Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Faith, Fear and Fitness

by Kris Pitcher

I see it all the time. I see perfectly capable first time, or even experienced, competitors crumble in fear. Fear of failure. Fear they won't be "perfect" the first time. Fear they will disappoint themselves or others. So, here's a story about faith and fear that made me think of this exact predicament.

I'm traveling for work. A simple overnight. I pride myself on packing light. In fact, this trip I decided I wouldn't need to wash my hair (today). With that, I stripped my toiletries WAY down. What I didn't remember is my hotel selection while they do have a microwave, refrigerator, and 24 hour gym (required)...they don't have many amenities in the bathroom.

After sweating about 8 pounds last night, I woke realizing I needed to wash my hair. It's a public service act truly. I also realized I only had "moisturizing shampoo" at my disposal. I live for conditioner. I. Need. It. "No good can come of this." I thought as I emptied the bottle onto my head.

I toweled dry, gently. I was smart enough to bring some hair products. After all, I know what it takes to tame this hair. I LIBERALLY applied my leave in cream, looked at the hair dryer, and made a cup of coffee. "It's going to be fine." I thought to myself (faith).

The texture as I began the drying process was like the most fine spun cotton candy you have ever seen. Remarkable. It'll be fine I chanted. I pressed on. I checked some email while I let it air dry a bit. I let my curling iron heat up and looked for my claw clip to section out my hair. No clip...

I began to curl, which for me straightens, smooths and curls. It's going to be fine. Keep going. Once I had all the sections handled, I sprayed...I could tell my hairspray was just about out. It will be fine.

Letting the curls cool, I worked a bit more. Press on. Keep going. Trust. Have faith. I can do this. Then I shook things out. It looked amazing. I sprayed the last bit of hairspray from the can and tossed it in the trash.

But what if I had just quit? Or, what if I hadn't even started? What if I had woken up with sweaty, stinky hair and knowing my circumstances just threw my hands up and didn't even try? Wouldn't that be silly?

Did it look perfect when I took the towel off? No. Did my original plan work out? No. Did it look great when I finally got it dry? No it did NOT.

But in the end, when I had persevered through all the steps with faith in my abilities, it worked out.

So, I'm always perplexed when someone just gives up on themselves because they can't see the very end product. Of course you can't see it. It's many steps, months likely, down the road. Keep going!

Stop looking for reasons and ways to quit on yourself. Find faith in your ability to succeed. Find your faith!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

I Don't Care What You Think - It's Quackery

by Kris Pitcher

Historically, there have always been polarizing opposing social views. The beauty, and the curse, of current times is the unrelenting access to share passive aggressive views digitally. It's a revolutionary time for anyone with a polarizing view to share it, along with anecdotal information to back it up as their "truth".

This gets people really riled up. Me? I don't care what you think. And this comes from a good place, a nice place. I simply don't put energy there. I started to think about 3:33 am, when I couldn't sleep. Why is it, that I don't care what you think?

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, a fairly liberal region. My family was a blend of religions, which meant occasional holiday services, or going to church with grandparents. Translation: we were not religious. My neighborhood was diverse and had a lot of kids. I grew up with all kinds of kids, they all just seemed like "kids", not kids defined by race, religion, or orientation.

I was also a child of the '70's and '80's. This means...we played outside, we feared our parents, we learned to socialize, we had to solve conflicts face-to-face, and we dialed people on the telephone...and spoke directly to them.

My point is to illustrate my foundation of inclusion. I feel like - you're entitled to your opinion, I'm not likely to change it, especially if you aren't interested in truths and "eff" it. Basically.

To me, it seems a terrible waste of energy, and frankly embarrassing, to make broad social statements based on hearsay, legend, false and untrue information, or flat out lies. It's embarrassing because factual information is so readily available and accessible on the same piece of equipment used to post the nonsense.

Snake oil has been selling like hot cakes since 1712, quackery is nothing new. People are still lined up around the block to get it. There's a sucker to buy into anything you want to sell them, including inaccurate information. Why would I waste energy on that?

Truth be told, I don't care. When I say this comes from a "good" place it's because I'm busy doing something. I'm busy making my own impact where I can. I choose to engage in solution, and I suggest you do the same. Together, we just might create a better place. For everyone.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Anatomy of a Successful Off Season

by Kris Pitcher

Coming off a show, most of us want to make progress. Before I even hit the stage, I'm thinking about what I want to work on, what I need to work on, and what my next steps should be. For me, the contest isn't the end of anything, it's just one stop in a cycle of progression.

People think of physique sports in two phases, either prep, or off season. What you do in, or with, that time makes all the difference. I'm always surprised when someone comes to me at 16 weeks out and is ready to start working out in preparation for a contest.

You have to have some mad genetics to only work out during a 16 week prep. Most of us do not fit that category. Thinking of those two phases, let's talk about the anatomy of a successful off season.

The period immediately following your contest leaves your body very anabolic. That means it wants to gain. When you fuel well, you will gain muscle. When you go off the rails, you will rebound and get really fat.

Let's assume you want to fuel well and make progress. Take advantage of this opportunity by:

  1. Maintain meal frequency - continue to eat your 5 or 6 meals per day. You've trained your body to work well with this.
  2. Follow your exit plan - your coach has provided you with an exit plan, follow it. If they didn't, it's time for a new coach. The exit plan is as important as any aspect of your prep. 
  3. Cut back your cardio - hopefully you haven't been doing a lot of cardio during your prep. Regardless, you want to taper the cardio back. 
  4. Lift - you'll have the fuel necessary to lift heavy again. Your energy will be up, and it's time to put it to use focusing on the areas you want to improve.
  5. Manage your extras - I like to treat "extras" with caution. Rather than having a little bit of goodies every day, maintain a schedule of a re-feed, or cheat meal. 
Over time during your off season, it's easy to step away from the structure. You start to feel like you don't really need it, or you might be sick of eating your food...this is where people get in trouble during their off season. Before you know it, you've gained a lot more than you intended.

Stay in touch with your coach. The most successful athletes work with their coach year round. Having the guidance, accountability, and objective eye of your coach is as valuable off season. You can expect more flexibility, more options, and in some cases less frequent check ins.

Keeping focused during your off season allows you to make gains while maintaining a reasonable level of body fat. I don't subscribe to getting fat in order to gain muscle. You can make lean gains. 

And hopefully, your method of eating has become a lifestyle. That's what it takes to make progress, have a successful off season, and become a better athlete.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Spicing Up Your Diet - What Can I Put On My Food?

by Kris Pitcher

Lots of people ask me what they can put on their food. Both competitors and lifestyle clients alike want to know what the guidelines are. Here's the short answer: it depends.

It depends on your goals. It depends on your values. Values? Yes, your values around foods. Lots of nutritional choices are values based decisions. I have my own ideas (values), and you can form yours too.

I cook in bulk and season each meal. This method gives me variety. I also cook the components of my meals separate. Again, this gives me the most flexibility to select the type of protein, and carbs I want in each meal.

A lot of people shifting to a healthier way of eating are used to sauces and dressings. Sometimes those things just don't fit the new goals. Or, we need to look at alterations to our favorites. When we want change, we need to be open to change.

Have you been down the spice aisle lately? All dry spices are great. There are tons of spice blends, rubs, and spice mixes to add to the flavor of your meals. And unless you are dealing with high blood pressure, salt is fine. We need salt. Take a trip down the spice aisle and see what catches your eye. Be sure to look at the list of ingredients, and watch for any "ose". Words ending in "ose" are some form of sugar. Sugar is added to lots of things for flavor and filler.

Hello hot sauce! Check the ingredient list for hidden sugars, but most hot sauces are fine. I love it on pretty much everything. There are hundreds to choose from whether you like it mild, or HOT. Go for it!

What about dressing up those summer salads? Look for a very low calorie option with minimal ingredients. If you don't understand the ingredient don't want it. Many "fat free" products are full of sugar, or other fillers. Get creative in the kitchen and make a dressing.

That's right, make your own. I love mustard with apple cider vinegar. Keep in mind I am smack dab in the middle of prep. If I weren't, I'd mix in a little balsamic vinegar, a touch of olive oil and shake it up. Oh! I almost forgot about fish sauce. I love that in dressings too.

Soy sauce is a values choice. Soy products can be estrogenic, and based on your goals this may or may not fit. It also contains gluten. So if that's a thing for soy. But for most, some soy sauce on things makes a great taste.

The key is staying away from things with lots of sugar. Ketchup, most BBQ sauces, anything white, Hoisen sauce (my favorite in the off season)...these are going to add to our caloric intake when our goal is to control calories and use them on the most nutrient rich foods for our body.

Another key is staying away from high fat sauces. Anything in the cheese related family is not going to get you to your goals. Gravies, sorry.

Explore the wide variety of salts on the market now. There are also many varieties of peppers. Red pepper flakes are another great way to add some spark to your meals.

Fresh herbs are fantastic. So are green onions. And you would be surprised how a spritz of lemon or lime will wake up any meal. Any dried herbs are great additions to the cooking process too. There is simply zero reason to feel bored with your food, or feel like you have to cover everything with saucy-sauce.

Tasting things in a new way gives you a fresh perspective, and will get you to your healthy eating goals. Hit the grocery store and open your eyes to some new ways to spice things up!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Explaining Your Fitness and Nutrition Pursuits to the People Around You

by Kris Pitcher

When you begin to incorporate changes in your lifestyle, people take note. Whether you are bringing your meals to work, passing on the plethora of goodies, or making different choices in social settings, people start to notice.

In my experience, there are two things happening here. The people around you start to think about their own choices. It can make people uncomfortable when you are making a choice guided by your plan, and they are eating cake. That's not about you, it's about them.

We see this in couples a lot. One person begins to make lifestyle changes, and the other person feels threatened. They worry you will try to also change them. Now, healthy changes, losing weight, and improving your lifestyle shouldn't threaten those around you, yet somehow it does.

People are noticing, and commenting on what you are doing. They ask questions, they share what they are doing, and why they are right and you are not. Then comes the second thing here, you feel like you need to explain yourself.

I've always just done my thing, no explanation required. I've found over time, when people ask questions they really aren't interested in a lot of detail. If you begin to explain details...deer in headlights. They don't really want to know. I've taken that as a cue to not explain myself in the first place.

Yes. Yes I am eating chicken out of my purse in a meeting. No explanation. Yes, I am going to the gym instead of happy hour. No explanation. No, I don't care for the treats at the office celebration. No explanation.

I'm not trying to impact or impress those around me. Eat what you want. Do what you want. I don't need an explanation. And I have found, when I do and eat what I want, others don't expect one either.

If you find yourself constantly explaining yourself and your choices, challenge whether this is an internal need. Is less detail plenty? Probably. "I'm making some shifts in my nutrition and exercise." Period. Your pursuits are yours. No explanation required. Try it.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Mindless Munching, How to Combat Eating When You're Bored

by Kris Pitcher

You know when you're bored and you find yourself elbow deep in a bag of chips, or you look up to see you've plowed through an entire sleeve of Thin Mints? Or is that just me? A lot of damage can be done in just a few minutes of mindless munching.

We've had a lot of tough love conversations over the years, and this might turn out to be one of them. I'm going to first share some thoughts on being "bored". Being bored is for kids. Kids get bored. Frankly, I don't know how. I take that back. I do know how. Most kids don't know how to play. That's another blog.

I can rarely recall being bored growing up. You want to know why? Because if I said I was bored, it would be a matter of about 3 minutes and my dad would have me stacking wood. I wasn't about to be on the lookout for chores.

Being "bored" is about procrastinating the things you need to get done. I'm not suggesting you busy yourself 24/7. I am all about down time. But if you are bored at have work you need to get done and simply don't want to do. If you're bored at home, take up a hobby.

Some people feel like they need to (entitlement) snack during certain activities. Driving for instance. Or watching TV. Some people feel like they need to snack during a movie. Snack. Snack. Snack. Guess what? Snacking isn't part of your big picture plan (unless it is, in which case we work those things in).

If I jump off my "being bored" soap box, I can share some techniques that will help you. I'm down now. First, if you are actually hungry - look at your meal timing. Are you getting the nutrients you need at the appropriate times during the day? Typically snacking isn't about being hungry. It's about feeding emotion, and filling time.

Let's talk about filling time. I am a big fan of replacing one habit for another. We just need to make a choice that goes with your goals. For those of you finding yourselves "bored" at home, here are a few things you might try:

  • paint your nails
  • floss and brush your teeth
  • drink hot tea
  • chew a piece of sugarless gum
  • take up knitting (seriously)
  • work on a project
  • get an adult coloring book
  • massage hand lotion into your hands and arms
  • take a hot bath
  • work in the garden
When you are bored at work it's time to prioritize and get some work done. Revisit your goals, timelines and deliverable outcomes. Your first step to success here is, don't have snacks hidden in those drawers.

  • create a priority task list
  • take a quick walk around the block for fresh air
  • clean out your inbox
  • organize your files
  • look through your contacts and connect with someone
  • find a mentor and schedule a coffee meeting
  • read a professional development book
  • spring clean your space
  • drink water
  • develop a stretch goal above what's expected of you
  • write a thank you card (people still do this)
  • organize for the next day, week, quarter etc.
Recognizing when you are "bored" and what your habits are around that is the first step. Creating an environment for success is critical. If you don't have "snacks" in the house/office/car, you can't eat them. Stay connected to your nutrition goals. And find some clarity in your personal and professional priorities. Before you know it, you will have banished mindless munching.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to Manage Emotional Eating

by Kris Pitcher

I'm not at all phased by the pizza, cupcakes, or the lone Costco muffin left in the break room at work. There are also Oreo cookies and other snack items for the taking, available ALL THE TIME.

In my twenty-fifth year of successful personal weight management, I see food differently. My lens is focused on my goals and my values. Most importantly, my vision is conscientious. We get in trouble when we put our blinders on.

What I mean is, food should be a deliberate choice rather than an emotion which overcomes us, leading us into the depths of a binge. The American culture is heavily infused with emotional eating. We celebrate our very first birthday as onlookers cheer as we smash our cake covering ourselves with it. The Cake Smash.

Left to my emotions I would be elbow deep in a bag of chips. So, how can I simply walk past the beautifully iced cupcakes in the break room? Easy. I'm connected to my goals. I'm aware of my choices. Success begins with emotional management.

While some might argue I'm a cold-hearted fill-in-the-blank, I am an emotional person. I'm also good at managing my stress, and controlling what I can control. Did you know you are in control of how you respond to things?

You are! This just may be the secret sauce to managing your emotions. Social media is full of posts spewing on and on about how upset people are over this or that. Reel it in people. What is really affecting you in your life? And what do you have control over?

Allowing external events, people, name it, to cause a reaction leading you to eat your emotions is self sabotage at its best. Being in control of your reactions takes recognition of a situation, knowing what your options are, and choosing one.

If emotional eating is eating you up, it's time to stop and take a breath. It's time to think about situations and choose your reaction. This is how you manage your emotions, and your emotional eating. Be present. This means being aware of what is going on around you.

Awareness is key to thinking through solutions, and making a choice. Everything we do is a choice. Each choice we make has consequences. Our food choices are no different. Whether we over eat, don't eat, eat the wrong things...all choices with consequences. But don't blame everything "out there".

Begin to assess your surroundings, your situation, and the events you find yourself in. Stop and think about your choices. Which choice aligns with your goals? Be present and make a conscious choice. Take your blinders off and deal with, and manage, your emotions.

Take a deep breath and clear your vision. The choice is yours!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Compliance and Physique Competition

by Kris Pitcher

noun | com-pli-ance | the act or process of complying to a desire, demand, proposal, or regimen

I've often heard over the years, "I wish I had your self control." It's not really self control that I have, it's compliance. I'd like to have all the foods the rest of the world eats, but the truth is...I'm working toward a different physique.

With that, I have a coach who lays out a plan for me. I follow my plan. I am compliant. It's very simple. Truth be told, nothing in this sport is really all that simple, and neither is compliance.

You see, I must be compliant because my genetics are just average. I need every bit of every minute I spend both in prep and off season to make the changes necessary. All of it. I don't have the luxury of being able to kind of follow my plan, or to cheat now and then. My genetics simply don't allow it.

Now, for all you cheaters, and those of you who take your plan as a "guideline" can get by because of your genetics. Your coach usually knows when you aren't exactly on plan, but you're making it really hard for them. 

You might even do well competing as a non-compliant client. I'm wondering though, how well would you do if you did comply? Where could you take yourself in this sport if you just buckled down and did the work? All of the work. 

Compliance to your plan is the only way your coach knows if your plan is working. When you aren't in compliance, you aren't doing your plan. And if you aren't doing your plan...we might as well just throw darts at a board to make decisions about you.

It's a misconception that you can be non-compliant and still make good progress. Sorry, but if you aren't doing your plan, your coach can't make a judgement about what to adjust. The first adjustment is, do your plan. Follow it to a "T". Then we can see if it works.

I would never advocate you comply with a ridiculous plan, or one that included foods you hate. A good coach can alter and provide you some choices so you can live with your plan. If you hate broccoli, by all means...there are A LOT of other vegetables to choose from. 

My strength in compliance comes from a place of self choice. I choose this lifestyle. I choose to eat the way I do. I choose to exercise. I choose this. No one is telling me to do it. Non-compliance usually comes from a place of either defiance, misinformation or mistrust.

My approach is to educate clients on why we are doing certain things at certain times and in certain combinations. Knowledge leads to compliance in my experience. My advice? Ask questions. If you are working with someone you trust, listen to them. Lean. Learn why you are doing things a certain way.

It's a challenge to have so much information at the tips of our fingers. Sifting through that information is a burden, it's conflicting and confusing. Let your coach be the guide. When you work with someone who has a background in nutritional science...they should be a good resource. If you are non-compliant because you don't like their methods, work with someone else.

If you are non-compliant because you feel like you "deserve" certain things, or are overcome with feelings of defiance when someone tells you what to do, dig deep and deal with those emotions. Get clear on your goals and values.

There is no will power, no self control. There is compliance and trust. And if you fall into the non-compliant category, well this sport may not be for you. Think about your daily routine, your habits and your attitude. Are you compliant?  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Constipation and Competition, Why You Can't Poop

by Kris Pitcher

I'm a producer, let's just start there. This blog is going to get personal. So, if you're not up for talking about your is the time to bow out.

Bowel issues are very common not only among competitors, but general population as well. What's "normal"? Normal frequency varies from three times a day, to 2 times per week. If you are having less than 3 bowel movements a week, you're constipated.

There are as many causes to constipation as there are remedies. A few common ones include pregnancy, age, dehydration, low fiber diet, sedentary lifestyle, medications, over use of laxatives, stress, diabetes, thyroid disorders, stress...the list is long.

For women, the most common cause is hormones. Thank you menstruation. After ovulation, our progesterone levels increase and peak. The levels slowly decrease until it drops enough to trigger menstruation - the actual bleeding.

Not long ago, my husband and I had a conversation about this. He was flabbergasted (my word) that women know VERY little about something so consuming. He said, "If I was bleeding every month I'm pretty sure I would know everything there was to know about it." And he would. He knows more about it than most of us.

Progesterone delays the transit time of food, and we get stopped up. By the onset of menstruation, we are gassy, bloated, and you guessed it...constipated. Recall that this hormone is peaking about a week before we see blood.

This is usually when the texts come in from competitive clients, "I can't poop." Or, "I haven't pooped for 3 days." First response? Where are you in your cycle. Period.

There are some common ways to alleviate constipation. Using laxatives is the least desirable. Remember over use of laxatives can cause constipation, so you're in a circle on this one. Let's go over some better choices to remedy your issue.

Most of us are fairly active, but increasing activity is great. Ensuring we are getting a fiber rich diet is also important. We can increase our intake of magnesium citrate. Increasing water is also key. Ginger tea, or really any hot tea, helps to warm and relax the lower intestines. We can also increase our intake of vitamin C.

It's also thought that propping your feet up while sitting on the john will adjust the angle of your bowels and help get thing moving. There are actual devices for this (no, I don't have one).

On a regular basis (see what I did there?) we can take a pro-biotic to ensure good gut health. Usually, one or more of these remedies in combination will get you moving. And if your stop up is due to hormonal fluctuations, those will change, and you will go.

And when all else fails, there's always the last ditch effort...the enema. But, we can usually get things moving before we need to go that route. Well, you know what I mean. Now you know more about your bowels, what's normal, and how to get things moving when you're constipated. It happens, pretty much to everyone.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Life According to Plan

by Kris Pitcher

While spending a few days in regional team meetings, I've had the opportunity to hear leadership speak on a number of topics. Our division VP asked if anyone had ever had a situation where things didn't go as planned.

Umm. Yes! For example, all the time. Life doesn't necessarily go as planned. We have a certain idea of how things should go, will go...must go. But things don't always go that way, our way. Then what?

What's the difference between someone who excels and succeeds, and someone who lays down in defeat? The difference is simple. YOU are the difference. OK, it's a little more complicated than that. The difference is how you react to life's plan.

Things don't happen "to" you. They just happen. How we deal with them is our chosen reaction. So when things don't go according to plan, what do you do? How do you react?

Getting to any goal is dependent on your ability to problem solve. You must be able to take in new information, make an educated choice, and move ahead. Life is dynamic. It doesn't play out like a movie, or the fairy tale in our minds. It plays out how it plays out. We handle things as they come.

When you've planned to walk on the treadmill and you get to the gym to find they are all full what do you do? You can make a number of choices. You can panic, get back in your car and go home. You can stand behind someone and wait with steam rolling from your head until their done (awkward). You can choose a different mode for your cardio. You solve problems.

The way we react to life's "input" either makes us, or breaks us. Think about the most recent challenge you've faced. How did you react? Anger. Frustration. Stress. Are you playing a victim in your life? Or are you actively solving challenges to get to your success?

Very few things in life go "as planned". I could think of countless BIG life examples of things not going according to the plan in my mind. My ability to adapt, creatively solve problems, and think about potential solutions keeps me moving forward with a mindset of empowerment.

Quiet the drama around victimization by every tiny thing that isn't going your way. Choose a different perspective and things will actually begin to open up to you. In my experience, this is when life begins to go...according to plan.

Friday, March 24, 2017

My First NPC Competition, What to Expect Back Stage

by Kris Pitcher

The unknown makes us nervous. That's just how life works. Truth is 95% of what we worry about doesn't happen. Just this morning, I was anxious about asking my boss for something. I asked. He said "probably". That's a yes in my book. My point? I unnecessarily worried about all the possible unknowns.

As your first contest nears, I understand there are a lot of things you are thinking about. There are lots of unknowns you are worried about. One of the unknowns is...what will it be like back stage?

I've blogged about the things not to do back stage, like get in my safety circle. But I thought it only fair to share what to expect. While each show is different, much of what you'll experience back stage is a shared "phenomenon".

You've checked in, attended the competitor meeting, and tried to sleep. Now you wake up, get your hair and make up done and you are ready to head back stage and wait for prejudging to begin.

My BEST piece of advice? Be back stage. I know from experience that if you aren't there, no one is holding the show for you. You wouldn't want to do all this work and miss your class. Be where you are supposed to be. Don't be in the audience watching your friends. Don't be up in your room getting ready. Be. Back. Stage.

It's cramped and crowded back there. There may be a "ladies only" area for changing, and there may not. Wear your suit. Take what you need in your small bag, but don't take a giant purse, a roller carry on, cooler and a duffel bag. Think about making a small footprint back there.

Orient yourself to where the tanning company is. They will glue your suit, do any touch ups, and glaze you. Find the restroom. It may be a sani-can, or an actual bathroom. Know where it is.

You can look for an outlet, but often won't find one. Don't plan on plugging anything in. Anything. This means come with your hair done. The area will be covered in paper, or plastic so the promoter doesn't have hundreds of tanned people putting color everywhere.

Look for your expediters. They will have been introduced to you at the competitor meeting and it's good to keep your eye out for them. Their job is to call out which classes are coming up, who needs to line up, and ensure the line gets out on stage. While they may call your name/number multiple times...they will not hold the show up for you. Expedite, it's in the name.

Look for pump up equipment. There may be nothing. There may be weights and bands. It's a good idea to bring a band. Bring one you don't mind losing. There will also be mirrors. Lots of them. But know that you don't HAVE to pump up in front of a mirror. You know what you look like.

What will you see? You'll see lots of nervous energy translated into all kinds of behaviors. I once saw a gal literally pump up for five hours. FIVE! You will see people eating candy (sometimes off the floor), you'll see people drinking from tiny bottles of wine or alcohol. You will see all kinds of crazy.

Don't be crazy. Do what your coach has outlined for you. Which is, be where you are supposed to be, throw down a sweatshirt or towel, and rest. Follow whatever protocol they would like for you to do. Don't worry or wonder if you should be doing what you see others doing.

As the prejudging progresses, pay attention. About 3 classes before yours, you should have your shoes on, grab your band, and be in line with the tanning company to be glued, touched up and glazed. In that order. If you are in that line and you are a class F, and the class B is being called and girls are waiting behind you, wave the shorties ahead. Common courtesy prevails. Always.

Once glued and glazed. NO MORE BENDING DOWN. This means no grabbing for jewelry or lip gloss. You are now upright for the duration of prejudging. Get your band and pump up. Shoulders and back. That's pretty much it.

Sure, you'll see lunges, push-ups, glute lifts, abdominal crunches...but we really don't want blood rushing through those areas diminishing our sharpness. Keep your sharpness. Then, listen for the expediters.

They call your class to line up. You line up. Get in numerical order. Sometimes you're in the line up for a while, keep your band. Sometimes you have to be walked from one holding area to another area in the venue. Then you're out on stage!

It may be hot. It may be cold. Bring layers. It will be farty. Everyone carb loading and eating sugar can get pretty gassy. Just wait until finals. People are nice, mostly. Meet other competitors. You'll see big teams in a flock, and you'll see other people by themselves looking for help.

I always help other people, or invite them to my "safety circle". I can't help but take care of people, and I find others to be helpful too. We want you to have your number on the correct side (left), no tags sticking out, or lipstick on your teeth. We want you to look your best and have a good time...even if you aren't "mine".

Being back stage is a lot of hurry up and wait. Be prepared to kind of camp out. Have what you need in your bag. Don't worry about the unknowns, the maybe's or the what if's. Make friends, and enjoy the experience. It only happens for the first time once!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Water Basics, A Weighty Subject

by Kris Pitcher

Water can be a weighty subject. People have all kinds of ideas about water. Ideas about how much you should drink, when you should drink it, when you shouldn't drink it, and in physique sports...there is just so much to cover.

Let's start with some basics. The human body is about 60% water. Our brain and heart are 73% water. Water makes up 83% of our lungs. Skin, our bodies largest organ, is 64% water. Did you know your bones have water? Bones contain about 31% water. Finally, our muscles (and kidneys incidentally), are made up of 79% water.

People talk a lot about "water weight". "I'm retaining water." Or, "I'm bloated." Well, water is not only important, it's critical. Water is life.

How do we lose water? We lose water through exhalation, sweating, urination, and our bowel movements. All of our systems rely on water to function. You might be wondering, with all this water loss, how much should you drink?

The Institute of Medicine recommends 3.3 liters for men, and 2.2 liters for women. These are for average, healthy, adults in a temperate climate. If you are active "above average", and/or live in a warm or humid, or cold, climate, or at elevation...those recommendations go up.

Can you drink too much? Yes. Water toxicity is a condition that can kill you. Can you drink too little? Yes. Dehydration, even at it's mildest state causes headaches and fatigue. Take it too far and that heart of yours requiring 73% water, can't function. This will kill you too.

This is why athletes carry around their gallon jug, and work on that all day long. Larger people need more. Smaller people need less. It kills me when a 120 pound bikini competitor is pushing 3 gallons of water. Protocols for male bodybuilders don't apply to her. (That's another conversation.)

Understanding the basics, let's talk about how much water weighs. A gallon of water weighs eight pounds. Eight. We also take in water through our food, and other beverages we might have. I'm always perplexed at the end of the day when I see people weigh themselves at the gym. I'm presuming they've had plenty of water along with their meals. Not the time to weigh.

When you sweat, or sit in the sauna, or wrap yourself with something to make you are losing water. Just water. Not anything else (like fat). And as soon as you replace the water, your cells will take in what they need to function. Sweating isn't the process by which we burn fat (that too is another conversation).

Our weight fluctuates day to day, during the day, with our hormonal cycles, partially as a result of this weighty issue of water. We are taking some in, expending some, it's a constant balancing act. One of the best things you can do is be consistent with your water intake.

Our bodies like consistency, and our hydration is no exception. Keep that 60% in mind as you work through your day to get your water in. Your body is 60% water. Muscles, 79% We need water. Your climate and activity level are factors to consider in determining how much you should drink.

Now you've gotten your feet wet with the basics of water. Water is your friend. Drink your water.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How To Win At Weight Management

by Kris Pitcher

"If I only had one tenth the discipline you have!"
"I sure admire your commitment."
"How do you stay on track at these meetings?"
"Still bringing all your food, I see."
"Wow! You have will power!"

These are all things I've heard people say over the past few weeks. When I'm in meetings, at conferences, or even in donor visits...people seem to "notice" I'm doing something different. But I haven't always been this way.

There was a time when I carried an extra 45-50 pounds on this 5' 4" frame. And really, more than that because my composition was VERY different. I've been successfully managing my weight for close to 25 years.

What do I have that's different? How am I able to make it "last"? What's my secret? I'll tell you my's twofold:

  • I have clarity in my values
  • I am deeply connected to my goals
The key to your success is thinking about those things, then aligning your actions with those. That's my secret. My secret is out.

I am the only one accountable to my choices. My coach isn't accountable. He won't be standing on stage with me when I get first call out, or last. My colleagues enjoying themselves at happy hour aren't accountable to my values. The world around me isn't responsible for my outcome. I am.

Accepting that accountability comes with the humility that nothing is owed to me. I don't "deserve" wine and pizza. Or ice cream. There's no situation where I've "earned" it. Having a bad day, stress, loss, sadness, happiness, celebration...any of those things. 

Why? Because those things don't align with my values and goals. If I were to make choices which did not align, I would feel "guilt". Or I might feel bad, or whatever feeling goes along with disappointing yourself. I choose to make different choices.

I choose to make choices in direct alignment with my goals and values. This is how I've not only managed my weight over time, but become a national level physique competitor. 

What choices are you making that leave you disappointed? What if you could stop, breathe, and make a different choice? My advice? Do just that. Stop. Breathe. Assess your situation, your moment. And make a choice that aligns with your goals and your values.

Your goals and values are not mine. They belong to you. Find clarity in your values and goals, and you'll find compliance with your plan. You'll find you are not elbow deep in a bag of chips drinking an entire bottle of wine because you had a stressful week.

I'm good at it because I have practiced it every single day for the past 25 years. Every day. Stop and breathe. Find clarity and get connected. Practice, and you will get better. 

Your goals are waiting for you to win! 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Hitting the NPC Stage, What Do You Expect?

by Kris Pitcher

I go into each prep, and off season for that matter, with expectations. When I consider what these expectations are, they are inherently internal.

Internal meaning, focused on what I will do, on what I control, and on what I affect. My expectations are around my behaviors, my actions, my reactions, and my input. This is successful. It puts my "expectation" energy focusing on things I impact. These are things I am accountable to.

Each season, I experience the "disappointed client". It's often someone who looks honestly amazing, and has done very well. I can see it 10 weeks out. And this is how it usually goes:

  • It's my very first time, but I expect to win overall.
  • I don't feel like I'm going to be ready in time, but if I don't win my class, I'll be so upset.
  • I know Angelica just won bikini at the Arnold, I expect to look like her in 5 weeks, is that possible?
  • Honestly, if I win 3rd place, I'm going to be crushed.
I have found first time competitors are often filled with expectations that might not be either internal, or realistic in any way. And it's difficult to know what you should expect when you've never done something.

We see and watch people much better than us on social media, and they seem so accessible, it's like we're training together. So, naturally...I should expect to place first just like them. Not naturally. In fact, not at all.

Putting your expectations around where you'll place, or who will be there, is lost energy. No one controls that. The girl you are stalking on IG may not even make it to the show. She might get sick, hurt, have a family emergency, or quit. Why worry about her. Worry about you.

Comparing yourself clouds your expectations.So if you are trying to figure out who will be at your show, and place yourself (first) among them it's wasted energy. And external expectations.

How do you focus your expectations internally? You focus on what you're doing. You focus on your plan, your nutrition, making your improvements. 

It seems relatively narcissistic to expect you will win overall at your first ever show. I'm not diminishing your physique, drive, or ability. However, you are one of many talented athletes. One.

Respecting the work others have done is called humility. I'm not impressing you should think anything other than, "I am a winner and I will be placed center stage," when you step on stage. You should! We all prep for first place. I'm talking about our expectations, and the aftermath of the reality only one of us will in fact be placed first. One.

For me, when I step on stage I already have a plan for improvement and my brain is thinking forward. The show is one stop in the cycle of the sport. It's not my end point, and that perspective helps guide my expectations. I've watched really good athletes disappear in this sport because they did not win overall in their first ever show...and it wrecked them.

I encourage you to sit down with your expectations and think about what you are setting yourself up for. Are you setting yourself up to shine in your moment and get back to the drawing board? Or, are you setting yourself up for complete and unnecessary devastation? 

Only you can control your experience in the sport, or in this life. Set your expectations accordingly. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Best Prep Clients, Are You Coach-able?

by Kris Pitcher

I've experienced plenty of clients looking for a new coach. Sometimes people come to you from another coach, and sometimes people leave you for someone else.

Now, there is nothing wrong with experiencing different approaches, learning from a variety of people, and looking for the right fit with a coach. If however, you chronically find yourself on the hunt for the next best thing...ask yourself, are you coach-able?

What does it mean to be coach-able? Here are some key indicators you can be coached to a high level (aka. you are a GREAT client):

  1. You can take constructive criticism: Let's face it, we all have inadequacies, imbalances, and weak points. Being able to hear honest feedback about those, in a constructive way, is important to your success. It's also important to setting expectations.
  2. You can follow your plan: Your plan is not a guideline or suggestion. It is your plan. Following it ensures the input-output assessment by your coach. It is how we create "control" within the process. When you only kind of follow it, we only kind of have any clue what is going on with your changes...or lack of. 
  3. You can take direction: Your coach has a background in nutrition and exercise science. There is a reason for each directive you are given. Some clients want to know the reasons behind each, and it's my opinion that knowledge creates compliance. 
  4. You have trust in your adviser: You need to be able to trust your coach has the insight to guide you. If you don't hold that trust, it's not the right fit. Often, it's a matter of communication and knowledge sharing. 
  5. You can communicate: Being coach-able means you can engage in two-way communication with your coach. If they ask you for a check-in...provide it. The more "input" you are able to provide the greater your success in your relationship with your coach.
  6. You are accountable: This is critical to your success. You will be the only one on stage with your decisions. Your coach will guide and direct you providing the best plan possible, and it's up to you to do it. No coach can do the work for you. No coach can promise you a certain placing. You are accountable ultimately.  
Being open to creativity, to different ways of doing things, and to drilling down on a method all play into your success as a coach-able client. There are lots of coaches each with their own set of skills, ideas and methods.

A great coach listens to you, builds your plan around your needs, is able to apply a multitude of methods, and communicates why you are doing certain things. They are able to be positive, constructive, and honest with you. Your coach should be professional, objective, and detail oriented.

I've had the benefit of amazing mentors and coaches both personally and professionally. It makes all the difference in just how coach-able I am. They have shown me not only how coach-able I am, but also how to be a great coach and mentor to others.

Monday, February 6, 2017

When Panic Sets In, Will I Be Ready In Time?

by Kris Pitcher

Things in life aren't necessarily linear. At just ten weeks from our first regional spring is the time competitors begin to panic, "Will I be ready!"

Competitors begin to wonder if their coach has the skill set to get them to the stage. In some cases they do, and in other cases not so much. Competitors managing their own nutrition begin to question what they are doing, what they know, and how to filter the plethora of information coming at them from all angles.

Rightfully so. On all accounts. But here's the thing...none of this is linear. Change is cumulative and happens in small increments. Sometimes those changes are so small, we aren't able to see them in ourselves, or measure them.

Changes are still happening. Now is the time to trust the process. A phrase everyone cringes over. Trust your coach. Unless they are a complete and total fraud, your coach should be able to get you there.

I'm transparent in there are many ways to get someone ready for competition. There is no "one" way, or "right" way. So now is the time to trust how your coach is guiding you...or, if your gut tells you differently, seek out someone who is a better fit. I'm not a fan of jumping mid stream.

Usually, communication will clear up anything you feel you're not getting. That's up to you. Your role is to relax, do the work, eat the plan, communicate, and settle in. Ten weeks is 10 weeks. You won't look ready today. That's not how this works.

Will you be ready? Probably. If you aren't ready guess what, there is always another show on the calendar. If you thought you needed 16 weeks, and in reality you need 20...your timeline just got a little longer and you and your coach look for another show. Easy.

Don't panic. Settle in for the long haul and trust this process. You'll be ready when you're ready.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Why Your Environment Creates Your Success

by Kris Pitcher

If I have a TV I'm going to watch it. If I have a book, but no TV, I'm going to read. When I have a book and a TV...I'm forced to choose. And I'm lazy, and I grew up in the 70' & 80's. I'm going to watch TV. Hands down.

Turns out I love both. I enjoy reading just as much as I enjoy TV. It's the choice that's agonizing. I am agonized by the decision. What if I make the wrong choice? What if people think I'm smarter for reading the book? Or if they think I'm missing out for not seeing that series on TV? What if they think I'm weak? Can I be trusted to make the right decision?

You're wondering why this is such a big deal. The deal is, food choices are a lot the same. When we have to choose it's difficult. Lots have strayed from those resolutions made upon ringing in the New Year (earlier this month). And many are waiting for just the right time to actually face the choices.

What I've found is, it's much easier when you are in a controlled environment. For example, I am enjoying my Alaskan visit in my cozy apartment above the shop...WITH NO TV!

This would send most running. Compounded with the fact that Sprint doesn't serve Alaska...I'm a little off the digital grid up here. Controlled environment. It means I'm enjoying my book, very much.

The key is a controlled environment ensuring the choices you intend to make are easy to make. By surrounding yourself with the things that are on your plan, you will automatically make the right choice.

We take that further through organization. When we plan and organize our day, our meals, we will be that much more successful. We organize our space in our kitchen to make the priority items readily available. And guess what? Our choices are right there for us.

We aren't faced with the constant agony over the decision process. This is where the success comes from. There's no guilt from a choice that doesn't align with your goals when you surround yourself with all the things that will make you successful.

I'm not any better at this than anyone else. I don't have "will power" of some super hero. I don't want it any more than the next guy. I've created an environment where I will be successful. Success is my only choice.

My suggestion is to simplify. Create the environment where your only choice is success. Change is change. We need to remove things, and replace them with something else.

I'm not just sitting here in the dark with no TV. I'm sitting here enjoying my book. Think about the choices you are agonizing over. Think about the changes you would like to make. Then begin to create the environment where your only option will be in support of your goals. This is where success happens.

Friday, January 27, 2017

My First At Home Workout, Finding My Right Now

by Kris Pitcher

I'm no dummy. I go to the gym for my workouts because I KNOW I won't do it at home. Now, cardio is off the table in this discussion. That happens right in my living room. Where else would you keep your stair master?

But I have the luxury of a bad situation prompting me to do something I should have done a long time ago. Visit my sister in Alaska. Waking in my own little apartment above the shop, I discover my very own at home workout.

Turns out the stair master mimics...actual stairs! My fasted cardio was glute focused stair work. Up. Down. Up. Down. And so on, and so on. It felt different than my machine. And it also winded me. I didn't have the machine setting my pace. I had to do that on my own. Success!

As I got into my rhythm it dawned on me, it takes a different level of commitment and motivation to make this happen at home. With countless diversions I can be the Queen of procrastination. Later never does come, does it?

After my cardio I got out my band and my TRX. It was time to get creative. Since my glutes were already "awake" I decided to keep working them.

In a ceremonial fashion, I put a towel down on the area rug (in what is my mother's quilting studio). I resurrected my memories of leading group exercise. I recalled the days when my participants would moan, groan and curse my instruction.

I continued to "activate" my glutes in a variety of ways, and positions until I could only curse myself. Then I was off to the TRX. This is an amazing tool. I did some additional "bridge" work along with some bridge abduction work.

Frankly, I was pretty pleased with myself. Not for my creativity, or for recalling the floor exercises, or not actually cursing myself...but for simply doing it. At home.

I could have waited. I could have put it off until maybe we visited my sister's gym. But later doesn't come. We only have our right now. That's why I'm here visiting. Right now.

We can't put things off. Procrastination doesn't serve us. Doing the things we don't want to do because they are hard, or scary, or require change isn't an option. Waiting until something is comfortable means never. Because things are never comfortable.

For all you doing your workouts at home, I have a new understanding and respect for the level of motivation that requires. I'm energized by what creativity I'll find in my at home workouts over the next few days.

Think about the things in your life you might be putting off. What is keeping you from moving forward? Take one step toward action toward them. We really only have our right now. Find yours!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, My Sister Has What?

by Kris Pitcher

While instant messages were circulating facebook with instructions to post a heart, then IM friends who would also post a a silent movement of support for breast cancer, my family was navigating the news my sister has breast cancer. My big sister, has cancer.

We have history of cancer in our family. So you expect to hear news about relatives...distant relatives. You don't expect to hear "cancer" and "sister" in the same breath. Yet, so it is. She has a slow growing, treatable, yet messy in terms of shape, situation.

My big sis, Megan
She has a resilient and positive spirit. She also gets sh*t done. She has navigated her medical care, received second opinions, done countless tests, and next is her first round of treatment. Today she'll undergo surgery.

Her husband is an amazing rock of a man, and together they've done lots of hard things. You know me, I tell you, "Hard things are hard." It's true. Hard things are hard, and this is no exception.

What's remarkable to me is the way she has chosen to see and tackle this. I hear a lot of whining from people in a variety of different settings. Why is this happening to me? Life is unfair? I can't do this? Why can't I eat cupcakes? I want to quit? Nobody likes me? Waaaa!

Guess what? There's no time for any of that when you are faced with this kind of reality. You gather information, and you get it done. And you get it done with hope, light, confidence, happiness, a sense of control, determination, and you surround yourself with knowledge and support.

You can cover your head and be a victim surrendering to your "fate". OR, you can face things head on with a positive attitude of hope and success. You can choose to be happy, informed, and in control.

She is committed to doing everything in her power to control her environment, her nutrition, her activity up to and in her future. And her sense of determination is like no other.

I wish her love, light, and success today as she tackles this step in her treatment. Moving forward, you take one piece of information at a time, and make decisions based on what you know. You learn, you immerse face your right now.

Face your reality, control your environment, commit to whatever it might take to tackle things, choose support, knowledge and happiness. And love and light will surround you too.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What Does It Cost to Compete?

by Kris Pitcher

The physique competition industry is thriving. With the addition of new divisions there is an access point to almost anyone who's even a little bit fit. Lots of people are interested in hitting the stage and here are some considerations to make before you decide this sport is for you.

There is a cost associated with this hobby. My husband and I share some pretty expensive, scuba diving, motorcycling, skiing (although this one has fallen by the wayside). Other people like to golf, or quilt, or scrapbook. All of those things cost money. So does competing.

What can you plan on? You can plan on spending 16, or more, weeks getting ready. Your expenses might include:

  • Gym membership
  • Food - although I hope you were planning to eat anyway
  • Supplements - some you need, some you don't
  • Membership in your organization - NPC $125/annually
  • Contest registration - $75-$100
  • Shoes - ladies, $40
  • Suit - guys are looking at $60+, and ladies...$150+ (up to as much as you want to spend)
  • Accessories - $40+
  • Tanning - competition tanning $100
  • Hair/Makeup - $100-$150
  • Travel/hotel/gas - if your show is more than 45 minutes from home, you may want to get a room
Now, we're looking at about $600 plus food, and your gym membership. Here's the piece people miss. Professional guidance - a prep coach. This costs money as well. I have a coach. My coach has a coach. And his coach...has a coach.

Hiring a coach all depends on the experience you want to have. That's up to you. You can piece information together on your own, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I don't clean my own teeth, cut/color my own hair, or conduct my own medical exams. I hire professionals for those things.

Here's what we don't spend money on: I don't get my nails done, we don't buy coffee out, we rarely go out to the movies, we eat at home and pack all our meals, I color my hair right before my show (not every 6 weeks), we don't have $600 phones, we don't have cable TV, we don't buy alcohol, I don't buy new clothes every month/week, and we don't live above our means. Why? We do those things so we can concentrate on competing at a high level.

Competing is not for everyone. It's especially not when you can't afford to. Sometimes we need to save for our dreams, sacrifice for them, or give other things up. It's all dependent on our priorities.

There is no right or wrong. Just, "what do you want?" My sense is people rush into thinking they want to compete without really looking at the cost. No hobby should make you go broke, jeopardize your rent, or make your kids go without.

Timing in life is important. If now is not the time, work toward it. Knowing the costs associated with your dreams helps you map out your plan. And that's the cost to compete!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Plant Based Protein

by Kris Pitcher

What's trending this year in the nutrition world? Plant based protein. Whether you are vegetarian, want to decrease the amount of meat you eat, or are just looking to increase your fiber intake, there are benefits to looking at plant based protein.

The key with protein, especially for the competitor, is getting complete protein. Recall proteins are made of amino acids. There are 22 amino acids, 8 of which are "essential" - meaning we need to get them from our diet. Our body can make the rest. Amazing!

Who cares? Well, amino acids are our building blocks. We need them for effective building and repair. But let's get back to the point here.

What is plant based protein? It's protein derived from plant, vs. animal sources. I'm not here to tell you your values around your food choices. That's up to you. One big advantage to plant based protein is fiber.

Fiber is like magic. Fiber makes us feel full. It moves everything through our system. It's even thought to prevent certain cancers, and aid in fat loss. Fiber is good.

Good sources of plant based protein include the legume family. Those are your lentils, beans, peas, all kinds of beans...yellow, black, red, fava...

Other great sources are broccoli, and green leafy vegetables. Then there are the seeds - chia, hemp, almonds, walnuts. And don't forget your unsweetened raw cacao powder - there's protein in there too.

The great challenge for anyone on a competitor's eating plan is, these plant based sources also contain carbohydrates and some contain fats. Knowing the full spectrum of the nutrient profile is critical to working them in your plan.

For general population, creating a plan including plant based proteins is a little bit easier. Either way, it simply requires knowing your numbers and being able to do some math. Life is like that.

Here are a few examples:

  • Broccoli - 1 C = 8.1 gm protein
  • Quinoa - 1/2 C = 14 gm protein (20 gm carbs)
  • Leafy greens - 2 C = 2.1 gm protein
  • Raw cacao - 1 T = 1 gm protein
  • Lentils - 1 C = 18 gm protein (39 gm carbs)
  • Black beans - 1 C = 15 gm protein (41 gm carbs)
The key is knowing the nutrients and working them into your total plan. Nutrition is about values. Sure, the numerical values, but also about your personal values around what you eat. Building a successful plan for someone means listening to those values and creating a plan for success.

If you'd like help with your plan, let me know. Find me at and we can build plant based proteins into your successful plan! And that's what's trending. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Team Pitcher's New Addition: Your Contest Prep Coach, Kris

by Kris Pitcher

2016 was a great year. It was a year of accomplishment personally and professionally. I met my goal of competing at the highest level within the NPC. I brought a package better than the previous year. I excelled in my professional job, contributing to one of the highest performing teams in the country.

One personal accomplishment I've kept under the radar is...I became a Certified Personal Trainer. I've been connected to the health and fitness industry for more than 20 years. I worked full time in the industry for 11 years and made the choice to take my career in a different direction 10 years ago.

It was at that time I allowed my ACSM and ACE certifications to go. It was a painstaking decision. But certifications are expensive to maintain when you aren't using them. My thirst for knowledge never left, nor my love of the industry.

Ironically, it was at that time I was able to focus on my personal fitness taking my competitive pursuits to the National level. Ten years later I'm more ingrained in the competitive field both locally and nationally. The time had come.

I wanted to be able to legitimately take on my own clients. This meant gaining certification, renewing my CPR/First Aid, and getting insurance. I accomplished those things the second half of this year. Now it's time for some fun.

I'll take on a selective load of clients both long distance and locally. Whether the goal is weight management, a healthy pregnancy, strengthening prior to a knee replacement, or competing...I can help you get where you want to go.

Nutritional science is my background and has been a personal interest and area of personal growth for me for over 25 years. It's where the magic happens.

There you have it! My secret is out. I'm looking forward to 2017, a year of growth for Team Pitcher. And another year of growth for me personally and professionally. You can visit Team Pitcher to contact me, or to learn more.