Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Optional During Prep

by Kris Pitcher

A low grade migraine flirted with me last week leaving me feeling fatigued and a little run down. Wednesday one of my coworkers came in my office and said, "Do you have to work out tonight?"

It got me thinking about things that are optional during prep. When you're training for something, something big, you're ALL IN. You're not just kinda doing it. I told her yes I would be working out, and it would likely set me right.

I spent most of that Friday in "cat therapy" with the cat on my lap in the recliner. That was after attending a very early morning fundraising breakfast in our city's convention the snow...with a low grade elevated temperature. But, I had already done my cardio at 4:30 am, just like any other day. Not. Optional.

When I'm standing on stage June 14th being judged amongst other very well deserving athletes, no one is going to care if I had a headache for 3 days. They won't care if it snowed the morning I had to go out on my day off with an elevated temperature to attend a breakfast (that I didn't eat).

There are things which are not optional. Like doing what you're supposed to do. This attitude is what drives certain people to compete at a higher level, or to compete at all. Those are the days I'm especially grateful for those around me who support what I'm doing.

Those are the days I'm glad I can let the sink fill with dishes and my husband will pitch in. I'm glad my workouts make me feel better and put my head in the right place. I'm grateful for the confidence people have in me to make it to the stage at a higher level.

Wearing a scarf is optional. Bothering to put my mascara on is optional. Deciding whether or not to put earrings on is optional. Packing all my meals, pushing my water and getting every workout in is not optional during prep.

Doing what you need to do to get to your goals isn't optional either. That's what's standing between you and successful completion of your goals. Those are the things separating you from reaching the level of success in your job, in your your life, you wish to reach.

Begin to question what is optional in your life. What things can you let go of, and what things must happen to get you to your goals? When people ask me things that seem so obvious, like if I am going to do my really stops me in my tracks. It's like asking if I'm going to breathe!

It makes me realize what we are doing is really different, it sets us apart, and it is not optional.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Give Yourself Some Credit!

by Kris Pitcher

We've had this conversation before. Generally. But, when I receive signs from the universe, I feel compelled to bring it up again. And again.

You are you. You're only you. You aren't anyone else. Trying to be someone else doesn't work. One of my favorite sayings is, "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken."

To your credit, we are bombarded (Incoming!) with messages telling us to be someone else. Ignore those messages. Ignore media telling you to be blond, or tall, or young, or old, or red headed...or lying on a fur rug drinking scotch...or what ever.

We look at social media where everyone is captured at the exact moment when they look their very best. You don't see me with my profile picture of my crazy hair, no make-up, glasses and pajamas on. You see me the way I want you to see me, at my very best.

And we have all been tricked. Tricked into thinking we need to look like something else, BE something else. When all we really need to be is ourselves.

We don't get to be someone else. We haven't done the work to earn our MBA like Ms. High Achievement over there. We haven't grown our bangs to have that long sweeping hair that sexy so-and-so has. So what!

You are you. You have that. Be you. Do the work you need to do to be the you you want to be. Untangle that. If we put the energy, half the energy, we spend wanting to be other people just working on ourselves...we'd be the person we want to become.

Comparing ourselves to others doesn't even make sense. Does it make sense to have role models? Of course it does! Should we look up to people? Absolutely. Can we incorporate the good qualities those people have into our lives? Yes we can.

But can we BE those people? No, we can't. It wouldn't make sense to, they're already taken. The thing is, you have qualities people look up to. You have things about you people admire. Figure out what those things are and acknowledge and celebrate them. Give yourself some credit!

Don't be fooled into thinking you should be anything but you. Pay attention to the right things, figure out what it is about you that makes you unique and BE you. You'll be surprised how great you are!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Choco Meat

by Kris Pitcher

I looked across the table at my husband and thought he was eating ground beef. He was eating a bowl of rice cereal (chocolate flavored). Choco-meat.

We see the world from our own perspective. I pretty much only eat meat...I saw meat. It's important as a competitor, or a successful person managing weight, to be able to see things as others see them.

Balancing our own perspective with "what everyone else is doing" is difficult. I was recently talking with a self-proclaimed "awkward" teenager. He was explaining to me that in certain classes he could "be weird" and in others he knew he couldn't.

I thought his acknowledgement of when it was appropriate, and appreciated, to be more creative and when he needed to hold back was remarkable for his age. We talked about the importance of that appropriate expression.

It's kind of the same with our perspective around diet and exercising, and certainly about competing. Most times, less is way more in any social situation. People aren't really interested in why you're eating chicken out of a container from your purse.

A simple, "I'm on a special eating plan." is fine. A big explanation isn't necessary and will put your listener into a coma. They. Don't. Care. We care. But it's from our perspective. We need to be able to see the world from other people's perspective and not push what we're doing on them.

It seems strange not to gush all the time about something you LOVE. But it's like the awkward teenager, not always appropriate or appreciated. You come across as trying to be better than others because you exercise all the time. Or, your suggestions about eating fall on deaf ears in the break room because people don't really want to make changes.

Save your breath. Be a little more low profile. What we do is really hyper focused, it has to be. There is a time and place to gush about it. Know the difference. Remember there may be another perspective. Know that not everyone is sitting around eating choco-meat.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

FOUR Pounds Heavier! What?!

by Kris Pitcher

Feeling unfocused and a little down I was having trouble staying on task at work. By Wednesday of last week I was up 4 pounds from my Sunday low. FOUR pounds! Having done everything right with my food and exercise, I left my husband a note suggesting possible solutions:
  1. I am pregnant
  2. Someone dumped 6,500 mg of sodium into my last meal
  3. I gained 4 pounds of muscle in 3 days
  4. I'M FAAATTT!!!
With a low grade migraine coming on I popped some narcotics and drank my water. I stayed on track with every single meal. I kept the water coming in like it was my job. I stayed off the scale. I felt bloaty...and stabby.

Sure enough, by Saturday Aunt Flo was visiting. (That's code for menstruation.) The thing is, this could have gone real bad, real fast.

It happens to the ladies in this group with precision. Yet, every month it sneaks up on us. The signs are slapping us in the face and we can't see them. We get derailed and begin to sabotage. What comes to mind?

The worst. We think we've done something wrong. Then what? We fulfill that prophecy and eat a BUNCH of garbage. If we would have just waited it out and done what we were supposed to do, we would be right back where we should be in a few days.

Things fluctuate. You're going to get your period. With that, you might be constipated, bloated, have a headache, feel name it. Know what comes with it - it's your period. But know what doesn't come with it.

Self deprecating punishment for something which hasn't happened. I didn't gain four pounds of fat. I was doing everything right, exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I hadn't done anything wrong, or off plan.

I never naturally go to that place, but I know many are drawn right there and before you know it, you're up to your elbows in an empty container of Ben & Jerry's. Be confident in your plan, be confident you are doing all the right things and those things will work. Trust in yourself and trust in your plan.

And by all means, always have some lady gear in your purse! Because for some reason, you can be in your forties and that crap sneaks up on you!

Monday, February 18, 2013


by Kris Pitcher

I was sitting on the toilet first thing one morning trying to put on my sports bra and shorts...and it dawned on me. You cannot truly multi-task. It isn't possible.

You're either doing one thing, or you're doing another. You're not really doing both. I couldn't pee and put my bra on. TMI? Sorry, but you see my point?

To my credit, 4:30 a.m. is an early, and confusing, time. It just makes sense to empty your bladder and get your workout clothes on at the same time. Doesn't it?

Anyway, it got me thinking about our true capabilities to multi-task. We really think we're doing two things at once. We aren't. We're texting, and nodding our head. But we're not hearing the person who's talking to us.

Teenagers are a good example of this. They only do one thing at a time...if anything. It's all they can focus on. We should take a lesson. The point is the focus.

When we focus on one thing. We are doing only that one thing. Trying to do several things at once dilutes each of those things and none of them get accomplished with much efficiency or proficiency.

We'd all save ourselves a lot of time if we'd just complete one task, and then move on to the next task. As I found becoming tangled in my sports bra. Finish one thing...and move on to the next thing.

I notice this when I'm "cleaning" the house. I get all distracted by picking things up and putting them away. Pretty soon I'm working on another project in another room and I'm wondering, "How'd I even get in here?!" I was cleaning in the kitchen?

We need to focus on one room...then move to the next. Complete one task. See? We can't truly do multiple things at one time. Not really. We've fooled ourselves into thinking we can.

This brings me to one of my exercise pet peeves. When you have general fitness goals, "multi-tasking" is fine. But when you have anything specific you are trying to accomplish, you need to be doing specific things to get to that goal. (Psst: It's called specificity.)

You can't take a body pump class to build muscle and get on stage as a competitor. Just an example, take no offense. Those classes are built around endurance, high repetition, and low weight designed to recruit a certain muscle fiber type. This kind of recruitment will make you look a certain way.

That type of multi-tasking is for the general fitness person looking to build their cardio capacity and muscular endurance. There's nothing wrong with that, when that is your goal.

Think about how your workouts are designed and if you're trying to work in a lot of multi-tasking when you should be doing more specific things. Depending on your goals, this means a little more time in the gym. You've got to break out your cardio, and your lifting. For example.

The benefit when we focus is faster results. I can pee faster if I just pee. And I can put my bra on faster if I just put on my bra. Focus for faster results and take a look at how you're doing with multi-tasking in your life. I think we'll all get more done!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Your Workout MO

by Kris Pitcher

I see people in the gym who never actually "do" anything. They sit on one machine after another having conversations and I swear...they aren't working out? So, I'm wondering what's your workout MO. Hide, survive, or thrive?

The hiders skirt the edges and hope no one notices they aren't really doing anything. That's the guy who seems to drink a lot of water but never really gets a set in. Or, in all fairness...they don't even make it to the gym.

Hiders plan to go to the gym. Maybe they even have a "home gym" - the worst kind. Eventually, you can't hide from results. If nothing is're a hider. Believe it or not, there are competitors who are hiders.

You don't see them make it to the stage very often. When they do, there's no more hiding. You either did the work or you didn't. No skirting that. Sorry hiders, you're not fooling anyone.

What about the survivors? Survivors get by, but with resistance along the way. In fact, they resist each step of the way. They may have a few ups and downs and eventually they, well, "survive".

The survivor will cheat, they will lie, they will even pretend a little bit. In the end, they'll make it and make it successfully. Survivors, it doesn't have to be that hard! Or that dramatic...

Finally, we've got those who thrive. These are the folks with the right mind set, drive and follow through to get to their goals. Thrivers do it with purpose, without any funny business. They just get the work done. Thrivers are successful!

So, what's your modem of operation as you approach your workouts? You can be honest. And there might be times when you thrive and others when you hide. For me, it always comes down to a connection with my priorities.

When you are strongly connected to what is important to you, it's easy to do it. If you are wishy-washy about can believe you're going to be a "hider". If you've been less than thriving lately, get reconnected. Your workout MO is counting on you!  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Every Day is Valentine's Day

by Kris Pitcher

Every kiss does not begin with Kay. I don't know who this "Leo" is...but the fleecing of America has women in a frenzy.

I don't need a Chocolate diamond, or the Open Heart pendant. Don't get me charmed this or remembrance that. I'm not expecting the Tilted Heart, or Love's Embrace... Please don't build me a bracelet with $40 beads depicting who I am.

Please don't present me with a giant stuffed animal, a heart filled box of candy, cheap lingerie or over priced flowers. Waiting for a holiday to express you love isn't necessary.

Don't book a table at restaurant where we'll get mediocre service and a larger than life bill. It's not necessary to create a memory "experience" with some outlandish thing.

The thing is, if you love someone...just tell them. Tell them on Tuesday...when they aren't expecting it. Or let them know by taking care of your responsibilities. Get them flowers in June.

Be spontaneous. Valentine's Day is prescripted, and overrated. It's pressured and fake. It's pink and fluffy. It's sugary and cream filled. It's messages on candied hearts. Will you be mine?

I appreciate the every day gestures my husband makes. He stops to kiss me. He hugs me while I'm washing dishes. He tells me he loves me. (He tells me stuff I won't print for you *winky face.)

We don't wait for one day a year to cultivate our relationship. There isn't one special time to warrant being close...that happens naturally. And I hope you're doing things to make it happen more naturally for your relationship too.

Ultimately, we've made our lives about life rather than about stuff. This is how experience is created, memories. This is how we've chosen to cultivate closeness in our relationship. This is how every day becomes Valentine's Day. It has nothing to do with Kay. I hope you get more than the wrapped in love, or be brilliant diamond this year. I hope you get that every day is a celebration. Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Are You Coming?

by Kris Pitcher

There are a few things I do know. I know that as you take steps to make dreams is exciting. I also know pushing yourself takes internal strength, but it also takes a team.

When you have big goals you don't get there alone. What I know from experience is if you don't ask, people can't say yes.

So, I'm launching a campaign. It's a campaign to invite people to take a leap of faith in me, and with me as I make my way to the National stage to compete in June at the NPC Jr. Nationals.

Let's GO!
I'm not a 501-C3, there is no tax deduction...your support isn't charitable. But it is a way to participate in a process, a journey, that you might not take on your own. And one I am willing to ask for help in taking.

It's getting real. Very real. At 18 weeks out from competition I am doing research, creating a budget and making plans. The competition will take place on June 14th and 15th in Chicago. Yes, I am excited!

I am also excited about where I am in my prep. I will absolutely be my best ever. I've progressed over where I was last year, and the process is rewarding. There is still work to be done. My alarm reminds me of that each morning at 4:30 a.m. as I rise to do my cardio.

My commitment is unwavering, and that's why I'm not shy about inviting you, and others, to support me in this process. I don't have a sad story. I'm not a single mother working several jobs with a bus load of kids. There is no guaranteed outcome.

I am a 43 year old figure competitor working toward my goals, and living out my dreams. It's all mapped out, the plan, the calendar...reinforced each time I look at the refrigerator. I'm the person with my act together enough to make this happen.

Now I invite you to come along with me by supporting the process. I'm going with or without you, all I'm asking is you consider...taking a leap of faith!    

Friday, February 8, 2013

Aging Is An Attitude

by Kris Pitcher

It happens every year. It will happen to you, and it's going to happen to me soon. Birthdays! Some people love having birthdays and some people fight it every step of the way.

Aging is an attitude. I look forward to a few more grey hairs so my hair is lighter. I pay a lot of money for that! Life is all in how you look at it. What's your attitude about aging?

My contest prep progresses each year and I get better. I get smarter. What's not to love about that? Each year I learn more about my body, how it responds, and what works. It's a process of refining.

Looking forward to the next year, and the year after that is just part of the attitude. There's nothing to shy away from about it...not yet anyway. I hear people say, "Oh, to be 25 again!"

Well, no thank you! Even knowing what I know now, I wouldn't want to go back. You can't reset the course of your life. You've taken the course you've taken. That's how you've arrived where you are!

You take your mistakes, the things you've actually done right (both of them) and you look to your future. This is where the anticipation comes, the attitude there's something to look forward to as you age.

I'll spend this birthday celebrating quietly...there will be no fan fare, no cake, no party or special meal. It will be leg day, we'll probably see Jacques' clients, do some posing practice and enjoy what we do.

Maybe I'll wear my tiara! We'll see, after all aging is an attitude and I've got plenty! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Zero Calorie and Calorie Free

by Kris Pitcher

Did you know there's a new math in town? We can call something zero calorie if it has less than 5 calories per serving. Less than 5...

But less than 5 can be 4 calories per serving and be called zero. Four isn't zero, last time I checked. There's a whole lot of us out there who've got our heads in the sand on this one. You've been fleeced.

sweetened with Truvia
All this "zero" calorie stuff we're consuming has a cumulative effect, and it isn't ZERO! Remember when I gave up my sugarless gum? Well, I did. And part of the reason I did that was because sugarless gum is not calorie neutral. It has calories, 5 per slice. So, if I've got a 20 piece a day habit how many calories is that?

You're right, it's 100 calories. In a week I'm doing 700 calories of damage with my sugarless gum. Now we have zero calorie drinks and things which help us feel like we aren't dieting. If we truly are dieting, those zeros are adding up.

Nothing times nothing is still nothing. But the makers of these products squeeze 3 or 4 calories in that serving so it tastes good and you'll eat it, or drink it. All those 3's and 4's are the problem. The new math.

And that's the problem with this zero calorie business. These products contain sugar alcohols...which is a derivative of sugar, to make the product taste good - and it has a value. Add up all your 3's and 4's and you may have a problem.

So, depending on your goal maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe these items are tools to help you manage eating in a new way. Fine. Now you know they aren't really zero, they're just less than 5 calories.

If your goal however is sport specific, physique competition etc. you can look at it in a much different way. That 700 calories over a 16 week prep is 11,200 calories, or 3.2 pounds. Not so "zero" is it?

The choice about eliminating artificially sweetened "nothing" is one of personal value. It's up to you. Some people need their crystal light and gum or they would absolutely DIE. We don't want anyone to die.

I'm not suggesting crystal light says it has no calories, but we think of it as a "free" item. My suggestion is to consider the impact of zero on your progress over the long term. Make your decisions with an informed perspective. Know your math!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ketosis Breath!

by Kris Pitcher

I've been on the giving end of a lot of conversations which began with, "Can I tell you something that might be difficult for you to hear?" This conversation did not begin like that.

"Your breath has been getting progressively worse." He said. Yes, my jaw dropped and I felt like I was standing naked right there in the weight room where this news was broken to me. Naked!

It happened to be a Monday night, the busiest night in the history of gym goers. Close quarters. Bad news...bad breath!

Now, I take my oral hygiene VERY seriously. I am an avid flosser, brush regularly and get good check ups at the dentist at the appropriate intervals. I scrape my tongue with that plastic thing...use pre-brush rinse to dislodge extra plaque. This was bad news.

"But at least we know you're in ketosis..." He pedaled...backward. Oh my GAWD! I wondered what I was going to do about this! I used to work with a lady who ate horribly. But to her credit, she never ate any carbs...her ketosis breath could fill the entire office. I'M THAT STANK BREATH LADY!!!

When you eat less than 50 grams of carbs daily, you're considered to be on a low carb diet. The idea is to get your body to use fat for fuel. Your body produces ketones in the process of converting that fat, and as excessive ketones build up...up comes the bad breath.

He didn't want to tell me. Umm, you need to tell me. If you don't tell me, who's going to tell me? I can't smell it. Now I'm afraid to speak, or breathe near anyone. My lips are sealed! I'm holding my breath right now!

What can you do? Well, some would suggest mints or gum. But I'm on a no artificial sweetener prep by choice. So, if you don't mind some sugar alcohols, by all means get some gum. Next up, drink your water.

Dry mouth can be associated with this and the water not only helps to flush the build up of ketones, but also keeps the bacteria in your mouth low by keeping it moist. You can use mouthwash. But stay away from alcohol based washes...alcohol dries the mouth and that gets you right where you started.

Chewing fresh parsley sprigs helps. The oils in the plant are a natural neutralizer. I'm chewing parsley following my meals and as needed. Fennel seeds are also a good natural deodorizer. Believe me, I don't care if I have seeds or parsley in my teeth if it helps my breath.

You can also use peppermint oil, sparingly. Essential oil can be ingested and is used in natural gums, but you don't want to be downing lots of it. A drop on the tongue will freshen your breath.

These things along with really good oral hygiene will help to keep your ketosis breath in check. One recommendation from the "experts" is to add more carbs to your, that just won't work! Here's to hoping this gets better, because I'm in if for the long haul! 


Friday, February 1, 2013

Superbowl Menu, Slim Down!

by Kris Pitcher

Ready for Superbowl Sunday?! Game day is right around the corner and you need to get your menu in check. I've got the perfect slim down menu in store!

If you know know I didn't even know there was a game. You know I don't know who's playing, or where, or what channel it's on...or what time it starts. And to tell you the truth, a lot of people don't. They just know they're going to eat and drink!

This might be my annual giant bait and switch but here's what I'm going to do on Sunday. Sunday is leg day. It's also a day when I'll see some of my husband's local clients, maybe do some posing practice.

I'll pack all of my meals so I know I have exactly what I need with me regardless of where I am. See, between these activities, I'll need to shop groceries. It will be nice because everyone will be watching the game.

Following the morning and afternoon activities and responsibilities we'll head home where I'll do food prep for the week and catch up on the laundry I've been cycling through the machines all weekend.

That will be my Superbowl Sunday slim down day. It will be like every other day. And that's exactly what I suggest for your menu. Plan to eat what you usually eat. Likewise, if alcohol isn't on your diet plan (and I'd be surprised if it were) don't drink. This is just another day. A long day.

Take your meals to the party. Or, if you must eat at the party follow the cardinal rules (The Cardinals aren't playing are they?): eat off the meat platter, skip the cheese, no dips, eat veggies, skip the chips/crackers/cookies etc...steer clear of the buffet table all together. It's a gathering place, but you don't have to gather there.

Drink water, or seltzer with lime. No one cares if you're drinking...we're grown ups. If you're at that kind of party, you're at the wrong party. Put a piece of sugarless gum in your mouth and carry your water bottle. It's hard to juggle a plate, your water and eat too.

Be smart, remember why you're watch a game. Football, right? Get your cardio done in the morning, don't skip your meals, and stop looking for an excuse to go off plan. Keep your focus and your goals in mind. It'll be a touch down of a day for you if you do it right!