Monday, September 28, 2015

Bulking, a Big Fat Lie

by Kris Pitcher

Every now and then I'm smacked in the face by my own palm at the dumbing down of this sport. It's really about applying concepts with broad strokes, to everyone...because it worked for you. That's not how you apply science.

I hear a lot of competitors, or potential competitors say, "My coach says I have to do a bulking phase before I can start prep." And for a moment...I am speechless.

Does the first time bikini competitor need to gain more muscle to create better shape? Probably. Does she need to put off her prep to bulk? Not in my opinion. Here's what I think about bulking. Keep in mind I (almost) never worry about my popularity.

Here's the thing, women, in general, put on muscle very slowly. Any beginner is going to put muscle on more quickly, and some just have better genetics than others and are going to gain faster. Do we need to fuel for that? Of course.

Adequate fueling is important for growing. Eating 3,000 calories however will most likely just make you fat. Fat isn't "bulking", it's getting fat. A "bulking" phase of several weeks or months is a method used by men who are supplementing with the perfect drug profile for that same period.

The supplementation assists in utilizing the large quantities of food, metabolizing all that fuel and putting it to use. Let's assume that is not the situation for most of us. Most are not supplementing (anabolically) to assist in "bulking".

So, here's a case where a method used widely in male bodybuilding is being associated to women, and it's ineffective. It's ineffective because you don't need to get so fat off season, or in your "bulking" season.

If you look at athletes who compete at high levels off season, they don't bulk to an additional 20+ pounds. They stay within 10-12 pounds of their competition weight...AND make gains. The key is adequate fuel and rest to grow. It takes time.

I'm usually growing into my contest. Meaning, I'm able to keep my calories high enough to continue to make progress. Why? Because I didn't get so fat off season that I have to diet hard. You're fooling yourself if you think you need to gain 20 pounds to bulk, and those gains are muscle.

And why aren't you making progress, gains, through your prep? Because you got so fat off season bulking that you have to diet into a deficit and can barely sustain the muscle you have. And this is why bulking is a big fat lie.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Macro Math, Fitting it in Your Prep Plan

by Kris Pitcher

Recently I saw a social media post about "new math" and it's no wonder everyone is so confused about counting their "macros". Today we are going to have a nutritional math tutorial. But before we can move forward, let's step back.

I'll preface this conversation by saying, I don't care by what method you eat. I have zero skin in your game. I eat a clean flexible plan. I also don't care what kind of sex you have and with whom. Nor do I care what religion you are, or what you watch on TV. Don't care. Not my concern.

If you want to fit things into your plan, fit them in. But you're going to have to understand some VERY basic nutritional information, and simple math in order to do it effectively, and to not be frustrated about it.

The basics. Macro nutrients are the major nutrients which make up the majority of your fuel. Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and you may not have known...water is also considered a macro nutrient. Now, (are you taking notes?) each macro nutrient has a caloric value. Values are assigned per gram.

Carbohydrates = 4 cals/gm
Proteins = 4 cals/gm
Fats = 9 cals/gm

And as you can imagine, water has zero calories. Zero. And what are micro nutrients? Vitamins and minerals. Micro nutrients make up, conversely, the smaller portion of your nutrient profile. They also don't have a caloric impact. That's another conversation.

Each macro nutrient plays a different role in our body, what it does, and that also is a different conversation. We're talking about math.The first step is to determine what percentage of each nutrient you want to consume. In total, your percentages need to equal 100.

How you decide is going to be based on what your goals are. Again, I don't care. 40% + 30% + 30% = 100% for example.

Once you know your percentage split, you also need to know how many total calories you want to take in. LOTS of ways to figure this out, and this is where a coach is going to throw the science of this into your plan. Let's say, for example, you are going to eat 2,500 calories.

40% of 2,500 = ? To find 40 percent of 2,500 what are we going to do? Phone a friend? No. We are going to multiply 2,500 by .4

Come back! You can do this! 2,500 X .4 = 1,000

Now, what we've determined is 1,000 calories is 40% of our 2,500 calorie daily total. For our example we will say we've chosen protein to be our 40%.

How many grams of protein do we need in the day? STAY WITH ME! We said protein is 4 cals/gm.

1,000 divided by 4 = 250 grams. We'll eat 250 grams of protein. Next, we should divide that up by how many meals we plan to eat during the day - that would be smart for meal timing. Or you can eat it all at once...

Let's say we are going to eat 6 meals. 250/6 = 41.6 So, we need about 42 grams per meal. You just figured out the first of your "macros" - your macro nutrient, protein. Congratulations! Now, we do that for carbohydrate and fat.

It's nutritional math. 2,500 X .3 = 750 (30% fat and carbohydrate is 750 calories, each, of our 2,500 total.)

750 calories of carbohydrate? 750/4 (4 calories/gm) = 187.5 grams. Split that between 6 meals, and you want about 31 gms per meal. Or maybe you want carbs with 3 of your your math.

750 calories of fat? 750/9 (9 calories/gm) = 83 grams of fat. Do what you want with it.

In order to figure out if something fits, you need to be able to determine if the calories fit into the percentages you have chosen. Knowing your breakdown for the day enables you to pick nutrients from each "bank" during the day.

The challenge is, most people empty out their bank of one nutrient, and have a balance of another at the end of the day. This is poor planning. You still have to do your math, and some planning. It's simple multiplication, division, addition and subtraction.

The hard part is manipulating the percentages based on the outcome you want - knowing what each nutrient can do for you. This is science. But the math is simple. And, you CAN do it. You need to do it if you want to successfully eat this way.

The alternative is being caught off guard having made choices early in the day and consuming all your calories, or all of your nutrients from one category. It's tough when you've eaten all your daily allotment by 3:00pm.

Being aware of nutrient timing, and your math, will help you be successful with this way of eating. One of the benefits of my clean flexible plan? I don't do any math. Pick a protein from this list, a carbohydrate from that list, eat some veggies...and check! It's my preference. It's easy. I know I'll get all of my nutrients, at the right time during the day, and at the end of the day I'm done.

But you do it however you want. And I hope practicing some simple math will make it less frustrating for you. Get your nutrients in!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cheating on Your Diet? Bite on This!

by Kris Pitcher

I know for sure you cannot out cardio poor eating. This is evidenced by every single person you see in the gym. They workout week in, week out...yet in all the years you've seen them in your gym they've made zero progress.

Why? Because the eat whatever they see. Doing 30 minutes of cardio won't undo that bottle of wine you had with dinner, or the basket of bread, or any of the other poor food choices. In order to make the kind of progress you need to make for significant weight loss, weight management, OR contest need to be in control.

Sometimes people will confess to a "binge" or indulgence and wonder if they can do more cardio (to make up for it). No. You can't. Your choice will set you back, but you can't undo it with an extra hour of cardio. It doesn't work that way.

When people wonder why you can't just have "one bite", this is why - every bite compounds. Nutrition is like interest in this way (saving money is another of my hobbies). One dollar isn't much of a big deal by itself. But when you leave it alone and let it compound over years...that baby will GROW!

One bite is a small thing, but every small bite adds up to something big. Your butt! Seriously, you have to keep your head straight around this. Everything matters. When I start prep, the first thing I do is cut out all the extra bites.

Last season, I lost 5 pounds just cutting out the "bites". Nothing significant. But in a week...5 pounds. Every bite matters in the big picture. So what if you find yourself in a weak moment? A dark, sad moment when you are about to make some serious damage to your progress by eating something off plan.

If you RECOGNIZE that moment, you've won. Now you make a choice. Your first line of defense is to always control your environment. Meaning, pack your meals and have them with you; shop what you CAN eat, not what you can't; and control your stress.

Cheating then requires planning. There's no accidental trip to the grocery store for a pint of ice cream. You didn't accidentally go through the drive through. You PLANNED to cheat. Which means you thought it out, and went to get your supplies, hid in your car/living room/garage etc. and you made a choice.

If you struggle in the evening, brush your teeth. Paint your nails. Do your house work. Lean to knit. Keep your hands busy. If you have food/snacks/treats in the house (for other people) put them on a special shelf in the cabinet - that is not your shelf.

Phone a friend. Call your coach. Ask for help BEFORE you pile that pizza in your mouth. There is no making up for what you're about to do. And every bite counts. If you think, "Oh, I'll make up for it later, tighten things up, eat more fish, do more cardio." you don't get it and it will show on stage. You won't be ready.

There is no "later", there is only right now. Having the personal strength to stay on track is hard. The world goes on all around you - there is no reason for it to stop. Your goals are different. Wanting to compete is something you have to REALLY, really want.

You can't just kind of like the idea of competing. You can't just want to prep during the week, or when it's easy. It's all the time. In order to make it to the stage, you must want it more than any of that stuff. You must want it deep in your core. You have to want it more than any bite.

And when you feel your resolve slip just the slightest bit, get connected with just how bad you want it. No one is asking this of you. You choose it. And only you can do it. Bite on that.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Rebound or Exit Plan, Your Choice

by Kris Pitcher

Remember that time you went home from that party a little too drunk with what's-his-name? You woke up at his place unsure of exactly how you got there, and you wondered where your car was. Hair stuck to your face, and the taste of vodka and vomit in your mouth? Were you smoking? Oh gawd...where are your clothes? You look over at him and can't be sure of his name. Are those tattoos, on his neck?

Insert "Walk of Shame"
Welcome to your rebound. I've seen your candy stashes, your posts of the new Oreo flavors, and your countdown until you can have donuts. You have sugar-eyes. Five weeks out and your shopping cart is FULL of high fructose corn syrup.

Let me share something with are not going to handle yourself well following your show. You might as well be waking up next to Mr. Tattoo Neck.

And apparently no one is talking with you about your exit plan. You're planning the rebound of a lifetime and you don't even know it. The biggest mistake is, you are paying attention to the wrong things right now.

When people ask me what I want to eat after my contest I have a hard time answering. I'm not even thinking about that. What I know from experience is, I want club soda. Period. I don't have a list, or a stash of anything. I don't bring cupcakes, and bags of candy back stage. I see "after" completely different. I have an exit plan.

Our bodies are primed to soak up everything we put into them following our contest. After being at our most depleted stage - it wants fuel. My goal is to give it fuel. GOOD fuel. I'm primed to grow. So why wouldn't I take full advantage of this anabolic opportunity and fuel my body with good clean food.

My coach provides me with an exit plan before I step on stage. I know exactly what I'll eat that Sunday and in the following weeks. I know when I'll return to the gym. I'm already thinking about what I want to improve, change, grow for NEXT season.

I want my body to soak up good carbs, to get the protein it needs, to replenish its healthy fats, and to GROW! That doesn't happen on Oreos or the rest of the sugar stash you have. And that is the difference between athletes who progress in this sport.

Focusing on what you "can" have, on what fuels you vs. what you can't have - the things that don't fit into this lifestyle, positions you to be in control. To continue in this sport you have to embrace the lifestyle. That means eating good food year round.

My exit plan does include extras. That is part of the plan. The strength in what I'll bring to the stage next year begins with what I do when I walk off stage. It begins with my choice to follow my exit plan, and NOT rebound gaining 30 pounds eating a cart full of sugar.

All of those goodies will be there when you are done with your show. You can fit some of them in your off season plan. A strong exit plan will keep your head in check along the way. You will welcome the continued structure. Your body will thank you for the nutrients, and you might even make the gains you are looking for.

Skip the downward mental spiral, skip the depression, skip the edema, skip the kankles, skip the hangover, skip gaining 15 pounds in 3 days. Skip all of the elements of the perfect rebound.

Your future progress is counting on you...the choice is yours. Will you rebound, or exit successfully?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Contest Prep, Are You Prepared to Lose?

By Kris Pitcher

If you've ever witnessed the smile drain from someones face when an outcome did not turn out in their favor, or felt the tears well in your own've stood on the edge of defeat. As your throat begins to tighten, your lip quivers... your brain says, "RUN!" - you realize something has gone awry.

Most of us can recount the times in our lives we've felt this way. That time we forgot our lines in the grade school play, or when that horrible college break up took us by surprise. Or when we...lost (fill in the blank).

Me losing Overall to my team mate.
Here's the thing about competing, five competitors will place. Only one will earn 1st place, and lots will go home with nothing. We all train to win. Every one of us wants the first call out. If we didn't, we wouldn't be eating this chicken. Again.

But no one guarantees you a placing. Everyone is working really hard, maybe harder than you. We never know who will show up on contest day. And if we are only competing for a placing, we might need to rethink this hobby. It is a hobby.

I will speak for myself - which by default of writing this blog, you should all associate directly to yourselves (insert smile*).

I put a lot on the line when I step on stage. Opening myself up for objective judgement by a panel of people is a risk. Some who like me, my physique, some who do not (as evidenced by their placing/scoring). I am willing to do this, because it is part of the sport. It's how you progress forward, garner feedback, and get better. This is how our sport works.

I can only do that because I bring with me a sense of humility, and respect for the sport, for the officials and the process. I believe in it. I am an athlete. As such, I also carry with me a sense of honor regardless of my placing.

What does that mean? I never go into a show thinking I'm going to win. I don't think I'm going to show up and blow everyone away. I don't shout out on social media leading up to a show how much I'm going to "kill it". I show up with my best package and let the rest happen. I'm humble, and realistic.

I've also stood in the line up and received the LAST call out on more than one occasion. Does the smile drain from my face? No. Do I drop my shoulders in defeat? Never. Do I look at the floor once my number is called and I walk to the line? Not a chance. Do I present myself as if I received the FIRST call out. Absolutely.

In those moments, I knew I'd lost. It was over. It was over after the first call out. Yet I stood there, through the second call out, then the third, and then finally...You get the picture. I stood there as a proud athlete, knowing I'd brought my very best, and it was not my day.

Did I storm off the stage? No. Did I curse out the judges? Of course not. Did I bad mouth the competitors who beat me? No. Did I blame my coach...No.

My point is, when you choose to be a physique athlete you need to accept the objective process with grace. Whether you are first place, or last place, you are a gracious athlete.

When you win, you don't pump your fists and say, "Bo-Ya Bitches!" to the girls who lost. You hug, shake hands, congratulate them, you thank the athletes for bringing such strong competition. Be. Gracious.

Never for one moment when you are on stage let your smile drain from your face. Never for one second, let your posture show defeat. Don't for one minute think you are the *hit and you're going to dominate. Step on stage with humility and let your physique be rewarded.

Take your status as an athlete seriously and show that in your sportsmanship on and off stage. Show it leading up to, and after your show. Not everyone wins, and even winning can feel bitter sweet. The way you see that, and how you are prepared to handle that sets you up for your future success.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Competitors Alone Together

by Kris Pitcher

This can be a lonely sport. At 5:00 am when I get up to do my cardio, I feel alone. No one's with me when I pull my chicken out of my purse at the restaurant, or during a meeting either. It's just me.

No one makes sure I go to the gym to get my lifts in, or makes sure I pack my meals. Also all on me. Now, don't get me wrong, I have support. BUT there's a reason you feel a little bit like you're on your own. You are. This is an individual sport.

You might have found your local community, you might have friends, you might be on a team with fellow competitors. But you are the only one doing this. Day in and day out until you turn up for your show, and all of a sudden you realize...I am NOT the only one!

That's right. There are LOTS of people getting ready. For your show, for shows around the same time, all across the country. One of the things that keeps me motivated is thinking about what those other competitors might be doing.

Do I want to give up any advantage to someone I'll be standing next to? Not even. At 5:00 am I am not alone. My competition is also up, she's also doing her cardio. And I think about that. On the day I don't want to go to the gym to lift...I know she's at her gym.

"She" is an imaginary competitor. Mark my words, she IS out there. So on those days you feel alone, think about just how big this quiet sport is. You might not see other competitors in your community, at your gym, or in your town, but they are out there - and they are getting ready.

Feeling alone in this is normal, use it to your advantage rather than whining about it. When you feel like others around you don't understand, don't sweat it. They don't have to understand. Know there are competitors everywhere going through the same thing. Get perspective, and don't wallow in "alone".

Embrace the individualization of this sport, focus on it, and let it drive you. You are the only one doing this for you. You are alone. Embrace it within the context of something much larger. We're alone together.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Getting to the Stage, What Does it Cost?

by Kris Pitcher

People are often surprised about the cost to compete. There are some really basic things you need to plan for, things that shouldn't be a surprise, and then there are things you can just plain do without. Some people don't really want to know. They kind of take the "head in the sand approach", but as far as hobbies could be worse.

The fundamentals would include a gym membership. You could argue you don't need this. That's up to you. If you have a house full of equipment, good for you. I don't, I go to the gym. You'll find variety, and progression there.

The other major "basic" is your nutrition. You are going to eat anyway - but the choices you make for a prep diet are going to be clean foods. Eating well doesn't cost more. Price cold cereal per ounce and try to argue this one with me. A 25 pound bag of rice costs about $13 at Costco. Chicken is $1.77/pound this week at my local market...everyone needs to eat.

Here comes the next important component. Getting some expert advice. Hiring a coach will run you $150+/month for the duration of your prep, and a smart competitor works with their coach off season as well. Plan on it.

Competing in the NPC, (National Physique Committee) the governing body of our sport, will run you $120 each year. Membership is required and does have benefits.

Depending on your division you will need shoes - $40-$100.

Ladies - your suit will run you $100 for an inexpensive bikini to thousands for a pro level suit. Shop according to your budget. Suits are available to rent, and available used. There is something for every budget. You'll also need accessories.

Tanning, hair and makeup. Tanning is something you don't want to DIY if you are a beginner. This can be the most stressful process, and the last thing you want to mess up on a really important day. Let the professionals take care of you - plan to spend $120.

Hair - is what it is. Some girls get extensions, color, and all the bells and whistles. I know what it costs me to have a cut and color (and I try not to let my husband know). Plan on that expense. The day of your show, you can do your own hair, or have it done. That costs money too. Same with your makeup.

Makeup the day of your show is easy if you're good at stage makeup. Most are not. Let the professionals do it. Plan on $50+ for this. You are paying for a zero stress experience and a professional who knows how to make you look stage appropriate.

Let's talk about hair removal. Waxing is an option and that costs money too. What ever method you choose, add that to your budget.

Now, I hear people talk a lot about supplements and how expensive that is. Here's the deal. You don't need MOST of that. You need a protein powder. You don't really need a preworkout, massive amounts of BCAAs, an intraworkout, fatburners, "energy" pills, and all that other stuff.

If you have EXTRA money, go for it. But for every competitor I hear complaining about how expensive it is...stop buying a bunch of stuff you don't need.

Your contest fee. Your contest fee will be around $120. You may be traveling, or staying overnight at a hotel. Add those expenses. You may need to purchase tickets for family, add those fees as well.

Competing in a local show could run you about $3,000.
Food $100/week for 16 weeks = $1,600
Coaching $600
Shoes $40
Suit and accessories $300
NPC $120
Show registration $120
Tanning $120
Hair $100

Now, I think about it in terms of what I'm not doing. I'm not spending on lunches out, dinners out, coffees out. I'm not buying golf rounds, or going to the movies at $16 per ticket, I'm not buying cocktails at $10 a pop. I'm not spending $20 on a pizza or going to happy hour. And really, I will be eating anyway.

Plan ahead. Know what you're getting into. AND if you can't afford to compete, don't. This is one hobby where you won't become famous, you won't earn prize money, and you may not even do well. Getting to the stage has a cost associated with it. Now you know.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Gluten and Your Diet, What is It?

by Kris Pitcher

Nutrition is full of trends and fads. A trend refers to the growing popularity of something, where a fad is something that comes and goes very quickly - think fashion. For various reasons, gluten is all the rage. That is not to say it's a fad. There is an increasing trend in awareness about gluten.

Gluten is a protein. It has a curly structure, and is found in wheat, rye and barley. These members of the grass family contain true gluten, some people are highly allergic, and others are intolerant of gluten.

Now, both corn and rice have stored proteins called gluten, but their protein structure is slightly different. They don't contain true gluten. One of the challenges with certain grains is cross-contamination.

Rice, oats, and quinoa don't have true gluten proteins, but face cross-contamination either in growing, or processing. When oats are grown near wheat, you have cross-contamination issues. It's nature. This is common with oats especially.

So what's all this about? Today's conversation is about the dumbing down of nutritional issues. If I told you water was lactose free...would you buy it? Would you think my water was better than the water next to it without that claim?

How about cholesterol free carrots? The carrots in that package must be healthier than the ones next to it that don't say "cholesterol free"? Right? The thing is, plants (mostly) do not contain cholesterol. None of the carrots ever had any in the first place. But consumers are stupid. So, marketing is king.

Rice Chex cereal, "Gluten Free" - it says it right on the box. Well? Does rice contain gluten? Fundamentally, no. Now, what a smart consumer does know is gluten is often added to products as fillers. Check your labels for ingredient lists.

But that consumer is not likely buying boxed cereal anyway. My point is, don't be fooled by marketing regarding nutrition information that should not be in the item you are buying. Lactose is in MILK, not water. Cholesterol is in animal products, not vegetables.

Learn about things you care about. Find out more information about nutrients you want to include or exclude from your eating plan. Don't be a sucker for marketing claims. Be a smart, informed, consumer.

Me? I love gluten. It doesn't agree with me. It's inflammatory (kind of like my blogs sometimes). It doesn't fit into my prep, or off season plans. BUT I do enjoy the occasional gluten gluttony.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Why Your Contest Prep Coach Wants to Fire You

by Kris Pitcher

Disclaimer: This topic was not inspired by any of you. It wasn't inspired by my husband, who is a coach. None of the acts here within represent behaviors of his clients. It may however hit a chord..If it walks like a duck...

Most people want to make relationships work, and that's no different for the coach-client relationship. But just because you've paid for someones services, doesn't mean you can't be fired.

Here are the top ten reasons your coach wants to FIRE you:
  1. You say your diet is on point, but your facebook post says otherwise. - Don't forget you are fb friends with your coach. They will see that post about your "cheat day", those pics of you and your friends at the party drinking alcohol, and that anniversary dinner you also didn't clear.
  2. You think your plan is a "suggestion". When you aren't doing your plan, your plan isn't going to work. You can't do it some days and not others. You can't do "most" of it. You are either doing it, or you're not. If you're not, your coach is really confused why you're not responding and progressing.
  3. You want to eat a protein bar every day, for dessert. While marketing is king, bars don't fit your plan, your macros, or anything else. And competitors don't get dessert. You don't get first call out by replacing meals with bars.
  4. You don't exactly eat all your meals. Number 2, your plan is not a suggestion. Skipping meals is not doing your plan. If you have time issues, or what ever your deal is, talk it out and find a solution with your coach. If they think you're eating, and you're not...they'll be confused about your progress (see a trend here?).
  5. You don't check in.When you don't check in, or you check in once a month, your coach has forgotten about you. It's your responsibility to check in and provide good feedback. Coaches don't have time to chase you. And they cannot provide you with anything, if you aren't participating.
  6. You wonder what you should eat if you're hungry. If it's not on your plan, you aren't eating it. Eat your meals, on time. There isn't anything "else" to eat. It is ok to be hungry, you will not die. Eat more green vegetables.
  7. You are constantly insisting on diet changes. Usually this is accompanied by numbers 3, 4, and 5. Your coach isn't going to change your diet for the fun of it. They are also not going to change it if you aren't 100% compliant with your current plan. They can't tell if the current plan is working, because you aren't doing it. Once you do it, and they see if it's working, they'll make changes. That's how this works.
  8. You are suffering on 200 gms of carbs a day. Your coach believes you have suffered for nothing in your privileged life. You don't know suffrage.
  9. You blame your coach for your lack of progress. If you're guilty of any of the above, you're living in a fool's paradise. But honestly, when everything is working, you are making progress. When you have problems, it's usually on you. Tough love right there. You are accountable.
  10. Ten year old girls are stronger than you, and you think you're "killin' it". There is a serious lack of understanding of proper intensity. And you think you are just really bad ass. I don't know if people are lazy, or want the IFBB to just come to their gym and hand out invitations to the league...I don't know. I sense this underlying generational feeling of entitlement. That's another blog.
I know of coaches who fire people left and right. I also know of coaches who never communicate and make it really hard for you to be a good client. A great coach is going to communicate with you, ,work through problems, provide solutions and build a strong relationship with you. Your role is to provide honest feedback, to do your plan, to trust them, meaning not second guessing every aspect of your program.

If you're neurotic and panicy, you'll make your coach crazy. If you withold information, lie, cheat, and believe every bit of bro science you can get your hands're in line to be fired.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Food - Fair or Fuel

by Kris Pitcher

Recently my husband (who is also my coach) and I had a conversation about my off season weight. I'm currently less than 5 pounds up from contest weight 7 weeks post competition. "No one preps like you do." He said.

I told him my success was completely related to the fact he was currently dieting. I'm no fool. And that when he wasn't dieting, I knew it would be much harder for me. I gathered my bags ready to head out the door for work as he was pounding out his cardio on the stair master when he said, "You better think about that."

Not sure if my laughter remained inside my head, or if some of it snuck out...I assured him I was thinking about it. About when he was not dieting, and I would need to eat differently from him. Then I left for work. It was obviously a very serious topic.

But this is truly a point of contention for many couples. The bottom line is, food is not about equity in a relationship. It is not about fairness. There will be a time when he's eating ice cream on the couch, and I will not be able to eat that. I have to be ok with that.

Couples who eat in "fairness" are usually in similar shape. Now, he needs to eat differently to be 190 pounds. I am not 190 pounds. I do not want to be 190 pounds. Are you following?

Wouldn't it be silly if I resented him for being able to eat differently than me? Yet most couples fall into that. These feelings stem from childhood associations, from needing to fulfill basic needs, from food being about love, and everything except about the actual food.

When the time comes, in late November, when he is no longer will be more difficult for me to maintain a tight off season. My weight will creep up, a little. I might have to do a few more minutes of cardio. We'll enjoy a few meals out now and then. And I will have to stay very connected to my goals.

Take a moment to stop and think about it. About how you feel about food. Is it fair, is it equitable? Or is it fuel. Does it get you to your goal? Is it ok if other people eat differently? Will you eat this way for a short while, or for the rest of your life?

My off season looks very much like my prep - just more of it. The reason is, this is my lifestyle. I've stopped seeing food as fair, or not fair. It's just fuel.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Timing Your Contest Prep, Will You Be Ready?

by Kris Pitcher

You're [fill in the blank] weeks out, and you don't feel like you'll be ready in time for your contest date. News flash! No one ever feels like they will be ready. I can't even count how many contests I've done, and I've rarely felt ready.

I've stood in the line up back stage, ready to go on for prejudging - and wasn't sure if I was ready. Here are a couple of things to ease your mind around this. First, you'll be as ready as you've ever been.

Most of you will be in the best shape of your life. You'll be the best you, you've ever been. How much better does it get? Maintaining perspective on this is so important. Every time I hit the stage, I'm better than the time before. If this is your first time, you will be in the best shape of your life.

You won't look like the pros. You can just stop comparing yourself to the pros you follow on instagram and facebook. Just stop that right now. Stop comparing yourself to women who compete in different divisions. Sure some of them do 2 NPC shows, then go to one national level show and turn pro. But that is NOT the norm. And it's not going to happen to you. Be willing to work. Hard.

You won't look or feel ready 4 weeks out, or 6, or even 3. If you are working with a coach, they are timing your progress so you're ready in time...not early. Keeping contest ready conditioning for a long period of time isn't something you want to do. With that in mind, you won't "look" ready. Because you aren't.

Most importantly, this process is not linear. You won't lose 5 pounds every week for 16 weeks. You aren't going to drop 3% body fat weekly for the duration of your prep. It doesn't work like that. Some weeks you will see a number change, some you won't. That doesn't mean nothing is happening.

Never feel frustrated with that. It's just science. It's what happens over the cumulative duration of your prep that makes you "ready" in time. Your weight doesn't matter, your body fat percentage doesn't matter.

There is no component during prejudging where every competitor will be weighed, measured, and tested for body fat. Get over it. Your numbers don't matter. What does matter is how you look. Which you become blind to. Your coach can see how you look. Trust them.

What you can rest assured in, is you are doing everything you should be doing to get ready in time. Leave nothing undone. Don't nibble, or miss meals. Don't miss workouts, or cut your cardio. Don't think you're "killin' it" by doing more than you are supposed to do. Just work your plan. And your plan will work.

It isn't until I look at stage pictures when I truly realize - I was ready. Putting energy into thinking about this now isn't serving you well. Trust your process. Trust yourself. Be confident that you will be ready. You won't believe your pictures! You're going to be ready.