Friday, November 30, 2012

An Ounce of Prevention

by Kris Pitcher

Tis the season to raise your glass, right? It is also the season of choices. For many people, enjoying a libation here and there is part of the holiday cheer.

Consider a plan of prevention if you are going to indulge. A little pre-planning can go a long way toward helping you stay (somewhat) on track toward your goals over the holiday season.

Club soda is your friend. Add a lime twist and you are feeling refreshed. This is your "go to" drink between every alcoholic drink you enjoy. Pace yourself. You're not in college.

I had to actually laugh out loud as I looked up the calories in that cabenet you love. It's listed in a 4 ounce portion at 90 calories. So, let's multiply that by FOUR for the big girl glass...and the wine is 360 calories.

It's festive and the top shelf is being poured so maybe you have that pina colada that takes you back to your recent vacation memories. That will cost you 260 calories. Or maybe you go for the hot buttered rum in that tiny cup for 160 calories.

Champagne is always a lady's friend at about 130 calories (one glass to remain a lady). That whisky will cost you 220 calories, but it does go down smooth...

Now, you might want to consider the wine spritzer. A 2 oz wine topped with 6 oz of seltzer is just 40 calories. Lots of decisions to be made. Keep in mind an ounce of prevention goes a long way toward keeping you on track this season. Make wise choices as you raise that glass! Cheers!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Always Feeling Hungry?

by Kris Pitcher

Lots of people have trouble eating their calories. That is, eating all of the food their supposed to eat. As we are working toward our goals to increase muscle mass, and decrease fat we need the right nutrients in the right amounts.

It's not uncommon for people to struggle to get in the protein they require, yet they somehow find it easy to eat their carbs (that's another blog *smile). These folks tend to want to drink their calories. They'll drink five shakes a day. But there's a problem with that.

Those same people will complain that they feel hungry. Now, they are getting the right amount of calories, the same as they would if they were eating the solid food equivalent. So, what gives?

Ghrelin. Ghrelin is our hunger producing hormone. When we drink our calories, we don't signal the same drop in ghrelin as we do when we eat solid food. So, we still feel hungry. The challenge is people who drink their calories tend to overeat.

If you are one of those five shakes a day people, try reducing the number of shakes and increasing the number of whole food meals you're having. See if your hunger levels decrease along with that.

The solid food does require some preparation, planning and a cooler...but once you get a system down it's just as convenient as drinking a shake and having a dirty shaker bottle to contend with. Giving your body the right signals makes a huge difference in the chemical reactions that are happening.

If you struggle with hunger, send the right signals by eating solid food meals versus drinking your calories. Reduce that ghrelin and tell your body you aren't hungry. It's science people!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Holiday Force

by Kris Pitcher

With Black Friday behind us, we can without doubt say the holidays are upon us. There is no denying, we are knee deep in this. It's time to bring out the force if you're going to get through this season.

In good form I wanted to say, "May the force be with you." But honestly, the force must be within you. Making it through the holidays in one piece means you need to have the force within you to decide.

Making good decisions is all within you. There will be external road bumps, barriers and massive potholes every where you turn. When you are aware of the force within you, you're on a whole different playing field.

The thing about it is you go into the season with your choices already made. I'm going to stay on track with my eating plan. I'm going to continue to go to the gym and workout. I will do my cardio.

That is the "force", your plan. Knowing it and being committed to it is your decision. Period. December rolls around and suddenly everyone is too busy to workout? I don't get it. You're seriously THAT busy shopping and attending social functions that you can't give yourself one hour a day?

And the food! We know the food will be all around us. It will be in the break room at work, there will be pot luck lunches, and holiday gatherings. Specialty items will arrive at the door, they'll be on the shelves of the store, and of course you'll honor your family traditions.

The force will still be within you to make decisions about all that extra food. Do you really need to celebrate the season with a specialty cookie? Or can you enjoy a cup of peppermint tea instead? It's all up to you, your choices, your decisions.

How you make it through the next two months is entirely up to you. The choices you make are yours alone. The force is within you. Make it a good holiday!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday the Price is Yours!

by Kris Pitcher

The need for "one upping" has really come to an all time low. As a result, Black Friday has become an utter disappointment. Did you know you could have started your shopping last night at 8:00 PM?

You don't even have to camp out any more!? Retailers are on to you and they have the wool pulled so tight over our eyes we can't even see. Black Friday now begins Thursday afternoon. And why wait even that long...the sales started Wednesday.

The need for a week of endurance training and water depletion leading up to the big day is over. Sorry. You athletes out there have no thrills left this shopping season. Anyone can do it.

You don't have to be able to brave the cold, dark, stormy weather. You didn't have to pitch your tent or even run yelling, "Charge!" for the doors. This could waltz right in after your Thanksgiving meal and shop all night.

Frenzy? Not this year. Families are taking breakfast breaks after a successful night of shopping for deals. And maybe it's all for the best. This has never been a sport for the weak hearted.

Nope. This year everyone can shop at their leisure on "Black Friday" saving loads on over-priced items no one needs this holiday season. And as we do I have a suggestion, give yourself the most important gift of all this season.

Give yourself the gift of self-care now. Don't wait until after the next BIG meal. Don't wait until January 1st. Don't wait until all the company goes home. Don't wait until all the leftover pie is gone.

Get yourself off the couch. Drink your water. Put the "one glass of wine" which holds half the bottle, down. Take a walk, or get to the gym. Lay off the carbs and sugar. Eat what you are supposed to eat.

These are gifts only you can give. They aren't on sale today. They are yours every day and the price is your choice.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Your Check In

by Kris Pitcher

I was just certain it would be more...the number on the scale. After a week of "unstructured" eating while traveling for Jacques' competition at Nationals I was sure I'd be up another five pounds.

Admittedly, I did some stress eating. I ate some garbage...I ate plenty of carbs. My workouts also took a turn for the worse as all focus went to getting him on stage. I did get two cardio sessions in and did full body workouts right along side him.

To say I was off schedule would be putting it nicely. So, when I stepped on the scale Monday morning upon our return, I was surprised. Pleasantly.

And my point is, I was beating myself up over nothing. I hadn't over consumed, I had remained pretty active, and my body probably needed a little rest. I was fine.

Here I am, nine weeks into my off season and I am still wearing my little jeans with the sparkly back pockets. The very same jeans I wore for approximately one week last year. One week!

Sometimes we work things up in our heads to be much more than they are. What we really need is a bit of a reality check. By checking in with my numbers I could see that indeed, I wasn't 140 pounds as I was certain I must be. But I was holding at 134.

There simply isn't any need to beat yourself up. Circumstances won't always be perfect, and neither will you. You work with what you have and you move on. You get back on track. And that Monday morning following our Sunday return...I was up at 4:30am on the stairmaster.

If you find you're beginning to get worked up as the holidays near, give yourself a break until you can work in your workout. It will be waiting for you. There's nothing to get worked up about if you are making good choices along the way. Check in, before you get worked up!

Monday, November 19, 2012


by Kris Pitcher

I am really excited about a tuber. As soon as I was done with my contest...I went right back to this tasty treat. I can't hold out on you any longer. I have to tell you how excited I am about jicama.

If you're not noshing on this crunchy're missing out. Like I said, it's a tuber. And, it's actually in the bean family. So, it's considered a sort of legume. It's popular in Mexico and it's referred to as the "bean-yam".

It's not bean-y, or yam-y. It's more water chestnut-y. I peel it and slice it and crunch it raw. It's mostly water and is a carbohydrate. But it's got a special characteristic.

It's full of dietary fiber and it gets its sweetness from a substance that stimulates the activity of bacteria in the digestive system. It's a prebiotic. The jicama is considered to be between a food and a medicine...

I have no idea if it's working any miracles in my gut, but it is refreshing and crunchy. It's also full of vitamins C, B, A and phosphorus and calcium. If you can find it, you should try it. It's tuberlicious!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Create Ready Set Go!

by Kris Pitcher

People get frustrated because they just never seem to be able to get going. They get the "ready", and they get the "set". But they have no "go!". The go really is the most important part.

The problem is, they don't really have the "ready" down. What I mean is they aren't ready for change. They might think they're ready, but the reality is change is very difficult.

Change means you actually have to do things differently. You have to change them. Pretty deep. You've heard the expression, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."

It's true, if you keep doing the same things expecting a different outcome, you are not getting it. And you're not ready. You might even have the set and the go. But if you don't have the "ready"'re not going to get anywhere.

It's hard to describe but you know when you are ready to accept change. You know when you are willing to do things differently, to stop being defensive about your behaviors, to accept that what you've been doing might not be serving you well.

Those things take courage, humility and the ability to take direction. It's hard to come to the realization that you might not have been treating your body all that well. Seriously, no harm, no foul. You just make better decisions one by one. That's how you accept readiness.

If you've been wavering on readiness to change, think about making a small change today. Just a small one. You don't have to tell anyone about it, just do it for yourself. Small changes add up, leading to big changes. That's how you create "ready"!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fluff and Circumstance

by Kris Pitcher

Much of exercise is exactly as Nike says...just do it. But most of us put a lot of fluff and circumstance into the process making it really difficult to accomplish much, or be very successful at any of it.

What's fluff and circumstance? It's all the gear - the i-pod, the earphones, the arm band thingy, the newspaper/magazine/novel, e-reader, and the calorie burner/hr monitor. It's all the scheduling - when will I fit it in, what's the best time, what if so-and-so can't meet me?

The fluff is all the stuff and the circumstance are all the barriers we put up around why we can't seem to ever really make it happen. It's all the ceremony around making it into something bigger than it has to be.

Instead of spending all that energy on all of that...we could have already just done it. Ultimately, we're looking for excuses why it won't work instead of looking for ways to make it work. I'm not sure why our nature is to self sabotage in that way.

If you strip away all the fluff and circumstance you just have the actual work. So, my advice is just do the work. Quit looking for reasons why you can't do the work. You can do the work.

The work won't get done for you, no one but you can do, just get up and go. Put away your fluff and circumstance and get going. Strip away the can'ts and the won'ts for cans and wills. It's your choice to meet your goals. You create that. Don't let fluff and circumstance get in your way!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Anonymous Rubbish

by Kris Pitcher

The look in her eye told me this was something to share in a big way. I almost couldn't hear the words coming from her mouth because I was so struck by the sparkle...or the roar of the commercial clothes dryers.

No, it was the glint in her eyes as she recounted an experience she'd had 21 floors above. Now, there are chores no one likes to do. If you've ever had to ask someone in your household to take the trash out you know what I'm talking about.

It's almost as if you've just asked them to gather up all the trash in the house, strip naked, and go door to door selling it to the neighbors. In just want them to remove the almost overflowing bag from the kitchen and take it 50 feet outside to the trash can.

Taking the trash out is a chore no one likes. Everyone likes a fresh, empty trash can in the kitchen especially. But taking it out, no one likes to do the asking, or the taking.

When you're 21 floors up things are different. You urban dwellers might not know how good you have it. So, I'm going to tell you. Welcome to the rubbish chute!

The look in Susie's eyes, the sparkle, the joy in her voice told me without exception she'd just experienced one of the most exhilarating things in her life. And this is why I think that is.

As you open the chute and release your trash, you can hear the echo of it making it's way into darkness. Having only your imagination to determine it's final imagine it disappears into thin air. Almost. But the real joy, the pure joy, is the anonymity.

That's right. Anonymous rubbish. For me, this is THE most exciting part about the trash chute. You have all this high-rise trash coming from random places into one central location and no one knows what you threw away!

I love that. Maybe it was all the anthropology classes I took in college (which were very interesting but who's going to be an anthropologist?) but I don't want anyone analyzing who I am now or after I'm dead by going through my trash.

Having said that...I really should purge more of my stuff. Anyway, the point is it is a complete joy to release your trash in a chute rather than walk your trash outside. Period.

All you high rise dwellers can just pause for a moment and relish in your rubbish. My urbanites can take joy for a day in another way to look at your life. Because in the eyes of a rural living gal...having anonymous rubbish is pretty exhilarating.

Friday, November 9, 2012

On Strength of Character

by Kris Pitcher

Strength is an amazing thing. On Halloween, at work we had a Board meeting and we always try to do something fun to engage people. One of the members asked everyone to tell what they would dress up as if they could be anything.

I felt pressure. This could, after all, be a career limiting answer if I didn't select it carefully. I was thinking about super heroes with their strength and courage. But then sometimes...I already feel like one.

That might sound a little overly self confident, but as a competitor I hear a lot of, "I just don't know how you do it." And, "You have such strength to eat like that." Statements which make me feel like I have some super power.

Mine is nothing compared to that of my husband. I've watched him prepare for the NPC Nationals...and the time is finally here. He's eaten countless pounds of white fish and egg whites for weeks on end in preparation.

He's done hour upon hour of cardio often early in the morning and late into the night to accommodate his schedule with clients. He's maintained his ability to care for each of them along the way...even when it got difficult.

He's battled fatigue on the days when there just wasn't anything left to pull from. He's managed a smile for me even when he didn't feel the least bit happy inside. He pushed (and pulled) through his workouts until the very end.

Strength is an amazing thing. We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for. We can push ourselves beyond limits imaginable to reach goals unheard of.

It's due to strength of character. It's what's inside the heart and the soul. It's what's inside the mind. It's who we are at the core that drives us to dig this deep. I've never been more proud of my very own super hero. Hit that stage Jacques!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Forgive My Sins

by Kris Pitcher

This is the age old question. Everyone asks it. And while I'd like to grab you by the shoulders and shake you when the words leave your's not your fault because you've been programmed to repent.

It goes something like this. You go off plan. There are so many reasons why that might happen we'll just reach up in the air and pick one. You go off plan because you celebrate your wedding anniversary with a weekend get-away. (Sounds nice...)

The next thing that happens is you come back to your real life and you immediately stand on the scale (that's another blog all together). You don't like what the scale says. Even though you know you've gone off plan (you were there!) you are shocked, surprised, and saddened by what you see.

Then the question comes into your mind because you get this idea that you must repent. You ask yourself (or your trusted coach/trainer/professional), "What can I cut to get back where I started before my wonderful weekend?"

Seriously, don't feel sheepish, everyone does this. We are programmed to ask this question - which brings a question too big for even this blog, so I'll leave that one.

Here is the answer. Nothing. You do nothing. What you do is you get right back on plan. You eat exactly what you are supposed to eat, all of it. You do your exercise, all of it. You drink your water, all of it.

But you certainly don't cut any of the good stuff out. You cut the bad stuff out, which you will automatically do by not having brunch on Sunday morning in the resort. You're home now, back on plan. Do. Your. Plan.

That little celebratory break didn't set you back for weeks. You can get right back on track after enjoying the foundation of your life. No biggie. You don't need to repent for that. You haven't committed any sins. *Smile!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Point of Points

by Kris Pitcher

Being rewarded is nice. I'm a member in a million reward programs. Earning points for this and racking up rewards for that. You're familiar with these loyalty programs. You're earning miles, and points yourself.

Some people are really savvy at earning and using their points. These systems are perfect for the very frequent shopper or consumer. Which admittedly, I am not.

I think it's this "rack 'em up!" mentality which frustrates me about the points based diet programs. I'll preface my frustration by saying - these are great programs. It's really your behavior that I'm going to challenge.

Let's talk about the way you use your points, and the way the points might best serve you. I know you are saving your points like miles toward a big trip of a life time. When you want to drink with the girls or go out after save up all week.

What your "saving" means is you are going without meals. You are going without nutrition during the week so you can uncork your points later on. Now, if these were simply "reward" points for being a loyal customer...that would be fine.

But they are not reward points. They are points allocated for you to make food choices with. They are assigned in value form to various foods and combinations of foods so you can make educated choices regarding how you will spend your daily allotment of points.

They are a learning tool so you can make choices about how much things "cost". Your points help guide your decisions about food. It's currency to be spent on a daily basis. So, what's the big deal about saving them all up?

Well, calories are not created equal. What you will get nutritionally from an apple is much different than a 1 point 100 calorie snack treat. And certainly the calories from either of those are different than what you would get from 2 ounces of chicken breast.

The worst part of the save mentality, is by going without we are choosing to shut down our metabolism. Less is not more in the battle of the bulge. And the bottom line is if we save up all our points to use on empty calorie, zero nutrition, items...we're making a clear choice about our progress.

If you've gotten really savvy about ways to save up your're not cheating the system. You haven't pulled one over, or tricked anyone. You're just racking 'em up for the big one!

Think about your points in terms of currency you get to spend rather than rewards you are saving up. Make good choices about how you spend that currency and the value of the choices you make regarding the nutritional profile. The reward will be yours!     

Friday, November 2, 2012

Checking Your Cans & Shoulds - Cocoa Pebbles

by Kris Pitcher

Recently my husband, who is heavily dieting, said to me, "I don't know why you're not eating Cocoa Pebbles." He said this with a straight face, out of the the evening.

I thought to myself - yeah, why aren't I eating Cocoa Pebbles?! My initial reply was, "I didn't have enough money for Cocoa Pebbles." Which was another funny husband story about the cost of groceries.

In an attempt to use cash for purchases he gave me money for groceries which basically amounted to what they would have cost in 1979. It's OK, we each have our contributions and shopping the groceries is mine.

As I thought about it a little more, I realized there are a lot of foods I just don't know about. Foods I just wouldn't consider because I've forgotten they exist. Chocoliscious bowls of cereal fall into that category.

Dieting, or rather eating clean, for so long will do that to you. Now, as I go down the aisles of the grocery store it's overwhelming and I leave with nothing instead of one of the 700 types of cereal. I'm not really supposed to eat cereal anyway!

Now that I could have a few "goodies" such as cereal...I don't even want it. Not only is it overwhelming to pick one, but it doesn't fit into my plan...or my life any more.

So, the real answer to why I'm not eating Cocoa Pebbles is because: I forgot they existed; I couldn't find them if I was looking for them on the aisle; and I don't really want to eat that.

His question wasn't quite so literal. In the bigger context he wondered - now that I have free reign, how is it, or why is it that I'm keeping my diet so clean? The answer there is twofold. First, he's dieting. I'm working to be supportive and control our home environment.

Secondly, this serves me. It allows me to maintain control over how gradually my weight returns. It's my way of managing my rebound. By not keeping that kind of stuff in the house, I have to make a conscious decision to go out and get something off plan. Or in addition to my plan.

And like a lot of things, just because you "can" doesn't mean you "should". It's about making the right choice because of the goals you want to reach. My Cocoa Pebbles choice will help me get to my goals.

This is where I ask you to check your "cans" and your "shoulds" to determine if your choices are taking you on the right path. The path is yours, it leads to your goals. Is it paved with Cocoa Pebbles?