Archive

Monthly Archives: January 2011
9

Want Washboard Abs? 1 6-Pack to Go!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear K & A,

I am a reasonably fit 50ish man. While good genes have kept me from exhibiting some of the signs of middle age, I would like to firm up my abs a little. By that, I mean I want a 6 pack. I want old women to do their laundry on my abs. For that matter, I want young women to do their laundry on my abs. Accomplish that, and I’ll kiss you both on the lips. But since a six pack seems unlikely, I’ll settle for getting my abs to the point that my wife doesn’t rub my belly and make a wish. What should I do? If you tell me that the answer is to have sex twice a day, I’ll kiss you both on the lips again.

David, Vevey, Switzerland

washboard abs, 6 pack abs

Do Your Laundry on This

Alexandra: Gosh, David, where to start? With your 1-pack or your coded message that we’re supposed to encourage you to frolic with old women, young women and your wife. And what wish is your wife making? And why do we suspect that backbends are involved somehow?

Just Another Abs Workout at the Beach

Kymberly: Excuse me sister of mine (cuz no one else claimed you) but wouldn’t we say David has a 12 pack, more abs for the price of one? David, mein man, check out these incredibly incredible posts we wrote about Flab-you-Less Abs:

Short version in English with subtitles: if you are carrying any extra fat, then get busy…with cardio! You might have the best half dozen pack in the world, but if it’s hidden under a blanket of adipose (fancy name for “fat”) then you need to lose the cover! Then, do what we suggested in the Fab Abs series — often! Let me also add that one of the best ways to define abs is to do upper body strength training with great form. Another ganz fein option is Pilates. Both activities require abdominal compression and activation, which will move you closer to your 6-pack goal. Stop the Belly Rubbing and get on it!

A: Our colleague, Jonathan Ross, wrote a book and used you as his cover model. We actually recommend you get his book as we happen to know that the exercises are kiss-inducing. And a number of them require no equipment, unless you consider your own body to be “equipment.” Mrrrrowww. And best of all, you’ll love his sense of humor. Did you know that abs are fun? Especially if they’re fun-sized!

K: Did you click on those links yet? All you need to know is contained therein so commit! Click, (do more than) Crunch, and Commit! Tiny print label warning: those who want 6-packers need to commit to intense, consistent healthy eating and exercising habits. No way around it.

A: It’s a long way from Switzerland to California just to deliver a kiss. But send us the air tickets and we’ll come to you! Do you like orange, pink or red lipstick best? Anyway, you’ll recognize us by this photo of us engaging our, er, abs…

Get busy burning fat with cardio to uncover your abs. Click To Tweet

Air Tickets, Bitte und S’il Vous Plait

K: Let me translate that for you into Swiss (aka Schweizer Deutsch): Send us air tickets and we’ll come to Switzerland. Personally I’ll be too busy toning my abs on the snowboarding alps to come your way. You’ll be too busy doing laundry anyway. Verstehen?

Readers: Have you experienced a correlation between your abs and kissing?

Photo credits: Photobucket and Fun & Fit

7

Diet Dilemma

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun & Fit:
I noticed you were running a 30-Day Challenge, but I was too late. Maybe the next one. In the meantime, I at least want to start eating better and want your opinion on diets. Which one is best for weight loss?
Kristin
UCSB

Cooking with Twinkies – A Contradiction in Terms

A: My opinion? Well, first of all, “diet” has the word “die” in it. Therefore, I am against all diets in principle. So, please throw away that word and substitute the phrase “eating habits.” Since you’re going to the trash can anyway, please throw away your scale too. Those things really should come with a warning label – “Caution: Use of this machine will cause you to feel bad.”

Anything that has you temporarily changing your habits won’t work. Improving your eating habits in small (or medium, if you’re addicted to cream puffs) increments is the way to permanent change. Keep in mind that a habit is the opposite of temporary.

Just to show you how ridiculous some diets really were, let’s look back in history a bit. In their time they were considered “the bomb,” but time and facts say otherwise. See if you can spot the quackery and “magic pills.”

Tapeworm Diet – In the 1920’s women (and a few men) actually ingested tapeworms in the belief it would cause them to lose weight. Technically, that did occur, but darn those side effects – nausea, infection, abdominal weakness, pain and the knowledge that you’d just eaten a worm! On purpose. Jackass for the 20th Century.

Tapeworm Diet – Two Words that Don’t Go Together

Drinking Man’s Diet – Does that sound like something from the 50s maybe? Close – 1964. Veal and vodka, steak and whiskey, chicken and gin. Sure, for some of you that may sound delicious, but does it sound like a healthy diet plan? Urp.

Calories Don’t Count – Sure, and neither did the years in jail Dr. Taller spent for suckering millions of people into buying his book. Why? Because you had to also buy his vegetable oil pill or it wouldn’t work! Ipso facto, the definition of quack with a magic pill.

Vinegar and Water – Lord Byron popularized this delightful combo back in 1820. All you had to do was sprinkle vinegar on everything. Oops, he forgot to mention that he had an eating disorder.

Cabbage Diet – I won’t say anything besides “Ewwwww. Stinky.”

Do you want that for every meal?

Ketogenic Diet – First of all, it mimics the metabolic effects of fasting. Fasting is not a diet – it is temporary starvation. And what did I say about temporary plans? The Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution in the early 1970s was based on this, as was The Last Chance Diet, which was blamed for the deaths of some of its adherents. Sadly, the “die” in “diet” was for real.

Here’s what you should do – eat a variety of foods. The closer to the ground, the better. The fewer the ingredients you don’t recognize, the better. Eat in moderation. Eat slowly so you’ll know when you’re full. Actually, I’ll make it easy for you (well, actually for me) – read Food Rules by Michael Pollan. Everything you need to know is in there. And I should know – I contributed one of the rules!

And don’t even consider the Twinkie or Cookie diet!

Dear Readers and Eaters: Have you ever tried any unusual diet plans? Do you now have Twinkies stashed in your cupboards?

Photo credits: Photobucket and Alexandra (okay, so I was given that Twinkie “cookbook” as a gag gift. Maybe I should offer it as a prize to one of you!)

12

7 Benefits of Exercise Besides Weight Loss for Women Over 50

Dear Alexandra and Kymberly: What are some benefits of exercise, especially for women over 50? People tell me all the time that movement is good for me for many reasons, but I can only think of one: weight loss.  “Hates to exercise” in Hygiene, Colorado

Good hygiene might not be one of the benefits of exercise

Smelling good is NOT one of the benefits of exercise. Alas…

Great question. And I’d ask about your city, but I lived near there and know it exists! Nevertheless it is a unique name for a town. And I sure am tempted to say, “Hi Jean!”

Quite a few great reasons and more than seven exercise benefits exist. One really popular reason, especially for baby boomers is covered in “Energy: Can a 57 Year Old Have More than a 20 Year Old?”  For now, we’ll start with seven the Mayo Clinic touts, starting with the one you already know:

Benefits of Exercise

  1. Helps manage weight – Forget all that crazy talk pre-printed on cardio machines about fat-burning zones: a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. In a simple sentence that includes a verb, engaging in exercise causes you to burn calories. If you burn them, you aren’t storing them!
  2. Improves mood – decreases stress, helps stave off depression, increases self-esteem and happiness, and is relaxing; all to do with brain chemicals.
  3. Combats chronic diseases – We in the fitness industry have been shouting about this for years. But is anyone listening? Noooooo. Too bad, I’m going to shout it again: most chronic diseases can be prevented or managed with exercise – hypertension, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, colon cancer, abnormal cholesterol levels, stroke, arthritis. While we’re at it, if you’re a smoker, quit smoking! Exercise can help undo the effects of smoking — yeah, once you quit!
Can you name 6 benefits of exercise besides weight loss? Click To Tweet
  1. Boosts energy level – When people say “I’m doing my cardio,” they are secretly talking about Biology 101. The cardiovascular system is more efficient when it’s all “exercised up.” Go Heart! Go Blood Vessels! While we’re here: Go Lungs!
  2. Promotes better sleep – As long as I don’t exercise right before bedtime, I can improve..zzzzzzzzz. snort
  3. Has positive effect on sex life – Women: Hello arousal! Men: Goodbye erectile dysfunction. Nuff said.
  4. Can be fun – Okay, most of the people who live on this planet might wonder about the fun part, but obviously the researchers at the Mayo Clinic are whooping it up!
What is one benefit of exercise that motivates you to move it, move it? Click To Tweet
La Boheme Dancers

Shut Up and Dance

In the end, all you need is the one benefit that will get you motivated to exercise. Any list, no matter how long or short, will be irrelevant unless it resonates with you. And no, “resonate” is not a type of furniture polish!

Dear Readers: If you had to choose one of the benefits from the list above, which one would get you motivated to move?  Need more motivation? Read 7 Top Secret Reasons People Exercise

ACTION: Get many benefits and a bonus when you SUBSCRIBE to our posts. We’ll come to you, dancing and prancing twice a week. Enter your email in any of the provided spots.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

 

 

18

Be Your Body’s Best Friend

Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Readers: It’s halfway through January and some of you are frustrated by the gap between your resolutions and solutions. The other half of you don’t do resolutions and are frustrated more by the fact that it’s a long time until spring break! And the other half of you (this math is taken straight from the calculus textbooks) have given up and are just pissed. Three of you are working out while reading this!

Best Friends Know What’s What

Here’s the deal – it doesn’t matter in the end how much Kymberly and I know–which is a freakin’ lot –about fitness and health and living a quality life, if our information doesn’t make an impact. What really matters is YOU: your choices, your decisions, your actions! Okay, to us, we matter too! But our information can only help you if you help you! Let me tell you a story:I have a dad. Kymberly has a dad. Same guy, now that I think of it. We love our dad. But he can’t walk very well. And when he does walk, it’s with a cane and he goes very sloooooowly. And when he falls, he can’t get himself up. How did this happen? No accident, no disease, no genetic reason, he just formed bad habits over time. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. His life is limited because he didn’t choose to make changes when he could. Now he is ruled by his limitations. All his physical limitations are self-induced. You got that? Every problem he has is due to lifestyle.

We, his daughters the exercise experts, could do nothing to help him because he wasn’t motivated. I love having my dad’s genetics, because I can stay healthy my whole life as long as I exercise and eat right (almost) every day until I die. That’s all there is to it. That’s the big secret. I am genetically built to have a great quality of life.

NOT choosing to take care of your health IS making a choice. If you always put off taking that one small step, you are choosing the path of bad habits. Take a look at this hysterical video my mom sent along:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N1Im1xbjWQ&feature=player_embedded#!

It has nothing to do with health or fitness, but it explains why I’m about to say

PEOPLE, DON’T BE STUPID!

Don’t wait until you’re in a wheelchair or can’t get up or your doctor says your obesity is the cause of your health problems. Those drastic conditions are created by thousands of small poor choices. Being healthy isn’t about drastic changes either; it’s about small good choices. Lot’s of good choices.

So what’s it going to be? What can you do TODAY? What is ONE THING you can do? Only YOU have to live in your body. YOU control its destiny. It’s YOUR job to be its best friend. Be a good best friend. And we are there to help.

Best Friends Will Jump With You

Thank you to all who have signed up for our 30-Day Fitness Challenge. We are honored to be your partners in this journey. I am especially excited because most of my journeys involve road trips with Kymberly and we know how much she can talk! And she ALWAYS remembers her back-seat driver’s license!

In honor of the great body your parents gave you at birth, we’d love to know what you are doing today to be a friend to your body.

8

New Year = New You Fitness Challenge

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: It’s more than ten days into the new year and I’m still not back into a workout routine after the holiday bliss (read: I haven’t worked out in over a month). I’m having a hard time getting motivated to get up and go to the gym (as I eat my bowl of chocolate ice cream). If I get to the gym or take my morning walk I can get in the Zen. What should I do?

Bill, Los Angeles, CA

Waiting for Fun & Fit to call w/Advice

Alexandra: You and several million other people struggle with this exact same issue. Soooo….it would seem to be the right time to mention that what you are referring to as “zen,” we would call a habit. You are talking about motivation, nutrition and a workout routine, all of which are important aspects to a healthy lifestyle.

This is the time of year when people get really frustrated. All those resolutions or previous good habits turn into a big ol’ bucket of self-recriminations. For the quick and easy answer to all your life’s questions (yes, every one of them – as long as you never ask another question in your life!) take a listen to this, Radio program-Survive the Holidays, as it offers some ways you can get back into the “zen.”

Your dilemma plays nicely into the timing of our New Year = New You: 30 Day Fitness Challenge, which starts on Monday, January 17! Why now? Because the Challenge is all about getting into new (or restarting) habits that will lead to permanent change. 30 days is short enough to stick with the challenge and long enough to establish new, better behavior patterns. Everyone who takes part in the Challenge will receive:

daily instructions that must be obeyed:

Kymberly: Motivational Quotes to keep you going;
Fit Facts to bolster your efforts as the mind supports the body;
Activity Challenges to take your body to a better place each day;
Nutritional Ideas that actually work in real people’s lives;
Lifestyle Suggestions to make you leaner, healthier; stronger, happier; smarter. Yes, the Fun and Fit Challenge can deliver if you take part!

Want examples? Then sign-up you curious rascals. Sign-up Here! We priced it below ten bucks so that you can sponsor our trip to Europe, Bakersfield, the gym, each other’s houses. Full disclosure alert: today’s post is both an answer to Bill and a shameless promotional effort to let you know you CAN get on to and stay with the path to a more FIT-TASTIC you. Sign-up now or keep reading, then sign-up. Lookee to the right —-> or lookee to the top tab “Products.” Go and start feeling better and being all-around tops in your class.

What makes this Challenge unique are the small, cumulatively significant daily steps you’ll get to actually achieve your goals. Nothing overwhelming; everything doable in short time frames. Also, our daily challenges are geared to meet your needs whether you are shifting from neutral to drive or racing from “fairly fit” to “athletic animal.” Vroomm Zoom Zone of Zen time!

First Step – You Can Do It!

A: Fun & Fit will use a combined 50+ years of experience as teachers, presenters, writers, mentors and international fitness experts to craft a 30 day program that is worth… what? the hundreds of dollars you’ll save on food? the thousands of dollars you’ll save on health care costs? the millions of dollars (worth) of satisfaction and pride you’ll feel? Well, guess what? It’s only $9.95 to join the Challenge. Of course, for that low price, we expect you to get all your friends to join up too, as one of the markers of adherence is having a friend along on the journey. More to the point, participants get to see whether Kymberly can keep up and get more fitly herself as she will taking the challenge along with you.

Pretend this is Kymberly after the Challenge

You: Groovy baby – I want my credit card to get into the New Year = New You: 30 Day Fitness Challenge zen. What do I need to do?

A; Go to funandfit.org and sign up on our Fun & Fit Products page. You’ll get a personal email from us, welcoming you to the group. Then, starting on Monday, January 17, we’ll start bossing you around!

K: What? You are still with us? Great! Then you get to hear that our Challenge will truly be YOUR Challenge as we work together to post fun stuff about participant successes on our Fun and Fit facebook page. Look for some wacky stuff from us. Then submit your text, photo, and audio adventures on this 30 day journey. Accountability and externalized commitment will help assure you 30 days of niftiness! Let’s do it!

Hot? Not!

Photo credits: Photobucket

3

Getting Dizzy. Snap, crackle, pop!

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

Dear Fun and Fit: Enjoy your articles. Regarding the “heart above head” post [Be Still My Beating (Cardio) Heart], what does one do in the event of the dike bursting and a full-on blood flow rushes to the head, aside from sitting down? What if I am already sitting down? Also, what should one do if dizziness occurs during exercises? On a different note, what do you tell someone when they say things like: “my neck just went crack?” or “my shoulder just made a popping sound?”

Thanks, Eric, from the Goodland of Goleta, CA

I want a brownie

Alexandra: Dear Eric:  First of all, I’m wondering if you really mean to ask about blood rushing from the head, rather than to it since you mention dizziness. But I’ll stick with what you have for now, ok? You are referring to a fun activity called “vasodilation,” in which your blood vessels widen all up. Are you extra pissed off when you exercise? I ask because that big ol’ dike blood burst is generally correlated with anger. In case that doesn’t get you all riled up, smoking pot or cigarettes can have the same effect. And who knows what happens if you light up AND get angry! Kaboom!

By the way, are you exercising upside down? Just want to cover the possibilities here.

Watch me spin – urp

As to the dizziness during exercise, there are a number of reasons why this could be occurring.

Kymberly: Yes, if you are not eating properly, are dehydrated, accelerating your pace too quickly, not getting enough iron, or if you have low blood pressure, you are more susceptible to getting dizzy. If you breathe irregularly or hold your breath you can also feel faint. I once was teaching and right in mid-cue saw the stars and blackness coming at me almost as fast as the floor. But in that case, it was because I had donated blood then la-de-dahed my way to aerobics. Experience like this is what qualifies us to dole out advice.

A: Yes, and Eric asked what to do, not how to avoid making your weird mistakes. The non-medical degree that I don’t hold makes me want to say, “Check with your doctor if this is happening often or severely.” Actually, I wanted to say that so badly that I just did. If there’s no medical reason, I’d do just as I do with my students in real life (this blog is a figment of my imagination; not real life at all), and suggest maybe you eat or drink more before class. Are you hot?” (And I don’t mean “hot” like “yowza,” I mean “hot” like “turn down the sun). Then find ways to cool off (water comes to mind again). And what have you got against sitting down? It does work.

As to what I tell people whose necks crack and shoulders pop, I say nothing–I’m too busy running away from what could be a full-body explosion.

K: Personally I think Eric was getting dizzy laughing at all our fine posts. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Unless my head swells up so much that I start feeling faint.

A: That popping could be your tendons or ligaments having a party in your joints. Or, in a more “ewwwwww” kind of way, it could be escaping gas. Ah, don’t be insulted – it’s just oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Or fermented kvas.

As delicious as Bovril!

Dear readers: Did you know you had noisy gas in your joints? Have you ever gotten dizzy during exercise?

Photo credits: Photobucket

9

Kettlebell Workouts: Yes or No?

Dear Fun & Fit:

What do you think of kettle-bells? My niece was trying to get my 77-year-old sister to use them and I thought, “Wow, there is a ligament-wrenching waiting to happen.”
Debbie
Goleta, CA

Da, please!

Nyet, thanks!

Dear Deb (which is kind of, but not really, like “bells” spelled sideways:

We think kettlebells are wonderful. They make such a lovely noise right around the holidays. All that joyful clinging and clanging. Until the whoomp. But, hey, that’s what Santa gets for sneaking around living rooms.

Do you mean you want to exercise with them? Or you want to throw them at your niece? Not very family-friendly we’d say. As a workout, they are great – if done properly. But isn’t that the case with any tool? However, in the case of kettlebells, lots of people watch the YouTube videos with those crazy Russians, but let us point out two things: 1) they are Russian. 2) they are crazy. The Russians invented the kettlebell workout, probably using spare parts they had around the collective (kolkhoz, for those of us who went to university for Russian Studies). Then they took some of the more, erm, ahem, shall we say “extreme” routines and stuck them up for all to view.

But if you don’t want to roll around a grassy knoll tossing a 70-pound kettlebell up into the rainbows (and your spine into little pieces), there are actual SAFE routines you could start with. One caveat for you and anyone else who is thinking of tossing around a heavy, curvilinear cast-iron object (no, not a frying pan), if you want to take a class or session at your local gym, check out the instructor’s credentials and training for kettlebells. We are huge supporters of our fitness colleagues, but we have seen one or two crazy Americans whom we suspect took their training from a Russian YouTube video. Not to name names, but…

You shut your mouth.

I’m talking ’bout Shaft.

Dear Readers and kettlebell flingers: What is your opinion of kettlebells? And does the name make you want a cup of tea?

Photo credits: Photobucket