Friday, January 31, 2014

HIIT or Steady State, Which Cult are You?

by Kris Pitcher

People are passionate, I'll give them that. The level of anger and taking sides over what kind of prep diet is "right" and what kind of cardio is "better" is verging on cultish.

Which camp am I in? I'm in the camp of least resistance. What I mean by that is, when I prep I want to begin with the least amount of work needed to elicit change. Period. It's pretty simple. Let's start with the cardio war.

HIIT or steady state? The answer, yes.There are studies to support both camps on this. But, I'm not camping, I'm prepping. Neither is in damnation here. It's about the path of least resistance. It's about having multiple "tools" in your tool box to create a progressive program.

If for instance I'm doing 30 minutes of steady state cardio and continue to get results from that, why would I change? It's when I hit a plateau that it's time to make a progression in my plan. There are numerous ways to do that. I could add more time, increasing the duration. The intensity could be increased. The modality could be changed.

Now, what if I simply did not have additional time in my schedule to add? So, my coach is now considering my "lifestyle". How considerate. I work a 10 hour day, commute an hour, need to lift, and there just isn't another 15 minutes in my day. No problem.

Maybe we start with increasing the intensity. Bingo! My body responds. This is the art of prepping. Progression. Down the road, I may hit another plateau. That might be the time to bring in some HIIT cardio and decrease my time. It's all about changing things up. It's not about damnation, or joining one cult or another.

The path of least resistance. The same goes with food. Oh my gosh. Clean eaters vs. flexible eaters. Really, there should be a reality show. Isn't it really the same thing? This whole thing confuses me to be honest.

I'm eating clean foods, whole foods, unprocessed foods. I have a list of "like" foods I can swap out. In fact, just yesterday, I didn't want to eat my rice...and I ate a corn tortilla instead! Isn't that both clean and flexible?

Do we really need to fight and get mad about this? There isn't one correct way. If a person has the interest in counting calories and is able to work with a group of like items, why not let them loose on swapping one lean protein for another?

On the other hand, if I'm just too busy, don't mind repetition and want to eat chicken and spinach for my meals away from home each day...why are you so mad? Isn't this about preference, lifestyle, and personal success?

If you hate eggs and your coach can't suggest an alternative, you might have someone feeding you a cookie cutter program without the ability to apply the science. You should have a list of items you can swap out. I don't expect you to know the nutritional science, that's why you hire someone, but you should have the tools provided so you can make the decisions.

So, I don't really get why every one's so mad. I don't understand why any coach would only have ONE way they feed or exercise EVERYONE. Doesn't that seem stupid? If every athlete is an individual, and responds differently wouldn't you want someone who had a whole box of tools...meaning a complete understanding of how to apply the science?

I sure would. All of the methods are OK. Everything works in certain ways for certain people depending on what they can tolerate, what they prefer, and what they respond to. And any great coach understands that. It's all about progression, and the path of least resistance.

My advice? Stop labeling, being so mad, or joining cults over these issues. Just do your work, get on stage, and support one another.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sisterhood of the Offseason Pants

by Kris Pitcher

While lots of competitors around me are trimming down, I'm still bulking. It's a strange thing to be on a different schedule. But like much of my life, I'm on my own path. My timeline is different.

So while people are posting about fitting into their size (insert little size), well I'm moving in the other direction. In the direction of the sisterhood of the offseason pants.

Now, I'm not ashamed of what size I am. I don't put any emotion into a number. If I'm an 8, I'm an 8. Fine. If by chance I'm a 10 so be it. Big deal. But the problem isn't even size related in this sisterhood.

When I went recently to try slacks on, I couldn't even get them over my thighs. At first I put my clothes back on and went back out to the rack for a larger size. That size didn't fit either. Nor the next one up. Hmm?

Coming to the realization I am simply not the same shape as the pants on the rack, I left with none. It wasn't necessarily a size problem, but a shape problem. My butt is in the wrong place, my thighs are too big for the pants...and they are all either too long, or way too short.

Most offseasons I come to this same conclusion (after this same exercise) I have to just put the pants away. It's time to move on to my dresses, my skirts, unstructured knits and anything with stretch fabric combinations.

I can't wear my suits, and I won't be able to get my upper body into any structured jacket. I've broken the mold. It doesn't fit me. Rather than being frustrated by it, I find what does work for my figure. Somehow, somewhere, approximately ten years ago I bought a pair of slacks I still wear.

They're grey, have some stretch to them, are boot cut, have a low waist and have room in them for my butt. Other than that I run toward my knits, and love my dresses. And for all of you in the sisterhood of offseason pants, I know you've stood in the dressing room in complete disbelief at what was happening.

Unite sisters! Grow! And I wish you luck as you find exactly what fits your amazing shape. It won't be until well into my prep that this body fits back into slacks. And that's just fine.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Fitness Results, Make Things Count

by Kris Pitcher

It's not quite February and there are still a few resolutioner's in the gym. But many of you have already become frustrated with working out. And the reason is, you're not seeing the results you may have expected.

I have a secret for you. You cannot out exercise your poor diet. Period. You can't undo the blow-out weekend you had watching football. The wine with the girls Thursday night did some damage. You skipped breakfast, didn't pack your lunch and picked up dinner on the way home.

Now, I give you credit for making it to the gym. Your efforts are valiant. But seriously, you need to put these two pieces together. Continuing to take one step forward and two steps back every week will leave you quitting once again.

So what are you to do? Clean things up that's what. Eat your meals, plan ahead, shop good clean food. Start your day with breakfast. Eat frequently throughout the day every two to three hours. Make sure you're getting plenty of lean protein, complex carbohydrates in moderation, and good fats.

Skip the sugar, the refined flour, things that are processed and save the alcohol for special occasions. Sound tough? It's not. Besides, wasn't it you who wanted to see changes? This is how it's done. Oh, and drink some water too.

I don't care if you're a super hero, you can't out run a crappy diet. This is one of the top frustrations for people trying to make change. They think that if they get their 30 minutes of cardio, or their group exercise class in...they can eat whatever they want.

Sorry, there's no tooth fairy either. But you know me, I tell it to you straight. Now put down the giant latte with extra whip and whip yourself into shape. Start making things count.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Your Prep Diet

by Kris Pitcher

As we near the end of January, either you've entirely quit your resolutions, or you're still at it. Lots of you are deep in the throws of prep, or other eating plans for one goal or another. And I've started to notice something.

There are two kinds of "dieters", and I'll use that term very loosely. There are the ones who just go about their business, eat what they are supposed to eat, and don't draw a lot of attention. They don't worry about what every one else is doing, eating, or thinking. Then there's the rest.

I can see the look in your eye as you watch the "normals" eat around you. The disgust, distaste, and anger rises in you until you almost can't stand it. Pretty soon you're emptying out the candy dish on the receptionist's desk, or throwing out the cookies in the break room.

Sound familiar? Guess what? It's you who's on a diet. Not the entire world. Pay attention to your own self. Worry about your own plan. Eat what you are supposed to eat. Know that, the rest of the world will have lots of other items not on your plan.

It will be all around you, it will surround you all the time. That's life. Reaching your goals isn't about "fairness". You can't eat cupcakes every week in the break room at work AND stand on stage competing. So let's just get some perspective here.

Your goals are yours. What you want is different from what 99% of the population want, or could do. Stay focused, that's your job. Clear your head, stop thinking about what you can't have and think about what fuels you.

Be an athlete. BE. Don't just do the things an athlete does. BE ONE. That means you stay focused every meal, every bite, every choice that crosses your path. This is your choice. Stop being resentful about it because every one around you hasn't made the same choice. Stop throwing away their stuff.

You are stronger than that. And if you're not, meditate on that. Find your inner strength because this is a long haul and it's going to get more difficult. Change your perception. Choose your attitude. Make this easier on yourself. Own your decision to BE an athlete. Now, join the others and quit judging what they're eating.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Gym Etiquette

by Kris Pitcher

I always like to provide a few tips on gym etiquette this time of year. As lots of new people are hitting the gym, and folks who might have taken some significant time might be time to revisit the rules of the road.

As a general rule, think common courtesy when you are at the gym. You're sharing a space with others, sharing equipment, and sharing a community. It's a busy community this time of year so let's review some basics.

  1. Leave your perfume and cologne at home. While we understand you want to smell nice, perfumes can be offensive while exercising, people may have allergies, asthma or breathing difficulties, migraines etc.
  2. This is not your basement gym. You must share equipment with others. Monopolizing equipment is frowned upon. Allow others to "work in" meaning, let them have a turn between your sets. Do not sit on equipment between sets.
  3. Wipe down equipment after use. No one wants to experience your sweat. Thank you anyway.
  4. Re-rack your weights. This means put them back on the rack or weight tree, in ascending order. Never leave them on a machine, or bar. Never.
  5. Do not spit in the drinking fountain. No explanation required.
  6. Do not gather up all the dumbbells, steps, a bench and the medicine ball in and around the squat rack to do your P90XCrossfit workout. You will get massive stink-eye. Do that workout at home.
  7. Ask the staff for help using the equipment. Staff are there for your safety. If you haven't been in the gym in the last year, get an appointment for an equipment orientation.
  8. The time limits on the cardio equipment DO relate to you. As do all rules. Rules of the gym assist in maintaining a community where common courtesy is displayed. This means you.
  9. Fit in and get to know the locals. Be observant, watch for patterns, get to know people, assimilate and enjoy your workout.    
A little common courtesy can go a long way in the gym. We want you to stick around, not stick out like a sore thumb. If you need help, ask. If you look like you're in trouble, consider taking a suggestion if one is offered. We'd hate to see you get hurt...or taken out back. Pack your bag, it's time to hit the gym!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Fitness Resolutions for the New Year

by Kris Pitcher

Happy New Year! Today's the day. Right? It's the day everyone is going to start getting healthy. It's the day we'll make better choices, start a plan, go to the gym. This is it, this will be the year! Who's excited?!!!

Good for you! Let's get going, why not? Well,'s Wednesday. No one starts on Wednesday. Besides, everything is closed. It's a holiday. Maybe you could start tomorrow?

But Thursday really begins the weekend, doesn't it? And you probably have plans to meet friends for a last ditch cocktail, or happy hour, or to watch the game. No, the weekend is not a good time to start. You'll start on Monday. Monday is good. It's a great time to get going. Monday it is!

And that's how people lose another entire year. Which is why I don't like resolutions. I don't "do" resolutions. If you want to do something, just do it. Sorry Nike. But really, just get to it. Get after it. Start right now.

Well, I mean finish this first, but then get started. There is no magic time to start. There won't be greater success if you begin on a Monday vs. a Wednesday. Go to the gym today. Guess what? They know you're coming.

Stock up on healthy foods so you can begin that eating plan. Get the junk out of the cupboards, and your trunk, so your goals will be supported by your environment. Plan ahead so you have meals at the ready and come Monday you are ready for a week of new habits.

Set yourself up for success by being organized and by putting plans into action now. Don't wait for the perfect time. Believe me, there is no perfect time to start. Start now. And guess what? Your new habits won't end.

What?! That's right, you only have to do weight management as long as you want it to work. So, get comfortable. You're in this for the long haul...not just until February. Start slow. There is no rush.

You've got plenty of time to incorporate your healthy new habits. You don't have to master all your fitness resolutions today. Take one at a time. Start moving. Begin drinking water. Take your meals to work or school.

All those things add up over time. Time. It takes time. So, like I said before, settle in. This is your new lifestyle. You're going to like it. As you begin to shed a few pounds, sleep better and have a clear'll see, you're going to like it. Join the masses but plan to make it through, beyond January this year.

Your fitness resolutions can begin now, no need to wait. Get started nice and easy, and before you know it, you'll be seeing changes that you like. What are you waiting for, get moving. This New Year is ON!