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Monthly Archives: August 2011
6

I Lost Over 370 Pounds: The Story of Steve Nicander

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
 

At the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention, we met Steve Nicander, who has followed keynote speaker, Dr. Daniel Amen’s program to improve his brain and body. Who is Steve, you wonder? A remarkable man who made a decision that would keep him alive. To do this, he had to shed several people…sort of. He shed enough weight to total several people!

A few short years ago, Steve weighed just below 650 pounds! That is not a typo – he weighed just under SIX HUNDRED FIFTY pounds!

Steve weighed a LOT

Steve at 638 pounds

No, he was NOT comfortable. Nor was he happy. He was suicidal and depressed. But….Steve is a determined cuss. After a trip to the hospital, he made a decision to turn his life around – back toward life and away from the death he knew was near. At the start, he couldn’t even get out of  his chair. So he moved his feet and legs. Eventually he lost 175 pounds! Once he could stand, he started walking, then bike riding. Steve has lost over 370 pounds and is still losing weight and gaining muscle strength. We’ll let him tell and show you right here:

So, what do you think? Could you do what Steve did? What if your life depended on it? And did you even know that a person could have 50 pounds worth of skin?

Here is the Summer of 2011 Steve:

Steve in August 2011

Inspire the World to Fitness

If you want to know more about Steve, and follow him in his journey, check out his site. Be inspired. Get moving.

Photo Credits: Steve Nicander

Special Sale Just For You!

At the recent fitness convention, we heard bestselling author Dr. Daniel Amen talk about brain health. He was adamant that we need more Vitamin D, Omega-3 and other supplements (from safe sources), as we aren’t getting enough in our daily diets.

With that in mind, our friends at Hannas Herb Shop (via Kroeger Herbs) were kind enough to offer a 24 Hour sale that includes free shipping to all our Fun & Fit readers. It expires Wednesday, August 24, so if you need any homeopathic, clean Omega-3, Vitamin D, GABA, Grapeseed capsules….or any other of their supplements, check it out.

Go to HannasHerbShop.com to do your shopping. At check-out, enter the code: FreeFitForFunAndFit to get your free shipping! That’s it!

Let us know what you think as we are now to the age where we are adding supplements to our lifestyle!

6

Brain Envy: Be Thinner, Smarter & Happier

Dr Amen at IDEA Convention with K and A Brain envy time

Dr. Amen is amazed at our brains!

Do you have brain envy? Even better, would you like others to have brain envy of you? We do! We just got back from the annual IDEA international fitness convention and found all kinds of interesting stuff to share with you. Dr. Daniel Amen, author of “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body” and 27 other books gave a lecture called “The Secrets to Being Thinner, Smarter and Happier.” Want to know those secrets?

Alexandra: The brain is linked so strongly to what you eat and how much you move that its size, shape and function actually change. As your weight goes up, your brain size goes down. You do NOT want to become a victim of Dinosaur Syndrome – big body, little brain = extinct! Sadly, the brains of obese people look 16 years older in scans than they are. And Dr. Amen showed a picture of a very healthy 82 year-old brain, so age does not guarantee brain deterioration.

Dinosaurs had tiny brains and Brain envy

Dino Syndrome: Big Body / Little Brain = Extinct

Kymberly: However, having a birthday this weekend guarantees age! Only 6 more shopping days until twinnie’s birthday. I hope she gets some new dendrites, ganglia, and neurotransmitters for her big day.

Having read 6 of Dr. Amen’s books, I developed serious brain envy, so for my birthday I plan to work out and eat healthfully. Right after the small piece of chocolate cake. I want to do what it takes to stave off any mental decline and have the heaviest, most active brain possible into my 90s and beyond!  My real birthday wish is for you all to have the same!

A: The mind controls the body, not the other way round. It’s your brain that tells you it’s okay to eat a second helping of ice cream, and it’s also your brain that tells you to push away from the table.

Tips to help you put your brain consciously in control:

  • Get rid of as much sugar in your diet as possible. Research has shown sugar to be more addictive than cocaine. And guess where sugar is usually found – in high-fat junk food!
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. When you get less than 7 hours, you have lower blood flow to the brain.
  • Say no to liquid poison. Alcohol is not your friend. If you drink every day, your brain gets smaller. Alcohol penetrates the blood/ brain barrier and literally acts like a poison within your brain.
  • When making decisions about food and movement, ask yourself, “Does this hurt or help my brain?” When you are making these choices consciously, it’s hard to believe you’d choose to hurt yourself.
Does your lifestyle enhance your brain power or detract from it? Click To Tweet
  • Move more. Sit less.
  • Meditate, do yoga, go for a walk–anything that calms your mind. When you are troubled, you are more likely to have a troubled brain and body.
  • Avoid eating excess fat, which has exactly the same effect as eating toxins. Do you want toxins?
  • Keep a food journal.
  • Engage in new learning.
  • Make yourself aware of which friends or relatives help you, and which ones sabotage you. Plan accordingly.
  • Write down your motivation and look at it every day.

K: So, does your lifestyle enhance your brain power or detract from it? Remember, the choices you make today affect your brain TODAY and into the future. Hey, if my brain is the ultimate controller, why does Alexandra keep saying she’s in charge?

Choices you make today affect your brain TODAY & into the future Click To Tweet

Dear readers: This seems like a perfect moment to direct you to our TrasnsformAging webinar slides and recordings. If you are ready to improve your brain and body, click to see what’s on the other side.

Dino photo: Creative Commons

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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5

No Pain, No Gain…No Way!: Karen Whittier’s Inspirational Yoga Story

Guest post from Karen Whittier

I’ve been active all my life.  I took the slogan “no pain, no gain” to heart and if I didn’t feel completely spent after a workout I didn’t consider it a workout.

Karen Whittier- yoga and injury

Karen Whittier

Just like every other working mother out there (I know that’s redundant) spare time is something rare.  So when I did have the opportunity to get some exercise, I’d go run figuring running gave the most bang for my pavement-pounding buck.  Sure I knew runners were supposed to stretch—either before or after running depending on who you listened to.  BUT they just didn’t understand…I didn’t have time for that.

Over the years, the body will try to do what it can to keep going. It’s very easy to choose to ignore your body’s signals that things are amiss. I certainly ignored warnings from my body, but I didn’t want to change my workouts or admit anything was wrong. Sooner or later, though, the body’s quiet distress signals will become full-fledged screams.

The usual progression of overuse leads right to injuries.  I had a handful of injuries, leading up to the one that definitely got my attention.  I was out running when I heard a pop and simultaneously jumped straight up; crumpling on the trail when I landed.  Unfortunately I was out a distance from my car and so I did my best to shuffle/limp the rest of the back.  My tight, unpliable hamstrings were the culprit and I was forced into some stretching exercises with physical therapy when my injury healed.  I even voluntarily tried some yoga classes.

I guess this is an indictment on my intelligence but once I started feeling better I lapsed right back into the prior patterns.  It wasn’t too long before injuries and newly diagnosed arthritis knocked me out of action again.

I credit yoga with reclaiming my physical freedom.  I’d gotten to the point where, almost every day, I’d be in tears suffering from chronic pain and stiffness from arthritis.  I was given more and more medication. None, except cortisone shots, did anything to alleviate the pain and unfortunately cortisone shots are not something that can be done routinely.

Karen Whittier, Commit to the CauseI was getting to the point of desperation.  I faintly remembered feeling better when I’d done yoga.  I decided to commit more fully to it and, sure enough in not too long a time, the range of motion in my hips and shoulders increased; I stood up taller and moved more fluidly.  Having my brain work with my body, as partners, has made all the difference!  I’m not 100% pain free every day and I’ll never be described as flexible, but I am no longer taking anti-inflammatories and I’m much, much more flexible than I was.

Karen Whittier- Embrace Activism

I was so impressed by the results yoga gave me I ended up going through a teacher training program.  I’ve been able to unite my passion for health and wellness through yoga with my commitment to fight disease with a new business, Embrace Activism.  You might not be able to envision just what you’ll discover once you begin your yoga journey, but I can promise you it’ll be life-changing.

One of my favorite quotes to now live by is from William Arthur Ward: “Do more than belong: Participate.  Do more than care: Help.  Do more than believe: Practice.  Do more than be fair: Be Kind.  Do more than forgive: Forget. Do more than dream: Work.”

Dear Readers: Add to your online workout buddy list and actively embrace Karen over at her site, www.EmbraceActivism.com.

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18

Planking Meets Fitness Plank

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

The art of planking is to lie horizontally across any object or the ground with arms by your side, aiming to occur in daring situations – Urban dictionary.

Guess what?! Planking and a fitness plank are not the same thing. For example, if it’s Hugh Hefner and the Playboy bunnies, that’s planking:

Is Hugh dead or planking?

Dude, you need Viagra! And coffee!

Hugh is supervising bunny planking

Choosing your dessert for the night Hugh?

Actually, that looks kind of fun. Maybe I’ll try it. Gotta find a good location, though. Then I will focus on demonstrating the wrong and right way to do a fitness plank.

Hmm, obviously my son wants to be JUST LIKE ME when he grows up!

Miles Planking

Look Ma, No Hands (or Brakes)

Readers: What crazy locations have you sought out for your foray into planking?

 

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22

Homework, Running, Chemo: Juliana Carvatt’s Inspirational Exercise Story

Guest post from Juliana Carvatt

In the last five years, my life has undergone a striking transformation. Five years ago, when I was 21 years old, I was studying elementary education at The College of New Jersey. After finishing my third year of college, I received the shocking news that a freckle on my shoulder was in fact melanoma. The cancer was found throughout the depth of the biopsy collected, which meant it was most likely advanced. The diagnosis was especially frightening because although I have fair skin, I religiously wear sunscreen and have never set foot in a tanning salon.

juliana's inspirational storyDuring the summer between my junior and senior year of college, I had multiple surgeries, first to remove the cancer, then to take out lymph nodes to which the cancer had spread, and later to implant a port that would be used to administer intravenous chemotherapy. I was advised to take the year off of school to complete a twelve-month immunochemotherapy regimen, but I chose to complete my degree while I did treatment. I was determined to graduate on time no matter what.

I would describe the next year as the most difficult of my life.

Although I hope to have many more years of living, I doubt there will be few, if any, as challenging as the one I spent going to school, student-teaching, and doing chemo. But with the support of friends, family, and some very accommodating professors, I made it, graduating summa cum laude, right on schedule.

A week after I completed treatment, I bought a membership at the YMCA and decided that I would never take my body’s ability to do miraculous things for granted. After all, it had fought cancer, recovered from three surgeries all less than a month apart, and endured twelve months of toxic chemo. If my body was capable of doing that, the least I could do was honor it. I found myself drawn to running, and although I was never a runner before cancer, after the fight, I somehow tied running to loving and appreciating my body. Starting to run was a turning point for me. It marked the start of a life of living after cancer. That’s why I believe that while treatment saved me from cancer, it was running that saved me from the devastating physical and emotional toll treatment took on me.

When I first started exercising, I could barely walk a mile.

GradChemo, Cancer, Runningually, I was able to do more. I tried not to get discouraged by how little I could do. I set a goal to participate in a 5K race that was eight weeks away. To prepare, I found a walk-to-run 5K training guide online and followed it carefully. On the days I didn’t want to get out of bed and go to the gym, I would ask myself, “Have you ever regretted going for a run?” My answer to that question has always been “No.” Asking myself this is usually enough to get me out of bed!

After I completed the 5K, I explored lots of other activities in and outside of the gym; kickboxing, skiing, pilates, white water kayaking, yoga, dance, and spin classes. I enjoyed these activities, but running was still my favorite. It’s been nearly four years since I promised to honor my body, and I feel I have kept that promise.

Last spring, I began chronicling my adventures as a runner/cancer survivor on a blog, called Hope, Love, Run. I love writing about my experiences and hope that my blog motivates others to push their own limits and overcome personal challenges. I also feel accountable because I share the goals I set for myself in my posts and reflect on them regularly.

Last summer, I pledged to run six miles every day in July so I could win the title of top point-earner on a site called Earndit.com. I successfully reached my goal of running six miles every day for a month, and reaching that goal gave me the confidence to begin training for a half marathon. I ran my first half last November, and this spring I trained for and ran another half marathon to support First Descents, a charity that encourages young adult cancer survivors to push their physical limits. I called this race my cancerversary half marathon, because the race date was within a few days of the five year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, a date I was once told I might not live to see.

My life today is nothing like I envisioned it would be five years ago…

it’s better than I ever could have imagined; I am so happy to be alive! I never thought anything good could come from getting cancer, but now I know that’s just not true. I have developed a passion for exercise and an appreciation for my body that many women spend a lifetime searching for. But most of all, I’ve learned that with a fighting spirit and some determination, anything is possible!

Juliana

Clinton, New Jersey

www.hopeloverun.blogspot.com

10

Can’t Kickback with Kickbox Back Pain

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

I have been taking aerobics classes from Alexandra for the past few years. This summer I finally graduated and now I won’t be! Sad. Anyways, the other day at a kickboxing class I kind of tweaked my back. I didn’t work out for a couple days hoping to let it feel a little better, and so now I think it is okay. But sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night my back kind of hurts. I was wondering is there a best sleeping position to help with posture and back?

Thanks! Lily

Sleep on your back or side

A Back Ache Might be the Least of Your Worries

Alexandra: Thanks for the compliments, Lily. I shall be sure to lord it over my sister. Kickboxing and back pain are sadly a combo about as common as college life and parties (but you graduated, so wouldn’t know anything about that)! Way back in 2000 (wow, did they have kickboxing and pain that long ago?) I wrote an article entitled “Injury Prevention in Kickboxing Classes” for IDEA Fitness Source (now IDEA Fitness Journal) that showed that injury rates to the back from kicks was as high as 23%. Can you believe it? Me neither. I was so young then and am surprised I knew how to do research. Guess I was precocious.

 Kymberly: Forget talking about kickboxing, Ms Precocious Thang. I think Lily’s real question has to do with sleeping position and reducing back pain. Lily: I do like the part where you pretend to have liked my sister. She is actually a rather nice person deep down. Deep deep down. Any-who…. my suggestion is to lie on your side with your knees slightly bent. Place a pillow between your knees to keep your hips and therefore spine aligned. Read this article on reducing back pain while sleeping, keeping in mind that one goal of the article is to sell the nifty pillow. If you buy it, get me one too, will you?

 A: Here’s my point: In addition to sleeping in a better position, you want to avoid hurting yourself in kickboxing again, I assume. Even though you won’t be in my classes anymore, I can still repeat my nags: use your core, chamber your moves, no leg flinging, and keep your kicks low. If you do everything I say (like that’s ever happened anywhere, anytime), you might avoid pulling your back muscles next time.

Punch & Kick using your Core

Take That, Shish-ke-bob Man

K: Let’s also chat a moment about any repeat back tweaks, especially if you want to get back into your kickboxing program and are a little hesitant. If you hurt your back again, take an easy walk or get on cardio equipment for a low resistance, low intensity ten minute walk the days immediately following the tweak. You can see more on how to minimize muscles soreness in our posts, “My Calves Got a Big Stiffy,” and Running, Be Sore No More”  (I am assuming “tweak” means “sore muscles,” not something else involving vertebrae or ligaments or suchlike.) By raising your core temperature and heating your muscles with the cardio activity, you may reduce the nighttime soreness. Unless you work out just before bedtime, in which case you will have insomnia and not be able to sleep anyway, so you won’t have to worry about being woken up by back pain. Problem solved! Feel free to send us your next question about timing exercise so you can get to sleep!

A: I’ll just point out that you wouldn’t have gotten hurt in MY class, Miss Lily!

Readers: Have you ever kicked too high or with bad form and ended up with back pain that prevented you from sleeping properly?

Photo credits: Creative Commons

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57

Workouts More Fun than MS and Epilepsy: Mary Ellen Ciganovich’s Inspirational Exercise Story

Guest post by Mary Ellen Ciganovich

Mary Ellen

Mary Ellen - beautiful in and out

When you feel fit, you feel alive, energetic and R.E.A.L.: Really Enthusiastic About Life!

For me, fitness has always been fun! I was lucky enough to have been born at a time when fun meant coming home from kindergarten, doing my homework or chores then grabbing my bicycle and riding around the neighborhood with my friends. In summertime we would ditch our bikes for a game of kickball in the street. Or if we could find a mason jar we would catch fireflies! My neighborhood had a small creek running through it, so on really hot Atlanta nights we would wade through the creek like a band of pirates.

Then at the age of six, I was diagnosed with epilepsy.

I had a very simple case of petite mal temporal lobe epilepsy but my family took it very hard. They tried to explain to me what epilepsy was but nothing made sense at that age. I was told what I “couldn’t” or “shouldn’t” do but I did not feel any different so I continued to play and stay fit as much as possible. If it was fun, why should I stop? Plus playing outside got me out of the house.

My home life was not the best. We looked like the model family at the movies or restaurants, especially on High Holy days when we would go to church.  I was very well-dressed, and as my mother often told me, “at least you don’t look like you have it,” “it” being the epilepsy. I used to wonder what people with epilepsy were supposed to look like!

Our true home life was verbally and emotionally traumatic. When mom and dad fought it would just tear me to pieces. I believed they were fighting about me or I had caused the problem somehow. I am a very sensitive person and did not like to hear them yell and fight and …………… I think you get the picture. When I would get on my bike to ride around the neighborhood I could leave all of their turmoil behind me.

I continued to involve myself in activities that were athletic. My epilepsy was well-controlled though medication so to me it was not a worry. In fourth grade I tried out for cheerleading and continued to cheer through high school. I also took ballet through the Atlanta School of Ballet catching rides to get to my lessons with several worthy friends. I went on to attend The University of Georgia, graduating Magna cum Laude in Education and becoming a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.

Even though my mother and sister told me I could never get married nor have any children–at this time it was illegal in most states for people with epilepsy to marry and/or have children–I did get married and have a beautiful daughter! (You can imagine the ignorance about epilepsy back then.)

Then in 1986 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

I remember when my neurologist told me this diagnosis, my first question was, “Can I still work out?” Exercise always made me feel good and normal, something I never felt growing up. She hesitated for only a moment before saying, “You’re going to work out anyway, aren’t you?” I said “yes” so she told me to “go ahead. It probably won’t hurt.” In 1986 there were no medications or shots to take–nothing but prescriptions to deal with the symptoms. My first symptom was a sharp knife-like pain through my right eye. Prednisone took care of it. Then a sol-u-medrol IV treatment put me back on my feet.

I read everything I could get my hands on about multiple sclerosis. I even called the National MS Society asking them to send me their literature. In 1986 this literature was NOT optimistic. When I received and read this horrible “junk” I called the MS society and told them what they could do with their literature. Then I slammed the phone down and tore it ALL up! I was determined to learn what I needed myself.

What I read  about MS pointed at keeping three things in balance

  1. My mind through meditating and reading;
  2. My body through lots of exercise and a detoxifying, nutritionally fortifying diet;
  3. My spirit (soul) through letting go and allowing God to work his magic through me.

I now work out almost every single day.

Usually you can find me at the Sports Barn on Lee Highway in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I take lots of classes–such as power flex class, step aerobics, cardio dance, and yoga–because I enjoy them. I also work out on the Precor machines.  I played tournament racquetball for awhile but I had to give that up because when I get hot my MS flares up and I start seeing two balls or stumble around as if drunk!

Lately in the heat of the summer I’ve had to back down just to keep my MS under control. You have to know your body. Listen to it. Push yourself to get out there and work out. Meet new people. Make new friends. Find a fitness routine that works for you and DO IT! There are no excuses!! Even on my bad MS days I push myself to exercise because when I finish I feel so much better and I know my MS “monster” is back in its cave!

Being active is fun! It means getting together with some of the most wonderful women in Chattanooga who have become much more than workout buddies – they are my friends, my own little support group. (I would like to tell them Thank You!  I hope all of you know how much your kindness, love and unending support have meant to me!)

To all of you reading my story: what is your excuse if you are not working out regularly? Lack of time? Money? The old “I don’t look good enough to go to a gym” excuse?

  • Lack of Time? I taught middle school all day and still went to the gym before going home to grade papers even with MS and epilepsy;
  • Lack of Money? No, this is not a stopper. You can always find free ways to work out, or a club that can work with your budget, unless you are looking for an excuse.
  • Not looking good enough? Who is looking? We all started out somewhere!

Healing Words, by Mary Ellen Ciganovich

You can become fit – you can stay fit and you can become  R.E.A.L. – Really Enthusiastic About Life!

Sincerely with love,
Mary Ellen Ciganovich, author Healing Words, Life Lessons to Inspire
www.askmaryellen.com
askmaryellen@aol.com
423-653-6446

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21

Proper Form for Uphill Walking

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

 

Since we go for walks on a regular basis up in the hills above Santa Barbara, we thought we’d share with you some tips about the wrong, and right, ways to walk. Did you know there even was a proper walking technique? Watch and learn, grasshopper; watch and learn:

Once you’ve practiced
* swinging your arms in opposition
* bending at the ankle
* keeping upright at the waist and hips with good posture

you’ll be so good you can even Walk This Way:

Happy Walking!

Walking in S.B.

Yay, I ditched my sister on our walk!

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