating. It's all a set up. This is an absolute opportunistic time.

And here's the thing - just get a plan together. It is opportunistic in that your muscles are primed to build. They are ready to suck up nutrients and grow like mad. They are thirsty for hydration and nutrients...waiting for you to do the right thing.

What happens is mental breakdown. This is followed by a landslide of carbs, which your body isn't equipped to handle. Before you know it you are on the roller coaster of insulin surges and you might as well have started crack.

The right thing to do? Enjoy a few things in moderation - while eating what you are supposed to eat. What does that mean? It means packing your 6 meals for the day before you head out of the house. It means increasing your healthy fats and increasing the good nutrients in your plan.

It means taking a few days, or a week, off of cardio so your body can have a rest. It means taking advantage of the opportunity of the rebound period by doing some light lifting to push some blood through the muscles.

It means keeping your head straight. It means maintaining some structure - lots of structure - in your life with both your eating and your exercise. You can choose to set yourself up for failure by hitting every restaurant in town because you feel you've been massively deprived.

Or, you can allow yourself some moderate indulgences while maintaining the structure of what your body is used to. Which makes sense for your rebound? Really, post contest rebound is all up to you. What you decide sets you up for your next show...can you guess what I'm doing?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sisterhood of the Traveling Posing Suit

by Kris Pitcher

There are a lot of things to know about posing suits. Especially to the new competitor, it can be a foreign land. Whether you compete in figure, bikini or're about to put on one tiny little piece of fabric. And there are just certain things someone should have had the decency to tell you.

It's like the sisterhood of the traveling pants. Everyone needs a big sister to tell her how this thing works. I don't profess to know much about much...but I know a little about a few things. Posing suits is one of the things I've gotten good at.

First you have to decide where to buy this strange "costume". Get on line and start shopping. Ask for referrals. Word of mouth is like gold in this industry and I can't recommend CJ's Elite Competition Wear highly enough.

Everyone has a budget and frankly, that's going to drive where you shop to a certain extent. You can buy something fairly simple and add crystals if you have a steady hand and are the slightest bit crafty.

But there are some first timer mistakes I'd like to help you avoid. Thus the "sisterhood" concept. Practice posing in your suit. If you're not comfortable moving in it, it will show on stage. Don't be afraid of the suit.

Low slung sides are for gangsters, not competitors. PLEASE get those side bands belly button height on your hips. This creates a smaller waist. We all want that. If you let them ride low...your waist looks long and your legs look short. No bueno.

Criss-cross will make you jump (jump) - ok, you may be too young for that reference. Your suit straps cross in the back and need to be tight. This helps to keep those sides at the right place on your hips. You can either tie them to the bottom of your suit, or sew on connectors if you have some sewing skills.

Keep the "girls" in by tying the strap around your neck like you're trying to choke yourself. Well, not literally, but it should be tight as well. Once you are all tied in, this goes for you bikini girls too - PLEASE cut your straps.

I know the last thing you want to do is put scissors any place near your expensive suit. But, you will look like an amature if you have long straps hanging down your back ladies. This is your sister telling you how it is. Cut em.

If your suit fits you well, you will not need to glue it to your body like you're afraid you'll fall out by simply walking five feet. The problem is, you buy a cheap suit that doesn't fit. So, use bikini bite, or spray adhesive and glue your buns in.

If your suit comes away in the front AT ALL, put a little glue there too. No one wants to see that on stage. People naturally glue the back, but forget they can glue the front. Even though it's baby tippy outty.

Great, you're all glued you have to pee. Well ladies here's the art of the post-glue pee. You have two options. Ruin your glue job. Or, pull your suit to one side and let er go. Hey, no one said this was going to be pretty. Try not to pee on yourself. A pro can do the doo this way too. Just saying...experience. Flat tummy ladies. It's a good thing.

The fit of your top is important too. Where the cups begin and end based on the placement of your breasts is really key and can completely change your look. A lot of times a small chested gal will choose a close placement in the center, when a bit wider placement might look better.

Likewise, a larger girl will often pull the cup way into her armpit for coverage and it ends up looking like her entire chest and lats are covered up. In that case pushing the sides closer in looks better. So, this takes a good eye. It's an art.

You are going to want to clean your suit right away after your show (the next day). It will be a sad, sweaty, tanned, mess of sparkle lying in a heap on the bathroom floor. Scoop her up and get her taken care of.

I get a big plastic bowl from the kitchen and put cold water in it with a pump of baby wash. I put a pump of the wash in my hand and work the lining of the fabric in the crotch of the bottom of the suit. Then I gently swish it in the bowl. Yuck! Brown water!

Then I rinse it under cold water and put it on a towel (no ringing out). I do the same to the top. Then I roll the suit in the towel to soak excess water before laying it on a dry towel to completely dry. This is a quick process. You don't want to spend much time in the water.

Once it's dry, you can store it in a zipper bag. I've seen people hang them...but that makes no sense to me. Why pull on the elastic? Do what makes sense to you.

Know that MOST of you is out of the suit. So, by all means get your hair removal down. The judges and audience are looking up at you with the lights lighting you up like a neon sign. Any fuzzy hair...anywhere, is going to look like a halo.

And while you might be an angel, this is not the moment to share the fuzz on your buns, toes, or low back. Get a handle on it.

Removing it will not make it come in black, thick, or double next time. Those are old wives tales. Remove. Your. Hair.

Well sisters, I think you're ready to shine on stage. Pick a color that you love, a suit that makes you feel great and one that fits your budget. There are lots to choose from. Most importantly, get your diet and training in line so the suit matters at all. Happy competing!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Contest Coverage!

by Kris Pitcher

You might be wondering how my contest went. Either that or you are just SICK of hearing about it. Regardless, I'm going to give you the low down on the Night of Champions 2012!

After a great year of training, pushing myself, and working on bringing a new level of sharpness to my physique I was ready to hit the stage! Then I almost got HIT.

Friday, on my way to get my hair done I was approaching an intersection of congested traffic and red lights. Everyone was slowing down...except the IDIOT behind me. Tires screeching, smoke billowing and you can imagine what kind of four letter words are going through my mind.

My support, Jacques
Sitting there in my tanned skin, silky PJ's (and nothing else), I'm looking in my rear view mirror wondering if this jack-hole is going to hit me.

Crisis averted as he swerved and went into the other lane. Seriously, pay attention. I've got a contest to compete in!

Saturday morning came very early and things progressed smoothly. I was able to indeed get my false eyelashes on even with the impediment of my false nails. Boy did I feel disabled. I know you ladies have figured out how to do all kinds of things with long nails. But that's not for me.

Make-up on and hair straight as a board (thank you for cooperating over night), I was ready to put my feet up and keep on eating those delicious dry carbs. I felt tired, anxious, nervous, thirsty...the kind of thirsty that could lead you to kill a person.

I was right on track! My bag was by the door like an expectant mother and we were off. I chose to compete in three divisions, making for a long morning of lots of stage time. And lots of work. Masters Figure, over 40; Open Figure class B; and Women's Physique.

Following pre-judging I knew I needed to stay on point. Translation: no water, boring fish meals & dry carbs. But this is a good thing. We rested up for the night show when we'd learn my fate.

Masters, 12 amazing women competing for the title and I would take 2nd place amongst them. Women's Physique begins with the presentation of the routine...which I thought about for about 5 minutes. Sorry, winged it. I was very focused on the work to get stage ready. Knowing it doesn't count for my score made it kind of like that book report you never got to.

I took 3rd place in the WP division amongst 5 very different looking physiques. Still evolving...but a great placing and it qualifies me to do something at the national level should I choose. Happy with that.

Open Figure was the final class for me. The one I felt the best about. And it's the one I won. Seven great competitors in that category including one new comer who I will have to watch out for, she's going to be awesome.

Karly wins overall!
So winning my class meant going for the overall against the winners of each of the other open classes. One of those competitors was team mate Karly, who is fantastic. We went into the contest hoping she'd take overall. Standing next to her was an honor. Sure enough she did win overall. And we couldn't be more proud of her! A very exciting moment.

After a very long and very rewarding day I can reflect by being proud of a productive year of hard work, being humbled by my fellow competitors, being grateful for those who support me, and being thankful for the community of friends in the sport.

A couple of days of scary "unstructured" eating, and I am back on point...I've got something new in sight. And that's how plans are made ;)

Monday, September 24, 2012

When Heroes Are Friends

by Kris Pitcher

Sometimes people say things to you that just stop you in your tracks. Your eyes dart back and forth...looking for someone who might be standing close to you. Was she talking to me?

Sure enough, she wasn't just talking to me - she was looking RIGHT at me and directly giving me a compliment. Stopped me in my cerebral tracks.

Not because I've never received a compliment. Not because it was the first time someone had told me they are an avid reader. That very evening I met a wonderful woman, who told me she loves my blog.

It stopped me because she's someone who I look up to. She's someone who has a remarkable physique and is an amazing competitor. She's a strong, confident woman. What's not to be considered a heroine in that?

So, when she said I was her hero...all I could say was, "Shut up!" Which wasn't very nice? I didn't literally mean "shut up". I meant, that's completely ironic because you're my hero!

When heroes are friends they can create a strong network of amazing women. They can support one another and celebrate each other's successes.

They don't have to be bitchy, envious, catty, or back-stabby...they can just be heroes. Take the opportunity to tell your hero why she's so amazing. Expand your network and support rather than sabotage one another.

So, thanks Susie...I think you're pretty amazing too - have for a long time. And I appreciate you stopping me in my cerebral tracks. I'm glad to know you're a reader. I'll keep putting my thoughts out here and organizing all that swirls in my head. *Smile.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Extra Naked

by Kris Pitcher

This is an exciting contest season for me. Each prep is different from the last, and this is no exception. One of the fun things along the way are the comments my husband makes.

Now, some people get all crazy when they prep. They get mean, they fight, they have hysterical fits...and I may have my moments, but over all I'm pretty even tempered.

My point is my husband and I not only stay friends, but we also diet together. We're good at keeping the crazy out, and the supportive in. As I started my peak week he said to me, "You've already won. You look your best ever, so no matter what happens, you've won."

We talked about my new physique. And it is my best ever. It's exciting. I hope it's what the judges want to see.

He said after looking at me in my CJ's Elite Suit, "Your suit matches the quality of your physique." It's one thing to have a one of a kind suit which is top of the line in the industry. But to have the quality of physique worthy of wearing it is another thing altogether.

But as he assessed the leanness of my abs last week he said, "You're so lean you look extra naked." Now, this was not a technical, nor professional, all. But it made me laugh pretty hard! You're either naked, or you're not naked!

Can you look extra naked?! Apparently you can. And this prep has been proof that indeed you can top what you did last year and you can achieve more.

You can bring in a whole new look, and bring a whole new level of polish to your package on stage. It proves you can cross divisions...fingers still crossed on that one. And it proves you can look...extra naked. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

If A Tree Falls...

by Kris Pitcher

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it...does it make a sound? The answer is yes. And if you had to think about that one AT ALL, I'm a little bit worried about you.

The truth is, what we do does matter even when no one is there to see it. The reality is we are ultimately accountable to ourselves.

We are the big noise in the woods. The bite here, the snack there, the cleaning of plates as you clear the table all when you thought no one was looking - all noise.

Well those things add up. Big time! Just because no one is there to "monitor" or to "hear" you doesn't mean those things don't count. Wouldn't you just be fooling yourself if you thought that?

In fact, I would have to worry about you a little bit. I would wonder if you had your head in the sand. We need to be conscious of our habits, of what we are deciding to do. Those bites don't happen to us, we take them.

When we aren't making progress we begin to question our plan, our exercise, our guidance. But the truth is, we haven't been doing our plan. We've been adding all kinds of extras to it. Of course it's not working...we're not doing it!

We look to the internet to find out what could possibly be medically wrong with us. Which syndrome do we have? What tests should we get our doctor to perform? Try this one: close mouth, eat what you're suppose to eat and stop pretending the stuff you eat when no one is watching doesn't "count".

Tough love. Sorry, it's contest week and you get me raw and unfiltered. You get me in my tell-it-like-it-is state. You get me with all my love. Because this mindset is just silly. And because I see it and see right through it.

Someone did tell me recently I was a bit more, "direct" of late. Well, dieting will do that to me. I thanked him and told him I'd watch my mouth. You however, can hear the tree fall through the forest...whether you're standing in it or not. You know if a tree falls, it makes a sound.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Great Eyebrows!

by Kris Pitcher

The other day I had a great meeting with a couple of team members and a potential volunteer. This gentleman, self-reported to be 73, was quite a character. He

As we began the meeting he expressed that he did not like our organization and proceeded to tell me why. His experience was valid, impressionable and I couldn't find fault in it. There never is fault after all in someones experience.

I thanked him for sharing his Vietnam era experience with us and let him know that it's only when we learn about how people feel, can we begin to move forward as an organization. I shared that when people care, they'll tell us they're unhappy. So, I felt truly grateful to him for sharing his distaste. And I told him so.

I also told him that organizationally we learn from our history, like any group, and we're able to move forward and serve better as a result of our mishaps.

Our meeting went really well. There were other points of challenge along the way. There were areas where I needed to clarify where things fit. I had opportunities to define what his role would be, where his limits and boundaries would be.

We were establishing a relationship. We were determining how we would work with one another. We were determining what we had disliked in the past, what things ticked us off, what things we were able and willing to do for one another. We were direct, open and honest. We laughed.

This is how you should go about choosing your trainer, your coach, the person who's going to prep you for your show. Tell them what you don't like, what hasn't worked in the past, why you've been unhappy. Build the relationship with direct conversation. You can't expect anyone to guess.

Work out what your expectations are, how you'll communicate, who will do what and when. Laugh. Get to know one another. Listen. Apologize.

At the end of the meeting this man had warmed to me greatly. He said, "I've got to tell you one last thing and then I'll get out of here and let you do your work."

"I love your eyebrows." he said. "The way you do them is just really nice!" I leaned back and laughed. I went on to confess that I had recently had them redone and that they were tattooed. He liked that, but admitted his wife would kill him for having said it, at our meeting no less.

We'll have a good working relationship moving forward. He's not afraid to say what's on his mind...even if it's - great eyebrows! Think about the way you hire someone as important as your coach. Think about...their eyebrows.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Hot Yoga Nightmare

by Kris Pitcher

The scenario went something like this: I was on a trip and being hosted by someone else, so I was a guest. I was also in a warm, tropical even, climate. Sounds nice...

As such, I was still training for my competition and keeping myself on track. My host and several others wanted me to join them in a hot yoga class. Now, for many reasons I didn't want to do the hot yoga class.

I was thinking to myself - that will kill me! There's no way I can do that and still lift later. My hosts were showing me the courtyard where the class would take place. It was an open air, beautiful space. I smiled and wondered how would I get out of this.

In my dream, I negotiated my way out of participating in the hot yoga class. What's the big deal you're wondering? Why didn't I just do the hot yoga class with my hosts and call it good?

Even in my dream, I knew that doing the class would be a conflict with my goals. It's a conflict because it would completely dehydrate me leaving me without energy to do what I need to do in order to meet my primary goal.

So, can't I do both? Well I could do both. But I wouldn't really be able to either one really well. And that's the whole point. In my dream I was protecting my primary goal of building and maintaining muscle for competition.

I find many competitors want to "do it all". The challenge is many of those activities are competing - competing for energy, for muscle fiber type (search it and read my blog), and competing for time. The reality is if you want to compete and do "just ok" you can do both.

But if you want to compete and bring your "A" need to focus your energy on one thing. Focus your energy on bringing your best to the stage. The extra curricular activities won't matter when you don't place. And that is my hot yoga nightmare.

Monday, September 10, 2012

End of My Rope

by Kris Pitcher

I'm at the end of my rope. What I mean by that is my pants are falling down. The very same pants that one month ago...did not fit. Said pants two months from now, also will not fit. But that's not the point.

The point is, my belt is at the end of it's rungs and nothing. Falling down. All I can do is extend my belly to try to fill up the space - and still I'm in danger of losing these girls!

A gallon of water, a full bladder...and still in danger. So, here I am closing in on my contest holding my pants up with one hand. The other day I put a top on that ties in the back. As I brought the ties behind me, I just kept on going back around in front and tied it there.

I am a changed woman. Walking around in bags of clothes sort of makes me feel like maybe I haven't changed. Yet buying smaller and smaller clothes doesn't work either. This year, my rear is more muscular and to tell you the truth many of my smaller sizes just didn't fit.

I'm not the "right" shape for those. So, counting down the days to September 22nd with my skirts cinched in, and pants held up as best I can, with tops like tents...I can hardly wait for my posing suit to arrive. Something that actually will fit me!

With all this I am reminded that this body is but a short lived one to inhabit. After my show I will begin to fill things back out again. It's the ebb and flow of the competitor's physique. My rope will begin to be let out ever so slowly as I make my gains.

A very short time of sloshing around in these clothes for me. Then I'll show you all the hard work with some photos! In the mean time...I've got one hand on my waistband!  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Eating At Work

by Kris Pitcher

Pizza for a meeting, cupcakes because it was someones birthday, chocolate, and vanilla filled cookies by the microwave...and the always full tray of miniature chocolate bars in so-and-so's cubicle. That my friends is just another day at the office.

So, how do you navigate through what might be considered a land mine at work? You go "Girl Scout" and take the motto, "Be Prepared!"

Left to chance or circumstance we would all be - well eating pizza and cupcakes at work on an all too frequent basis to maintain any sort of goal. The challenge is those things don't fit our goals, and won't get us where we say we want to go.

I guess it comes down to eating like normal people. If you take a look around...that's "normal".

Most people are skirting obesity. The new normal. You can eat that stuff, but you'll be normal. You'll join the masses in the rising numbers of the medical journals.

Or, you can keep your goals fresh at mind and your plans well executed by...being prepared. That means taking all your food. You can't eat what you don't have. Getting the food right is the hardest part.

You've got to purchase what you need, prep it, pack it, take it, and eat it. Period. This is how you navigate the land mine that is eating at work. Working out is actually the easy part to making progress. It's getting the food down which is the biggest challenge.

Get it right and you will make gains, losses, whatever your goal is. You will get there once you get your food in order. And, since you spend the majority of your day at work, why not start there. Structure the 40 plus hours a week you spend working by eating the way you are supposed to eat. Let's start seeing some progress by eating right, at work.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Strongest Summer Muscle

by Kris Pitcher

September has brought cool fall mornings. I had to turn the heat on in the car, and I can tell it's time to adjust my wardrobe. But before I do, I can't help but share my strongest summer muscle.

Spending the summer prepping for a contest kept me busy working lots of muscles...but these were not forgotten. These were primarily worked, well, at work.

I'm talking about my feet. See, with all the trips to the bathroom and the requisite summer mules or've got to keep your shoes on when you flush. Crickets? It's true!

The last thing you want is to lose a shoe in the bowl! And we don't have those fancy self-flushing type of toilets where I work, you have to flush yourself. Keeping your shoe on while you do takes a certain strength in the foot.

So, the summer did not go by without notice that my feet are strong. That's all I'm saying. We need to stop and give ourselves credit now and then for the progress we're making. I'm taking full credit on this one.

Flush away ladies! Notice how strong those feet are? Not a chance we're losing a shoe in there!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Eat Your Heart Out!

by Kris Pitcher

I've given this a lot of thought in the last few days. I would be L-Y-I-N-G if I told you I didn't miss eating certain things. I MISS EATING CERTAIN THINGS! So, I thought...why not tell you some of them.

almonds, peanut butter, sugar-free gum, diet soda, a tuna sandwich with cheese, pizza, ice cream, soft serve ice cream, an Angus burger, sushi, salami, a sandwich on rustic bread, a cupcake, berries, banana, any fruit really, a burrito, sour cream on anything, home made pie, the fruit cake in the freezer, a bowl of Pho, mango sorbet, more sushi, bacon, my chocolate chocolate chip bacon cookies, dried fruit, red peppers, tacos from the actual Mexican place, my mother-in-law's baba rum cake, a glass of champagne, raisin toast with jam, and a really good brownie...

That's all I can bring myself to recollect. I'm nearly paralyzed and I'm going to go eat 4 oz. of something delicious. These things will all be there when I'm great moderation! I know I'm not missing out on much of anything that can't wait until I reach my goal. Now, eat your heart out!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What Happens After Your Contest

by Kris Pitcher

You made it to the big day! You even made it through your show without falling off your shoes, out of your suit or down the steps of the stage. Celebrations take place. People give you flowers. Meals are enjoyed...Now what?

Now you are completely and utterly lost. You find yourself without direction and purpose. You feel sad, depressed even and you've eaten yourself into a dizzying stupor. You watch your body disappear in literally 48 hours...yes, the one that took you 5 months to get.

Where do you go from here? Many people find themselves wondering what happens after their contest. What I wonder is where they've been all along?

Here's what I mean. Our journey is our destination. The destination is not the actual show. It's not the physical contest, that 12 or 16 hour window of time when you present yourself which is the destination.

The "destination" is our journey - our whole journey not just one day. The entire process getting us there, what we learn about ourselves. It's what happens along the entire way. The journey is our destination.

Once our journey has been completed...we start another one. Whether we transition to an off season plan, back to a "regular" family life, or pick another show date - we embark on another journey.

Thinking about the process as culminating in just one day sets us up for mental failure, for depression, for loss and confusion. If you have a show date coming up, you still have time to wrap your head around this concept.

You have time to see the destination all around you as you are on your journey, right now. It's not one day on your calendar in front of you. It's right now. You also have time to wrap your head around what your journey will continue to look like after that day. That day doesn't end things for you.

So, what happens after your contest is all up to you. It depends on if you are able to see your journey as your destination. It depends on if you can see that one day as just that, one day, along a path of many. Where will your path lead next?