Friday, November 13, 2015

Please STOP Asking Competitors These Questions

by Kris Pitcher

Week by week, as I watch my husband come ever closer to his competition date, I cringe each time someone at the gym asks certain questions. I know it's with the best of intentions...but here are some things you should not ask a competitor.

  1. Don't you have a show coming up? Being reminded of this daily, weekly, is simply painful. Yes. The show is still coming up.
  2. When do you start cutting? Cutting started when the diet began. Sixteen weeks ago. 
  3. Do you think you'll ever compete again? I actually want to quit this very moment. Please don't ask me to think about what is after this competition.
  4. You look like you're really shrinking down? Yes. Yes, I feel about as small as a second grader. Thank you for pointing that out.
  5. Are you eating, like, a lot of protein and stuff? No. Not stuff exactly.
  6. What do you want to eat after? Everything. If you had any idea what I'm eating now, you'd retract that question and apologize. 
  7. Your lifts are lighter, is that part of the cutting? No. I am exhausted and my body is about to fall apart. I've lost strength and I am trying to keep from getting injured. 
  8. How old are you? This insinuates you think I should have quit before I started. I'm young, very young.
  9. What happens if you don't win? This just makes my jaw drop. I don't even know what you're asking. Everyone doesn't win...
  10. Can I work in? *Sigh...yes. You can. It's just I really want to get this workout over with and you working in is going to slow that down. By all means, work right in. 
It's not that you should not talk to a competitor. It's just questions like these are like a burning poker being plunged into their eye. When they're asked day in, day out - over and's just as exhausting as the cardio and the caloric deficit. It's like competition questioning endurance.

The final week is upon us, and the questions will dwindle. And then they won't be so hot and poky. If you're a competitor, you can relate to these and other questions that just stop you in your tracks. 

My favorite? Do you work out?

Monday, November 9, 2015

5 Things to Become a Really Great Competitor

by Kris Pitcher

I've observed a lot of competitors. Good ones. Mediocre ones. Ones who could be amazing if they just got all the pieces together. Those ones who are the 2%, and those who just should stay home.

While it takes all kinds to make the world go around, no one embarks on contest prep wanting to just get by. We all want to be really good. Better than really good. Great even. To be great, there are some things you have to do.

  1. Specificity - Really great competitors, regardless of division, train specifically for this sport. You don't become a better marathon runner by swimming laps. And you don't become a better bodybuilder by doing boot camp classes, or yoga. You just don't. You have to lift heavy weights, and use cardio as a tool to burn fat. Period. Specificity. If you have energy to do other things, or focus on other things, you're doing it wrong.
  2. Eat - You must be able to eat. Eat all your food every meal, every day no excuses. Food should not be your source of entertainment and no one cares if you're sick of chicken or if oatmeal makes you gag. This is not the sport for you if you cannot, or will not eat your food and comply with your plan. 
  3. Work - You need to be willing to put in your time and work your way up the ranks. There are no "politics" if you work hard. Let your physique speak for itself. Keep showing up. The days of two shows to turn pro are over. The playing field is too full, and too competitive. Stop dreaming and work.
  4. Be accountable - Accountability to others is great, it can be a strong motivator. In order to be a great competitor, you must be accountable to yourself. Finding your purpose in this sport is a personal thing. Use this as a place of accountability and motivation. You have to want this for yourself.
  5. Focus - Getting your head in the game is critical. This takes clarity, organization, connection to your values. Great athletes have mental focus. This is what transcends them to the top. 
If you hone in on these five things, you will become a better competitor. When you stop blaming other people for your shortfalls, your transgressions, your failures - you'll become a better competitor. 

When you can put in the work and stop "wishing" your program would magically happen - you'll become a better competitor. When you can focus your mental game - you will become a better competitor. When you commit to the training specificity required to truly make progress - you will become a better competitor.

When you eat all your meals and stay on point following your plan 100% - you will become a better competitor. These things will encourage you to become accountable to yourself first. And you will become a great competitor. What are you waiting for? Put the pieces in place to become great!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Your Cheat Meal, Tool or Fool

by Kris Pitcher

It hurt to sit, but when I tried to lay down I couldn't breathe. I propped some pillows up and tried to recline in a semi-upright position, still uncomfortable. Uncertain how long the pain would last I tried to feel happy about what had just happened without throwing up.

What happened was the cheat of a life time. Half a pizza, waffles with peanut butter and syrup, chocolate bars, ice cream, cookies and some more spoonfuls of peanut butter. I literally could not breathe.

My goal was to get as much in as I could within my hour. It was a dirty cheat. I would eat as much fat, sugar, and carbs as I could within my hour. When the time was up, my hands went up...and I can eat!

I had many seasons where I ate like that. The trip to the grocery store for "supplies" was exciting. I could hardly wait for the time to start. I would literally put on my pajamas, close the blinds and get to work. I needed it.

When you're eating a restricted calorie diet, a meal of increased calories serves a couple of purposes. There are two typical versions of the meal. The cheat - which is considered a no holds barred dirty meal. Or, the re-feed - which is considered a clean bump in certain nutrients.

Each serves their purpose and like all things nutrition, you'll have your values driven ideas about each one. I do too. Certain types of competitors, or dieters, need one or the other. Neither is bad or wrong, or right.

What I've decided for myself is the re-feed works well as a tool to train my body. The goal is to restore my carbohydrates, or load, with the kinds of fuel I'll eat right before my show. I'm training my body to take up those nutrients and fill out.

Each time I do this leading up to my contest, we can see what works. We can experiment with exactly which carbs work well, and exactly how much. It's the science of figuring out my body. This meal is a tool.

The nasty, dirty cheat serves a purpose too. For the competitor who is about at their breaking point, it provides the mental break needed in order to push through another week or two of prep. Often, knowing you'll get a cheat helps you get through a tough week.

Now, even a "cheat" can be prescribed. Your coach may have you eat a steak and baked potato loaded. While this isn't pizza, french fries and ice cream cake, it's less clean than just loading with the same fuels you are already eating. See the grey area?

A re-feed is typically more of what you are already eating. And a cheat is goodies. But it's not all that necessary to get caught up in semantics. The thing to get caught up in is, "What do I want this meal to do for my body?"

The meal is designed to bump up your metabolism, restore your carbohydrates (if you are eating a low carbohydrate plan), and as a result keep you moving forward with fat loss.

It's been 2 or 3 seasons since I've had dirty cheats where I've stuffed myself silly. My progression has led me to the re-feed, a tool to help us dial in my response. This is more exciting.

The dirty cheat can also set you back. WAY back. You can do a lot of damage in an hour. Believe me. So, if you're wondering why your progress has stalled, or things aren't as sharp as you'd may need to cut out all the sugar loading. Just a thought.

We each have values around the foods we choose, and the way we eat - including the "cheat". How you view this meal, this tool, can propel you forward, or set you back. Depending on where you are in your mental game you may need one or the other of these meals.

But don't be a fool about this meal, in this sport you can't have your cake and eat it too.