Monthly Archives: November 2010

Get Fab Abs: Part 1

Kymberly Wiliams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit:
What is the best exercise to work on your abs? Yvette
What are the best exercises for toning abs? Sally
What’s the most important move to do for lower abs? Michelle

Kymberly: Ladies, ladies, no crowding, pushing, shoving, and belly poking. We will get to your Fab-ulous Ab-ulous questions in one bulk package. We love questions that have the word “best” in them because they are so easy to answer. The “best” exercises are the ones you will shoo-be-doo-be-do.

Another way to determine the “best” ab exercises is to know your goal. We know, we know: “look hot.” Let’s pretend that your goal includes working as many ab muscles at once as possible AND enhancing ab function. Then you want to choose exercises that recruit the rectus abdominis (the abs that offer the 6-pack look and flex your spine), the transversus (the abs that remind you of 1980’s cumberbunds that guys wore at weddings–they stabilize and compress you), and the obliques (the diagonal muscles that wrap around your waist like a girdle and rotate, flex, and extend you). It helps to know some ab anatomy, so read this article. Quiz at 11:00.

Therefore I like a pack o’ 3 that includes something that 1) stabilizes, 2) rotates, and 3) focuses on bringing lower fibers into play. Three related questions from our belle-beauties; three suggested ab moves.
1) reverse curl (aka “reverse crunch”): works from the bottom up, requires compression, targets the area most people want to look better (ie, below the navel vs above it), gets lots of oblique and rectus abdominis activity.

2) obliques bicycle rotational maneuver: unless you are kicking your legs around as if doing lying down kickboxing or throwing a temper tantrum, this move involves all ab muscles in a big way and helps define the waist.

3) plank (aka “hover”): requires compression and stabilization and is most like the way we use our abs to help with posture. An American Council on Exercise study has photos and more info on each of these moves. Ok, ok, so the study was done waaaaay back in 2001. Last I checked, our ab anatomy had not changed since then.

Alexandra:For me, the most important move for all my abdominals is to eat less and better. And that does not include any chocolate-covered bugs,

It's still a bug!

although I am a fan of the Supine Dead Bug.

Photo: ACE Fitness

K: Do you notice what is NOT on my top three list? Yeah baby–stoopid crunches. Crunch, crunch, crunch. How much do you need the ability to flex forward? Not much going on with compression or rotation; not a lot of transversus action; not a move usually performed well; not an action needed a lot in daily life. (More on crunches in the upcoming Get Fab Abs: Part 2).

A: Nor is Captain Crunch. Or Crunch Berries. Maybe not Yo-Crunch either. I’ll have to think about it while I finish the one I just opened.

It's yogurt. It's Candy. It's So Wrong

Which I’m sure has a very low number of useless kcals and won’t hide my chiseled (with a pick-axe…or ice cream scooper) abs under a layer of adipose tissue (okay, that means “fat”). Crunch-a-Tize me, Cap’n!

Crunch My Berries, Cap'n

Dear Readers who have Abs: Well, are you actually going to try the 3 exercises above? What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

Photo credits: Creative Commons


TV Tells Us to “Get Off Our Keesters”

Kymberly Williams-Evans,MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: We’d like to pose our own question this week. Yours remotely, Fun and Fit, USA

Alexandra: Can watching TV make you more fit? Watch and learn, grasshopper. Watch and learn.

Watching You Watching Me

Or don’t, because watching TV really can’t do a thing for your hops, jumps or skips. But there sure are a lot of interesting show titles that almost make you want to get off your keester and kick some booty!

Too Much TV = Too Much Keester

Kymberly was left unsupervised with the remote control, and look what happened!

Kymberly: TV is sending us healthy messages, which we at Fun and Fit have decoded for you. TV show titles are  bold, just like us.

Are you 30 Pounds Overweight, want to Relieve Joint Aches or get rid of your Underbelly? You cry out that you want to Lose Inches Off Your Body, though not 300 because you feel Size Matters?! Yes, manly men, you can go from Two and A Half Men (when you should be just one) to Iron Man; from being Easy Prey and The Walking Dead to The Brave One or The Incredible Hulk. Women-personages, time to Stop Your Anxiety and become a DIY Dominator at any age — whether you’re in the Wonder Years, the Girls Gone Wild crowd, or one of The Golden Girls.

What is the The Law of Success? Do you ask yourself “How do I Run My Renovation and Sleep in Comfort?” Stay tuned for the answers next season.

A: Actually, the truth is that I whacked myself in the head today because I forgot to pay attention to the basics of car door-shutting mechanics, so am giving the heavy lifting of this post over to you, dear readers. Here are some more honest-to-gawd, dang me if these aren’t actual titles of TV shows. Your mission, if you decided to accept it, is to make up funny descriptions to go with the titles. No fair using the actual descriptions; yours will be more interesting anyway! Have at it. Once I’ve recovered from my bloody head pity party, we’ll read your comments and laugh ourselves silly. Oh, wait, we already are silly. So, we’ll laugh ourselves into Fits!

1962 TV Set

Healing Foods
Back Pain Solved
Shop Erotic
Anti-Aging Secrets
Best Bra Ever
Carve Abs in Bed
Zumba Dance
The Karate Kid
How to Train Your Dragon
Sports Country
Outrageous Foods
Drink Up
Rise of a Warrior
I Survived
Cardio Fitness
Whacked Out Sports

Forget TV - Beat Up Your Brother Instead

Photo credits: Creative Commons


Test Your Fitness Funny Bone

In honor of the quiz that Alexandra is giving today to her university students, we thought we’d share the fizzy quizzy fun and ask all of you, our dear readers, a few questions. Feel free to post your answers in the comments section, as this blog is Pass/Fail and no-one has failed yet (except spammers). As we are helpful and generous, we may or may not provide hints and clues, spattered about like hot little spetters (Dutch for “splashes”) of bacon!

Oh, so Minnieous Mousieous

1. Which part of the body comes in three Disney flavors: The Maximus, Minnieous and Mousieous (aka maxiumus, medius and minimus)?

Your Ass?

2. Who tends to reduce muscle mass by 1/3 and lose 12-14% of their strength by age 60?

Not a day over 60!

3. Slower and longer cardio exercise leads to more relative fat than carbos burned (as a percentage of energy used) ; faster and shorter cardio leads to more calories burned (per minute; not necessarily overall), as an absolute number. What does slower and shorter lead to?

That is not exercise!

4. What’s one of the best ways to save over $500 per annum?

Drop and give me 40


5. There are five diabetes-reducing healthy behaviors that are under your control. The first four are: Walk (or comparable activity) at least 30 minutes per day, Eat a diet with reduced trans-and saturated fats, Drink alcohol in moderation, and Don’t smoke. What is the fifth?

Sleep, my pretty

Well, how did you do? Are you now all whipped into shape?

Snap Crackle Whip

Thank you, and we hope we passed the audition!. Now get out there and kick some girly ass!

Whip your Ass, Fools

Photo credits: Creative Commons


Can My House Make Me Fit?

Dear Fun and Fit:

What in a person’s home may or may not make that person engage in a more fit lifestyle? Do you think that the way someone’s house is laid out, how much furniture they have, how it’s arranged, type of flooring, and whether or not they have a dedicated “exercise room” has anything to do with whether or not they embrace fitness and wellness?
Tammy, Oakland Park, FL

Austin Powers, you make me feel randy

Why do I have the image of Austin Powers and his rotating round bed stuck in my head? All that spinning would make me nauseous, not fit! While I contemplate the advantages of a ceiling mirror, let me tell you the one most effective thing you can have in your house when it comes to exercise – did you guess a home gym? If so, you’re wrong. It’s stairs.

Choosing hardwood (or tile/linoleum) over carpet is a good idea too. Sweeping and mopping will burn more kcals than vacuuming, but in our experience you are also more likely to work out or dance on hardwood. (Okay, I just gave away my secret cleaning technique. Yes, I dance with my broom and mop to Led Zeppelin. Doesn’t everyone?)

Robert, call me!

As to furniture layout, pretend you live in a department store and make it next to impossible to go in a straight line from A to B. Have you ever wondered why department stores set up their floor plan so that you need a compass, hiking boots and a passport to get from lingerie to the Chanel counter? Erm, um, well, they actually do that to make you buy more stuff, but making your home into an obstacle course means you’ll move more (including jumping over the couch).

Bouncy, flouncy, pouncy fun house

Regarding exercise rooms – very few people actually use them. Yes, some of the more dedicated people will, but the average consumer will mostly use it for storage and laundry-hanging after a few months. Sometimes having a dedicated fitness space makes people feel even more guilty.

As to embracing fitness, come here and give me a hug!

Read the tiny writing on her sign!

Readers and homebodies: What in your home enhances or diminishes your plans to be healthy? And what music do you play when you clean?

Photo credits:Creative Commons


Fitness Fact or Fiction – Aaahh, Freak Out!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

QUIZ TIME! How well do you know your Fitness Facts? Yes, it’s time to get your freak on with Fun and Fit, who examine the DARK side of activity this time around. At least one of the following Freak Out Fitness Facts is in fact, not a fact. Sadly, some of them are true. Can you pick out the fiction?

1) Adults and children spend an average of 70% of their awake time sitting (driving, eating, watching tv, reading, working at a computer, playing video games).

2) Kymberly is sitting now, being sedentary and adding to the dismal stats about sitting and butt parking. Oh, Meow!

3) The average woman adds 10 pounds of fat every decade.

4) Our readers are not average and therefore are bucking the fat gain stats.

5) Sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950; Physically active jobs now make up only about 25% of our workforce. That is 50% less than 1950.

6) Alexandra is way more fit than Kymberly.

Alexandra doing a back bend

Kymberly almost worked out

7) Eighty percent of midlife women (age 40 to 60) have one or more heart disease risk factors.

You better have said “number 6.” Or else……

Let’s end our time together today boys and girls with a few Fun Fit Facts….or Fiction???!! Can you pick out the Fun Fit Facts that do not belong?

1) Just five minutes of “green exercise” – cycling, gardening, fishing, or other outdoor activities – can enhance your mood and self esteem.

2) Exercise can improve your brainpower .

3) Fun and Fit are brainiacs beyond belief, partly because they work out regularly.

4) Studies show that for every hour of walking, life expectancy may increase by two hours.

What the heck??!! Did you think number 3 was the fiction? No way; that is solid fact. In fact, all of the Fun Fit Facts are TRUE. Motivated yet to at least go take a walk? 

Now, where did I put my high-heeled exercise shoes & fitness mini?

Photo Credits: Creative Commons & Photobucket


Eating Pre- and Post-Workout

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams-Evans, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: What should we eat before and after a workout? (there are loads of different stories about it).

Hanna, Mooncoin, Ireland

What’s the best thing to consume BEFORE a workout? And how long should you wait after eating before hitting the gym for maximum performance and gain?

Mary, Holland, Michigan

A: Hanna and Mary, have you two met? Similar question – different countries. Destined to meet and eat. Before and after a workout you should eat…wait for it…food. Healthful food. Stand back, experts at work. Dare I say carbohydrates and protein? In an excellent article, Jenna Bell-Wilson, PhD, RD, LD (this all means she’s an official expert) gives more complete details, but here are some carb/protein combo nuggets of info for you (no chickens were harmed in the making of our nuggets):

whole-grain toast and peanut butter
orange and cottage cheese
yogurt and granola
nuts and apple
hard-boiled egg and wheat bagel
chicken breast (still not a nugget) and rice
string cheese and pretzels

If you are looking for the donut and coffee combo, I’ll just tell you now, it ain’t going to happen. We would never recommend such a combo (although a certain twin who is NOT Alexandra would consider consuming it.

K: Hold on. I don’t drink coffee. Gee, what kind of aspersions are you casting about, twin who is NOT mine. As for the aspect of timing your food and workouts, the best answer is to listen to your own body. Mine tells me to skip the coffee and donuts – so there! – but to eat for sure. In fact, I am one of those hearty sorts who can exercise intensely five minutes after eating, no prob.  In general, though, time your workouts according to your meal size. If you eat a large meal — of carbs and protein — wait two to four hours before intensely exercising. If you want to work out sooner after you eat, then chow down on a smaller meal and wait about an hour or two. The Mayo Clinic further suggests that you eat protein and carbs within two hours post-workout.

But you know what? I live in the practical, real world. If I want to work out in the morning, I for sure want to eat brekkie first. But I am not going to wait until midday – three or four hours post brekkie – to get a’ goin’. Nor am I going to wake up at “too early stupid o’clock” to eat at 4:10am to be able to catch an 8:00am class. Remember the big picture: eat when you are hungry; be active as much as you can; focus on carbs and protein pre- and post-workout. Ta da!

A: Here’s what I always tell my students at the U–the closer it is to the ground, the better it is for you. The best workout food is grown, not processed into a foodlike substance (as Michael Pollan calls it).

So this: yes

And this: no

K: Dear regular fit people (not high-level, competitive athletes):  in case you are busy timing and planning your food and exercise, let me sum up the relevant portion of the article my sis recommended. “…consume a balanced snack 2–3 hours prior to exercise and … consume a carbohydrate- and protein-containing snack or meal following the session to help (you) advance (your) workout, enhance (your) glycogen stores and recover successfully.”
Please pass the box of chocolates.

Readers: What are your hot tips on what and when to eat relative to your workouts. And don’t tell us anything boring or we’ll drown our boredom in a donut.

Photo credits: Creative Common


Hot Tub: Warm Muscles

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: I like to warm up my muscles in a jacuzzi before my swim workout. Is it okay to stretch under this scenario? Claire, Goleta, CA

Kymberly: Wow! How big is your jacuzzi that you can stretch out in it and then take a swim? Can we come party at your place? With a few…….. hundred fitness pals? If so, then my answer is whatever you want it to be.

Alexandra: Warm up as in “Boy, that lobster in the pot sure has a surprise coming?” Are you asking if it’s okay to stretch after the jacuzzi dunking but before the pool swimming? One school of fish thought says that it actually doesn’t matter if you do the jacuzzi or the pool first; you’ll gain in flexibility in either case. The determining factor is the type of stretching. (Did you know flexibility came in choices – stretchy, super stretchy & Gumby?) There is some evidence that immersing yourself in a nice cold pool (by which I mean icy) can help with flexibility and muscle soreness after an intense workout, but I suspect this is not your plan! The American Council on Exercise likes your plan, though, so we give it the pool toy of approval. They recommend “doing a few stretches immediately after a shower or while soaking in a hot tub. The hot water elevates body and muscle temperature enough to make them more receptive to stretching.”


Make sense? In translation, I just said you should pretend your muscles are modeling clay (Gumby’s baaaack). If they’re warm, your muscles can do all kinds of bendy, pliable type moves. But take that clay straight from the fridge and brrrrrr, snap. Torn muscle. All in all, looks like you are okay to keep doing what you’ve been doing, which is good as you probably would have ignored our advice if we said no anyway!

K: I will add one key “ahoy matey” warning. Soaking in a hot tub tends to dehydrate a person. Swimming can do the same. So drink water before and after you swim, and not from the pool or hot tub YUCK! Ewwwww.

Readers and jacuzzi lovers: What has been your experience? Does a lovely warm soak help you stretch or just make you want to stretch out on the chaise longue (and yes, this is spelled correctly) and relax?

Photo credits: Photobucket


Animal Desire

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

We often get asked whether our pets are as fit as we are. Maybe… How are you defining “fit?” So in a departure from our usual format, we focus our experienced laser beam on the pet world this week. In fairness to our exercising animal companions, Fun and Fit present SOLID, DOCUMENTED proof that animals love to move and be active. One thing we learned, they enjoy yoga moves and incorporate them into their daily regimen. Let’s take our example from our fab felines and caring canines. They consistently exercise and reap the benefits that intense workouts bring.

Caturanga Pose
What can we say. Bella has reached nirvana as she salutes the sun and welcomes the asanas ahead. So active; so devoted; so inspiring!

Bella mastering the look and feel of the Caturanga asana

Down Dog
Chloe loves her yoga practice and is getting really good. She was able to hold this pose for half an hour.

Great extension from Chloe practicing the Down Dog for her yoga class

Up Dog
To novices this may look a lot like the Down Dog pose, but yoginis and discerning readers can see that Chloe has elevated herself to the “up” level of enlightenment.

Chloe wants to finish strong with the Up Dog pose

Puss-in-BootCamp Pose
Carrot is getting ready to rock it at Puss-in-BootCamp. Just thinking about the exciting workout ahead gets her super fired up!

Carrot prepping for Puss-in-BootCamp

Catboxing Workout
After an intense hour of kicking, biting, scratching, and clawing his way through his CatBoxing class, Zorro is ready to check his heart rate. He knows he put it all out on the exercise floor.

Zorro takes a quick break from his CatBoxing class

Max Tracks with TRX

Max knows how to throw his body weight around when he suits up for his TRX workout. Long tail for balance; great alignment and focus; sleek workout gear. He knows what it takes to reach his resistance training goals.

Max Tracks TRX

So there you have it: the motivation and inspiration you need to get your tail a’ waggin’ and your fur all fluffed. Now get out there and have some workout fun people!

Legal disclaimer and nod to pet lover advocates: No animals were exercised in the making of this post.

Readers: What exercises and workout classes do your pets love? If you’re going to claim it, better prove it! Oh Meow!

From reader Kathleen: See her comment below. Admire her cat, Bailey right here!

Bailey doing spider curl-ups.

Bailey getting ready for her whirlpool bath.