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Monthly Archives: February 2013
5

Want Oscar-Worthy Abs? Right and Wrong Way to do Crunches on the Stability Ball

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Michelle Obama at Oscars

Wow, did you see how beautiful and confident all the women looked in their gowns during the Oscar ceremony? I hope I would be as confident in a tight dress as they all seemed to be. And what about those Michelle Obama arms? Were you so distracted by them that you didn’t notice her toned abs?

If you want look just as great even better in your awards gown (just don’t trip like Jennifer Lawrence did), you’ll want to tone your abs up properly. With that in mind, we have a video that shows 3 tips for doing crunches the right way on a stability ball, and the 3 most common mistakes.

Learn 3 tips for doing crunches the right way on a stability ball, and the 3 most common… Click To Tweet

If you have been doing your crunches wrong, that’s okay. You’re still a winner. But if you want to take home the award for “Best Performance by Your Abs in a Leading Role (and Tight Dress),” try the 3 tips shown above. And if you want to work on your waistline, read our post about Working Obliques.

What was your favorite Oscar moment?

You’ll be a winner in our hearts when you subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

13

Improved Sleep and Comfort: Technogel Pillows

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

If you have ever had an uncomfortable night’s sleep, you’ll want to read what we discovered from sleeping on pillows from Technogel.

Technogel pillow and bedAlexandra: For the past ten years or so, I’ve had issues with vertigo, which has many causes. My vertigo turned out to be related to neck tension that affected my inner and middle ear. In practice, this meant I would be stuck in bed for days, not even able to move my eyes quickly for fear of getting sick and dizzy.

Since figuring out the problem, I have been able to manage my neck tension through massage. But!!!! (there’s always a “but” in these stories) I don’t go to the massage therapist often enough. So when the chance came to try out a Technogel anatomical pillow, I abruptly broke up with my lumpy excuse of a down pillow (I believe it had gone down, down, down years ago), and welcomed the anatomical pillow into my life. According to the description, this pillow is “recommended for those suffering from neck, back or shoulder pain. It provides excellent support and muscle relaxation. Suggested for those who sleep primarily on their sides or on their back.” Ka-Chinga.

I heard that it takes a few days to adjust, but that wasn’t the case with me.
Neck – Oh, this is lovely, and I feel so relaxed.
Me – That’s good. Now please go to sleep and release some tension, wouldya?
Neck – Yes, um, hmmmmm, zzzzzzz, snork, sigh………(sounds of soft breathing)

I haven’t dissected my pillow, but I know that it’s got foam and gel inside. And I know that the company got its start in the medical field, providing cushioning for bed-bound hospital patients. I know this because I went to the Technogel booth during my BlogTour trip to IMM Cologne, Germany. Technogel is an Italian company, I was in Germany, and my primary language is Englilsh. You can get a good night’s sleep in any language!

They removed the top later of foam to show the blue gels.

They removed the top later of foam to show the blue gels.

 

As part of my (cough cough) research, I tested out the bed at the show. And the laptop pads. And the pillows (they have 6 styles). Eventually they noticed and asked me to change out of my pajamas and leave. Not really, I was treated extremely well and encouraged to lie on the bed for as long as I wanted. Poppies… Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep. Sleeeeep. Now they’ll sleeeeep!

 

Kymberly: I, too was selected to try out a Technogel pillow. I chose the expensive one Alexandra did not pick so that we had some variety to report back on. While I fall asleep easily, I tend to wake up often then toss, turn, and flip my pillow over and over looking for elusive slumber.

Do you also have sleepless nights or stretches of insomnia? Some nights I wake up and run “to do” lists and  conversations through my head. Such head chatter makes it hard to get back to sleep. Are you familiar with the song “Pillow Talk” made famous by Doris Day?

Pillow talk, pillow talk
Another night of hearin’ myself talk, talk, talk, talk

How do I turn Doris Day Pillow Talk into Kymberly Night of No Talk? Enter my new Technogel Deluxe pillow. It may be heavy, but it’s not chatty. Yes, the first thing I noticed was that the pillow had some heft to it. Yet it was obedient, conforming to my head and temperature.

Being a person who loves words, I actually read the pamphlet that came with my nifty, high tech pillow. There I learned that we are supposed to heave ho “standardl” pillows every 18 months due to germs, bacteria, small animals that look horrific under microscopes, and other gross out details. Oops, I had been about a decade behind on that task! Welcome even more to my new sleep buddy.

Ultimately the big question is simply “did I sleep better with this deluxe Technogel pillow?” The big answer is “yes.” Between the Pure Matters Healthy Sleep supplements I take, the new mattress my hubster got for my last birthday, and this special foam and gel pillow, I am showing those night sweats and insomnia moments who is boss! A colleague had told me to expect needing a week to adjust to Technogel pillows, but that the adjustment would be worth it. I transitioned in about four seconds, one snore, and two flutters of my eyelids. Comfort and support were mine. If you want to borrow my pillow, we are talking one serious pillow fight to wrench it from my sleeping grasp!

Relax your mind and body by subscribing to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

I was compensated by FitFluential LLC for this campaign. All opinions, pillows and snores are my own (actually, the snores are Kymberly’s).

 

19

Are Mud Runs for Baby Boomers?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Mud Run Tunnel with Alexandra Have you ever heard of mud runs? Might one be on your bucket list? What about a mud walk? No matter your age, if you are in good health, we hope you’ll go for the gold, er mud! Fellow Boomers, you (and we) are not too old to tackle new activities. If you have followed our blog for a while, you know how much we stress the link between exercise and the brain.

We decided to represent for the 50+ crowd at the Love Mud Run  held this past Saturday in Temecula, CA. A mud run is an event (usually a 5K) that has a trail, obstacles and a lot of mud. It was called a run, but almost everyone walked, including us. If you see that families and kids are encouraged to participate, you can feel fairly confident you won’t be the only person walking! In fact, you can select which obstacles to tackle as well. If the event title has the words “Warrior,” “Tough,” “Challenge,” “Spartan” or “Timed,” you might want to run (or walk) the other way. As for us, it was our first voluntary mud event since our college soccer rainy days.

As first-timers, we were a bit in the dark as to exactly what to bring, wear, or expect. Luckily, we had Carissa Bealert’s radio episode, Mud Runs are Fun for Everyone  in our own Fun and Fit radio archives so we took her advice. Combining that with what we learned, we thought we’d share some tips so  you will feel confident signing up for your own mud run.

Mud Run wall obstacle with KymberlyKymberly’s Tips:

  1. Wear a unitard no matter how much your loved ones tease you about hauling out your 90’s outfit. You will keep mud from running down your waist or pulling your pants down with caked-on mud weight. I threw my Zensah t-shirt over my tank top unitard for sun protection and so I would not have to hold my abs in all day in that tight uni!
  2. Don’t worry about looking uncool, geeky weird, bizarre, mismatched, or unfashionable. Embrace the goofiness. Everyone is sporting an odd outfit and no one looks glam by the end, so you might as well wear something fun or functional and have at it. We saw all sorts of creative and unusual attire.
  3. Apply lipstick if you feel the need to dress up at all. (I did). Even if you throw fashion to the winds, a little lipstick under the chapstick never hurt a Boom Chicka Boomer!
  4. Bring a water bottle with you. Then ask whether the course offers water stations.  Refill your bottle at the water stations. Keep the cap on tightly as you slog through mud and obstacles. If that water’s browning, you’ll be frowning. Rather be drowning your thirst with clean water!
  5. Bring a towel or plastic trash bag to sit on in the car on the way home or to wherever you have a thorough shower lined up.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw1WPoaguGA[/youtube]

Alexandra’s Tips

  1. Put on sunscreen. A lot. If you have thin hair, put it on top of your head too.
  2. Look for a bag check (expect a fee). In that bag you will want a change of clothes. (Most mud runs offer a hose or shower station, so you can get at least marginally clean). If you are able to park near the finish line, the bag check may be unnecessary.
  3. Take a small pack with you. In that pack you will want to have water, more sunscreen, a bandana to cover your face in case it’s dusty, and goggles in case it’s dusty or very wet. And a small camera, but pack it in a well-sealed baggie.
  4. Wear shoes that you don’t mind throwing away. After the mud run, you will not want those shoes in your house. Flip-flops or slip-ons are a good choice post-run.
  5. Pick and choose the obstacles you want to take on, and walk around the ones that don’t seem fun. The whole point is fun, so if you only climb up, slide down and splash into 4 of 5 mud hills, so what?

Don't Delay Begin TodayJust so you know, everyone who finishes gets a medal. At this particular mud run, we saw no-one being timed, so our race bibs were merely to prove we’d paid. If you go with the intent to have fun, you will do exactly that. Oh, if you want to keep your shoes onwhen your feet get stuck in the mud, lift with your toes, not your heels.

For a good, clean time subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

22

Perky Pick Me Up Smoothie

Alexandra Williams, MA

An excellent way to start your day is with a healthy breakfast smoothie. If done right, it’s a blended concoction that is nutritious and delicious!

Perky Pick Me up SmoothieAnd if done to perfection, Mr. Smooth himself, Barry White, would hand me this smoooooooth concoction every morning! Come on now, I can’t be the ONLY person who sings, “Never Gonna Give You Up” to my morning beverage!

Since so many of my fitness students do not eat a proper breakfast, I’m sharing this recipe as a way of encouraging all of you to start your day out right. It only takes a few minutes to throw everything in the general direction of your blender, and voila!! – a glassful of your recommended daily intake for so many nutrients is just about signed, sealed and delivered (nope, not Barry White – Stevie Wonder).

As a bonus, this recipe is full of foods recommended for increasing your brain power. I’m making no promises that you’ll get smarter, but it’s nice to start your day with the potential to boost your brain! We go into more detail in our post “Brain Envy” that talks about the link between your brain, your nutrition and your movement habits.

Perky Pick Me Up Smoothie Recipe
ice
2 oz. blueberries
1 oz. plain Greek yogurt
4 Tbl brewed green tea, cooled
2 leaves kale (with spine removed) or other dark, leafy greens (i.e., swiss or red chard)
4 oz. Silk Pure Almond Unsweetened Vanilla
2 Tbl applesauce

smoothie ingredientsCombine all ingredients in a blender or juicer and blend until smooth.

Makes 1 serving

Calories saved by using Silk Pure Almond Unsweetened Vanilla milk instead of low-fat moo milk: 25

 

 

 

 

Okay, anyone can throw ingredients into a blender, but you will be astounded at how fun I make the “ingredient throwing” in this video.

Get even smarter by reading the rest of this post, ‘cause this is the part where I tell you why the almond milk is such a great choice in this smoothie. First, it has less than half the calories of skim milk (30 versus about 80 for a single serving). Second, it is not cow’s milk. I’m somewhat lactose intolerant anyway. Third, almond milk tastes very creamy and delectable (I just love that word). Fourth, I’m a vegetarian, and it’s from the infamous almond vegetable plant! hahaha. Okay, an almond tree. But that’s still something that grows from the ground, not something that walks on it! And finally, it’s GMO-free. I would never feed modified food to my boys, so why feed it to myself?

I’m fond of products that have the word “pure” in them!

Silk Pure Unsweetened Almond Milk

Smooth out your fitness knowledge by subscribing to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

Photo credits: Blueberries:  brx0, Almonds:  artizone, Green Tea:  balaam, Kale: urbangarden

Disclosure: I was compensated by FitFluential LLC for this campaign. All opinions, recipes and taste buds are my own.

22

Supplements for Boomers: Pure Matters

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

As we age, are supplements necessary? Do they help with boomer health? With all the contradictory research out there, it’s hard to know what to believe or do. So we set out to discover whether specific supplements could help us with specific complaints.

GlucoChon MSM formula Pure MattersAlexandra: For most of my life, I’ve eschewed supplements as unnecessary. I’ve always been a believer that we can get what we need for our bodies through good nutrition and exercise. But that “most” of my life was prior to my 50th birthday. Now I deal with a reconstructed soccer knee and foot. And it takes longer to heal the rare times that I do get sick.

So when we were asked to try out Pure Matters supplements, I was leery, yet willing. Knowing the history of supplements, I checked out the company first, and was comforted by their commitment to clean ingredients, including this statement on their site: “Trustworthy – We will use only wholesome, scientifically proven ingredients composed in clean facilities. And when our formulations can be improved, we will improve them.” My two biggest issues with supplements – Can the ingredients be trusted? and Will these help my health?

We're Smiling After 24 Hours of Travel Because we are NOT in Pain! But we ARE Tired!

We’re Smiling After 24 Hours of Travel Because we are NOT in Pain! But we ARE Tired!

I chose to try Biotin (skin, nails & hair), Omega-3 Fish Oils (heart health) and GlucoChon MSM Formula (joint & tissue health). If you read my previous post about getting my blood tested, you might recall that the consulting registered dietitian recommended Omega-3 Fish Oil to me. Boom!

Declare all Stiff Knees at Customs!

Declare all Stiff Knees at Customs!

Today I will focus on the GlucoChon MSM Formula, because that is the one where I definitely noticed a difference. Normally when I fly, my reconstructed knee gets very stiff, and I spend the day after flying with a slight limp and some swelling at the knee. I took 3 tablets a day for a month. At the end of that month I flew from California to Europe and back, for a total of 5 flights. My knee didn’t feel stiff for those flights, nor did I end up limping. No inflammation either. It wasn’t a controlled study, and who knows what other variables were in play, but this was the first time since my 1998 knee surgery (and a handful of subsequent surgeries) that I had no issues after flying. Cause and effect or correlation – I have no idea. But I would take these supplements again (besides trusting their ingredients, I also am a huge fan of their customer service). Since I’m not a doctor, I cannot make supplement recommendations, but I can recommend Pure Matters as a company I trust to work with me as a consultant for my health needs. I can also say that I believe these supplements worked for me.

Kymberly up a treeKymberly: Do you have joints that predict weather? Ever since I broke both wrists as a teenager falling out of a tree, they ache when the weather changes. That is, my wrists did creak and moan until I made one change: taking Pure Matters “Joint Health” supplements. To be honest, I committed to trying the supps to help my knee joint (which has arthritis and chronic pain after a soccer injury and two surgeries. Sound like a certain twin we all know?). Then I noticed that my wrists were not predicting the weather anymore. In fact, they felt so good I forgot about them until I finished my last “Joint Health” tablets. Within two days, my wrists were aching and futuretelling once again.

This should predict weather.

My wrist joints predict the weather better than this weather vane.

As for my knee, it is hard to tell the supplements’ effect as my knee ached off and on a lot during the trial period. (See my prior post on the subject). But I have been breaking in new orthotics this past month, which has thrown that rascal joint into confusion. I need to give the “Joint Health” another go to really note the effect on my knee (and to keep my wrists from competing again with the evening weather report).

Speaking of nights, what did work wonders was the “For Healthy Sleep” formula I also tried. Anyone else yearn for those nights where you fall asleep and stay asleep until morning? No stumbling trips to the bathroom, no night sweats, no cats wrestling on your back at o’dark too early, no insomnia with a list of “to do’s” running through your head, no hubster cover hogging?  I love my cats and hubster, but I also love when I travel and stay in hotel rooms. Alone. Cuz’ I remind myself what a good night’s sleep feels like on those occasions.

My wrists feel so good I can finally do this move again. It's been AGES!

My wrists feel so good I can finally do this move again. It’s been AGES!

So I was happily surprised when the “For Healthy Sleep” tablets provided the same great sleep as my nights in hotels. As in, like magic and immediately. And less expensively. Now if only my knee would feel so refreshed!

Have you found supplements that have worked for you? Others that have been expensive pee? Let us know!

Supplement your fitness knowledge by subscribing to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own. 

Photo credit: Dusseldorf Customs: Courtney Price; Smiling at Airport, Brandon Smith

25

Water: What is it Good For?

Alexandra Williams, MA

Water provides many health benefits, especially to aging skin. For us boomers, the importance of water increases as we age, for respiratory health, skin care, holistic health, well-being and physical wellness. And how we get that water is important too. Gone are the days of carrying water in buckets on our heads, but as we age, water accessibility, especially in the kitchen, is important too.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat (or Bobsled)During my recent trip to Cologne with the Modenus BlogTour, I experienced water from a variety of perspectives. What do you mean, I'm about to get wet?

On the very first night of BlogTour, we were invited by BLANCO to a private dinner at the German Sports and Olympic Museum. For a good description with great pictures, read this post by Tina Ramchandani. I mention the dinner for several reasons: 1) it set the tone for how we were treated throughout the entire event, 2) the water at meals in Europe usually comes in glass bottles, and 3) wine has water in it!

BLANCO HOT

Instant Cooked Pasta!

Water Comes Out (of the Faucet)
On the morning after the welcome dinner, we headed to the BLANCO booth at The Living Kitchen inside IMM Cologne: The International Furnishing Show to learn about faucets, sinks and water systems. The sign at the booth had a waterfall, which I hope you can see in this picture. Blanco-IMM BoothIn any case, BLANCO had two items in particular that I fell in love with. The first was a hot water system that puts out boiling water instantly. As they say on their site, “nothing works in the kitchen without water,” and if you want steaming tea or coffee water immediately, you can get it. Cooking, preparing, heating, washing – Boom, boiling water that’s 97 celsius. Don’t ask me what that is in Fahrenheit – heck, we were in Europe, so we got European measurements – all I know is that the days of running water wastefully down the drain while it heats up (or in my case, filling the pets’ drinking bowl repeatedly) are over. Well, those days are over in 2014, which is when this system might be available in the U.S. But I can wait – my kitchen will still be around next year!

BLANCO SAGAMy favorite BLANCO product was the SAGA tap. I immediately thought of my mom, who is a young person in an elderly body. She has arthritis in her hands and wrists, and her grip strength isn’t that great. This faucet is ideal for people like her who have limited mobility, dexterity, vision or grip strength. Instead of having to reach for a lever, or twist one (or even two) handles, you just slide the sleeve that’s right by the spout. Super simple to use: slide forward or back to control water volume, and gently turn left or right to set the water temperature. With 10,000 boomers turning 65 every day for the next decade, products that “speak” to aging joints will be mandatory. When I saw this faucet, I immediately thought of the increased independence this design offers.

Water Goes In (To the Skin and Body)
One of the sponsors of BlogTour was Mr. Steam, makers of steam showers and towel warmers. They sent us to the Claudius Therme Spa, known for its healing thermal mineral waters. For a lively recap of the visit to the spa, read this post by Paul Anater.
According to their site, the heated water “aids rheumatic complaints and diseases of the intervertebral discs or joints, has a positive effect on hypertension, circulatory problems and disorders caused by stress, and activates enzymes and and stabilizes bone structure.”
Claudius Therme SpaClaudius Therme Spa
On the Mr. Steam site you can find a list of 44 benefits of steam therapy, which add to the list above. Below are just a few:

 

 

 

* Cleanses, lubricates and hydrates the skin
* Removes toxins from the body
* Increases circulation
* Helps the body rid itself of excess sodium
* May relieve pain and discomfort from arthritis
* Rids the body of metabolic and other waste products
* Promotes deep, restful sleep
* Helps reinvigorate tired muscles
* Increases muscular flexibility
And of course, #44 is my favorite because it’s so specific:
* Adds humidity to your orchids (I don’t have orchids, but my dry legs like humidity!)

We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the spa (possibly due to the naked people wandering about the sauna area), but I will tell you that we sat inside a very steamy hot tub in the middle of a pool that had a current so you could float or swim while circling the hot tub. The photo above shows how it looked. It was heavenly. Yay! Now I’m back home with bronchitis and wishing for a steam shower. Boo! But we were allowed to take pictures of the group eating dinner at the spa. Yes, we really are eating a formal dinner while dressed in robes!Dinner at Claudius Therme

Speaking of steam, you might like to know what I thought of the Miele steam oven once I saw it in person. After eating a lot of food made in the steam oven at the convention, my advice is “Run to the store and buy one right now!” I even tweeted about my plan to toss my micro in place of the steam oven, and I encourage you to do the same if you want super delicious, nutritious food.Miele Steam Oven Tweets

Going to IMM Cologne really taught me new ways of viewing my life and home, and how truly good design can help improve both. When my home is healthy, I’m happy, and when I’m healthy, my home is a happy place.

Oh, while we’re on the subject of water, if you’re a boomer you’ll get the song reference in this post’s title. This video should help. But change the answer to “Absolutely Something”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01-2pNCZiNk[/youtube]

Want to water your own face with tears of joy? First, take a look at our post on what water temperature is best for exercisers. Then please subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter:AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above. We’ll cry happiness tears too!

BlogTour Badge Cologne (black)-1Photo credits: Alexandra rowing: Sarah Sarna; BLANCO sign: Tina Ramchandani; Claudius Therme in Snow: Paul Anater; Faucets: BLANCO; Robes at dinner: FlyingCamel/The NKBA

Disclaimer: I was not paid to share my opinions about the products I liked at IMM Cologne. I am, however, very grateful to all the sponsors.