by Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
If you read only one fitness book, this is the one. It includes answers to 125 of the most frequently asked fitness questions. Now in its 10th printing, this book combines up-to-date research with practical information for establishing an optimal health, fitness and wellness lifestyle. From exercise instruction and workouts, to wellness and nutrition, Kravitz has been writing, researching and speaking about fitness for over 30 years. He takes complex topics and research results, and explains them in an easy-to-comprehend format.
The title doesn’t do justice to the knowledge and science that Grand puts into her exercise selections. The book includes a 12-week progressive program that includes strength training, cardiovascular training, and nutrition to support fat loss and muscle gain, and the recommendations are realistic and achievable. This book has sound advice based on solid research. You can hear Tamara explain why we gain weight in midlife in our radio interview of her: What Can You Do About Hormones, Menopause, and Menopot.
This companion set has one book aimed more toward men, the other toward women, with exercises in both applicable to all exercisers. Effective exercises, lifestyle information and recipes are the three parts to these books. As both a health and fitness coach, Witt is good at explaining the links between emotions, nutrition, humor, a social network, and physical activity. While I disagree with some of his slang terms, and feel the layout could be a bit more polished, the information is trustworthy and written in a way that is suitable for a complete beginner.
These three books cover just about cover everything you need to know in my (pescatarian) opinion! I love reading books about food and nutrition, yet keep coming back to Pollan’s because they make eating and food simple to understand. And he informs, where others preach. He’s also a very good writer, and I love good writing.
The titles of both these books let you know straight away that Nestle writes about the politics of food. If you are concerned about food advocacy and equality, plus food safety, read these. Her strong opinions are informed by research and statistics. In other words, facts! These books will help you become a more-informed decision-maker about what you eat.
Growing up as redheaded, freckle-faced, glasses-wearing, intellectual and sporty identical twins in a family of 5 kids, we had a lot of nicknames as youngsters. Some of the names we actually liked, such as “Bobbsey Twins” and “brainiacs.” The latter appellation must have made an impression as all the neuroscience coming out about the brain’s “trainability” and plasticity really captures my fancy. The link between cognitive enhancement and exercise particularly motivates me to move, think, and try new activities.
After reading dozens of new books on the relationship between movement and the brain, I hope you are inspired to check out my suggestions. But only if you want to be more fit inside and out!
First up, read Spark. Actually, first read our posts about meeting Dr. Ratey, hearing him present highlights from his book, and sitting next to him at dinner without drooling. Ok, I did drool a wee bit as I handed him my book copy to sign. If you want to remodel and transform your brain for peak performance, this book is for you! Warning: You will be so sparked by the brain benefits of movement that you’ll disdain a sedentary life forever after.
If you’ve listened to our radio show or been reading our posts for any duration (I really, really hope you answered “yes” to this “if”), then you’ll know I squee at the knowledge Dr. James Hill imparts with humor and facts galore. You’ll get proven, repeatable, long term weight loss and maintenance solutions when you listen to our recent radio show interview of him — Fat Loss: What Does and Doesn’t Work?
Prefer quick summaries of his talks on reducing obesity or knowing how your “why” affects your weight loss success? Read the write-ups we did after hearing him speak at two events. And of course, you will want to add State of Slim to both your library and cookbook collection. Don’t just add the book to your stacks. Actually read it. You’ll get recipes to unstick your metabolism; you’ll find out the 6 factors successful weight losers have in common, you’ll practically want to move to Colorado. Unless you are me and live in Santa Barbara, CA, in which case my butt is parked (not in “idle” mind you, but revved up).
And the book I am reading now? Glad you asked. See, my brain can make up creative conversations after tackling this list of super resources! After interviewing Dr. Cynthia Green for our radio episode, Your Best Brain Might Be Ahead of You I divebombed into Your Best Brain Ever. Michael Sweeney and Dr. Green give a lot of practical tips broken into short chapters with many examples. Not only will you easily find out what to do to enhance your brain health, but also why and how the brain functions. The two authors present the lowdown on your lobes in a super accessible, comprehensible manner. This book is a quick, easy read. Or I am just so much smarter reading it that it seems that way!
You can read while on cardio equipment; listen to our radio show interviews when on a walk, run, or drive; or simply kick back in the springtime sun and learn as you (don’t) burn (kcals or your skin). That’s a double wordplay for you. Fit brainiac status, here I come!
We make a few cents if you buy glasses from Warby Parker (see our “glasses” link above), which is great. Did we mention they have a Try Before You Buy program?
Disclosure:I have been a long-time fan of Blue Diamond almonds. Because of this, I was asked to write a sponsored post for them. My opinions are all my own, as are my recipe fails & successes. You are welcome to both!
To honor my sister’s love of baking, I decided to use some of the recipes for our family’s Easter get-together. My way of choosing recipes seems to follow a specific pattern of questions I ask myself:
* what recipe looks potentially tasty for whomever the bread is intended
* what ingredients do I have in the house (or am I trying to use up), and
* do I have the skills (or time) for that recipe?
Since I had lots of ingredients in the house, and a variety of people coming, I chose the most t
ime-consuming, f oolish, logical path and decided to make five different items in one day!
I’ll focus on the coffeecake, as that’s the one where I felt
super relatively creative when I switched out some of the chopped plain almonds for the Blue Diamond coffee almonds in the topping. If you like coffee or mocha, you might try this idea in some of your recipes.
Even though it was more work than I anticipated (it always is), I am so glad I went to the trouble of baking so many things from my sister’s cookbook. She died 8 years ago, and I think and hope it made my brother-in-law happy to see her love of baking passed along through her book. Blue Diamond’s theme for the Spring is “Get Your Good Going,” and my way of doing that was to show love to my family through my baking creations.
My sister would have especially enjoyed the beehive basket. Even more so, she would have enjoyed watching my boys hunt for their Easter baskets. When we were kids, she’d bribe us to find her basket for her. For her, the thrill was definitely NOT in the hunt. She just wanted the candy.
P.S. The golden egg in this story is the cookbook, as every single thing I made turned out perfectly. There is no goose or moral, except the one that comes right… about… now…
However you show love, do that today.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Turns out, the above “solutions” don’t always work. When weight lifting and What DO calorie cutting don’t produce the results we want, we feel deprived, hungry, and frustrated. Add menopause into the mix and no wonder we’re fat as hell and not going to take it any more!
Obesity is one of our most serious public health concerns, according to Dr James Hill, one of the world’s top obesity experts and author of State of Slim. No way around it – our nation is fat and getting fatter. Years of evidence tells us what DOESN’T work to prevent weight gain and to reduce body fat. (That’s a link to our post on Reducing Fat. Click to lose). More specifically, the evidence spoke to Dr. Hill, who went on to co-found the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks people who have lost significant weight and kept it off over time.
Obviously as a nation, what we’ve been doing is not working. (Heavy dieting anyone?) But what does work? Armed with data and provable results, Dr. Hill recently filled us in when we interviewed him for our former radio show, Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers.
We highly recommend you click on the link to Fat Loss:What Does and Doesn’t Work to
hear what he has to say about stuck metabolisms and what successful weight losers have in common. Speak to me sagacious one! Our interview has Dr. Hill admitting that when people (and by people, he meant mostly women) came to him in the early days of his wild and trim youth, claiming they’d tried everything to lose weight to no avail and that their metabolism must be the problem, he poo-poohed the idea. (Knowing him, I doubt he actually scoffed, but I suspect he worked his professorial look of compassionate doubt). Then he did what good researchers do — turned to science. Lo and be bold! Turns out there is such a thing as clogged, stuck, non-compliant, downright naughty metabolisms.
Are you ready for the truth? One of the key reasons we midlife women, in particular might not be making headway could be due to having the dreaded “stuck metabolism.” Cutting calories is one of the BEST (secret code for WORST) ways to stay stuck!Cutting calories is one of the WORST ways for midlife women to lose weight and keep it off. Click To Tweet
What the what the what the!?!! Acck, we’re stuck! What exactly is a stuck metabolism? How do we shift gears out of it into its coveted opposite: a flexible metabolism? (Cue the singing lean angels). First, let’s clarify that metabolism simply means the process for converting calories (food) into usable energy.
Pretty sure we’re all clear on what a stuck metab is. Yeah, it’s the one we have right now, that excels at storing fat and holding onto it like my grip on a See’s dark chocolate walnut square. So let’s figure out what constitutes a flexible metabolism. Flexible metabolisers hum along efficiently burning fuel (a not at all fancy way to say “food, glorious food”). Even BETTER, they have the ability to adjust rapidly to ever-changing calorie intake and activity outgo. Flex Met people constantly shift internally to maintain energy balance. Give me a double dose of that, pronto so that I can achieve presto, change-o.
To go from having a stuck (or “inflexible”) to flexible metabolism we have to……..:
After talking with Dr. Hill for our radio show, I am inspired to reread his book, follow his advice, and suck up the two weeks needed to go back to the flexible metabolism I used to have. I need to stay focused on my purpose. (learn how your purpose affects your success rate in another of our stellar posts) I How about you?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Are you time-pressed, overstressed, overbooked, underloved, underfed? Ok, I got a little carried away thinking of “It Never Rains in Southern California.”
Stress can take a toll on your well-being, weight, and ability to enjoy life. When we launched our VoiceAmerica.com radio show, Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers, we interviewed hormone expert, Tamara Grand on the subject of midlife weight gain. In looking at the effects of hormones, Tamara commented on the role stress plays in layering on fat. (Listen to the whole show, but the short story here is that stress triggers the release of cortisol, which slows the body’s metabolism and promotes fat storage). Oy vay, does that short story have an unhappy plot!
This connection between stress and fat levels going up together, triggered an email from one of our radio show listeners:
Good question! Add in the aspect of “easy” being tied to “busy life” and the best methods probably also mean the quickest or least time consuming. The answer is … It Depends. What might be easy for you might be hard–and perhaps even stressful– for me. For example, I find a walk in nature relaxing and stress reducing. Walking outside might be anathema to you. You know I have to mention that even a 5 minute walk outdoors helps release tension.
In researching meditation benefits for our post on its stress reducing aspects we discovered that meditating as short as three minutes make a positive difference.
Taking deep, refreshing breaths is another strategy that is easy, free, and quick.
First, let’s distinguish between chronic and acute stress. And done! Yup, go to our post “Is Stress Making You Fat?” to catch up on what chronic stress can do to you and what you can do it! I feel better already knowing my work on that subject is already written. Whew!
Next, let’s consider more strategies that are easy, effective, and quick. For instance, laughing is a great way to bring cortisol levels down. Oh sha bam – again dropping my stress levels by having you link to this article from WebMD that offers 10 relaxation techniques you can all try. Why work harder than I have to?
What’s left? Ah yes, please also read our post about how stress is a stealth saboteur of your good health. Again, I feel pressure being lifted from my well-toned shoulders being able to refer you to work already finished. Aaaaahhh
However, I am compelled to do a little heavy lifting here. Of all the strategies I encounter, support, and even propose why not go straight to the problem? What is causing the chronic stress in the first place? Would it ultimately be easier, or at least more successful to address the source? For example, if finances are the cause of the stress, then is it time to change either income or expenses? The change might be challenging at first, but easier long term if the problem is solved. Meantime, I plan to use the easy, free, readily available stress reducing strategy of LAUGHING and BREATHING, preferably while WORKING OUT! Hmmm, that means it’s time to call my witty, walking sister.
As I haven’t gone to a wine-tasting in at least 20 years, and when I did it was as the designated driver, I was hopeful that I would blend in (haha, see that little joke there – One Wine is all about wine blends). Just in case my lack of knowledge was embarrassingly apparent, I brought along a ringer to help me. Turns out, the winemakers were quite friendly; not at all snooty or over my head.
I happen to live in Southern California’s wine country. As I live at the top of a mountain pass that leads from S.B. to Santa Ynez, I see the tour jeeps and buses loaded with visitors headed to the wineries every weekend. I mention this in case you decide to come to S.B., stop at Whole Foods for picnic items, then come up and over the Pass for a tour.
Weekend travel aside, I was a bit trepidatious when I walked into the wine section at Whole Foods for the event, as I actually felt a bit of an imposter. What if someone asked me about “legs” or “nose” or any other body part associated with wine knowledge? So I did what I do at fancy restaurants when there are too many fork choices – I watched what other people did and copied them. First thing learned: the mason jars were for pouring out any extra wine in your glass when you’re done tasting. Second thing learned; lots of snacks available!!!
Actually, I learned a lot. One Wine is a collaborative effort between the So. Cal. Whole Foods markets and specific Central California winemakers. The wines selected to be part of the One Wine label are not only affordable, but also produced locally, by hand, in small batches, and support the local economy and land stewardship. For this event, Margerum Wine Company, Ampelos Cellars, Hearst Ranch Winery, and Sextant Wines were on hand.
I tried the 2013 Margerum Rosé (Grenache, Counoise, Cinsault), the 2013 Margerum White Blend (Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc), the 2012 Sextant Zinfandel (Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah), and the 2013 Ampelos Rosé) Syrah, Riesling, Grenache), in that order. If that’s the wrong tasting order, oh well. I kind of did a circle around the room. And I asked why Petite Sirah has an “I,” while Syrah has a “Y,” and learned it has something to do with them being completely different, yet somehow related way back when. Hmm, might have to do some follow-up work on that explanation.
When I confessed my lack of wine knowledge, Rebecca Work, co-owner of Ampelos Cellars advised me to only concern myself with three questions: 1 – Is it yummy; 2 – Do I lick my lips; and 3 – Do I want more? If that’s all it takes, I’m now a connoisseur! As part of my extensive wine knowledge, I’ll share an interesting tidbit. Ampelos Cellars is the first vineyard (2009) in the U.S. to be certified in all three categories: biodynamic, sustainable, and organic.
I can’t say which of these wines you’ll like, but I ended up buying some of the Margerum Rosé.
And right on the label it says only 224 cases were produced. So if you want some of this year’s One Wine blends, you should probably hurry to one of the So. Cal. Whole Foods markets for these Spring 2014 releases. I left a few cases for you.
As part of a Vibrant Influencer Network campaign on behalf of Depend, we are receiving a fee for this post. All the opinions and experiences are our own. Anyway, who would want to steal our opinions and experiences?
I gave birth to two big-headed boys in the mid-90s. I have also taught exercise classes since the early 80s and currently teach at a local club and university. At the U, my students love high impact workouts such as kickboxing, sports drills, HIIT, boot camp … well, you get the drill. Jumpy, bouncy workouts.
Thanks to my boys’ big-headed exits from me, I have to cross my legs when I sneeze or cough if I’m standing. But it’s impossible to cross my legs while doing a jumping jack or burpee. Try it and you’ll see what I mean!
I’ve done Kegels for years, but they only work up to a certain point. So I need a back-up plan. Over the years I’ve tried various mini and maxi pads. I modify my moves as well, to avoid a lot of impact. I have no interest in surgery, as that’s too extreme of a choice for me. So when I was contacted to try the Depend for Women underwear with Fit-Flex protection, I said yes, as I’m probably the perfect fit for their target demographic (<—- see what I did there?). Like you (probably), my first reaction was “What?! I’m too young for those. Aren’t those undies for my parents? But I’m pragmatic, and kind of had a mental checklist:
1. I need something so that I can continue to do high impact workouts
2. I have to wear underwear
3. I might as well try something that combines #1 and #2
So I did end up wearing the undies they sent me for a few of my classes. I definitely felt less worried. Because they are kind of textured like the elastic shirts of the early 70s (wish I had pics from that time), they looked bumpy under my fitness capris. I would love for Kimberly-Clark to come up with a version that’s smooth and shaped like boy shorts. In any case, I folded the top part down, then put a pair of boy shorts over the Fit-Flex undies. That solved it, and I had a smooth line. I think all those layers even gave me a rounder tush! Score!!!!
One little bonus is that you can tear them off. Who cares, right? Well, I teach 3 classes in a row two days a week, and only the first two are impact classes. Without time in between the 2nd and 3rd class to completely undress then re-dress, I just tore them off in under 30 seconds. Not in public.
We’d love to get your comments, suggestions, solutions and opinions. Let us know what works for you.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Alexandra: My physical, emotional and mental fitness is important to me. Ever since January, when I wrote about trying to lose the ten pounds that found me, I’ve been working hard at moving differently (“more” isn’t my issue; adding interval training is) and eating smaller portions. And after comparing how many hours I worked in 2013 with how many hours I spent doing things I enjoy with friends, family, and myself, I also promised myself that I’d spend more time AWAY from the computer in 2014.
Sometimes serendipity comes along, which is how I find myself heading to a local Santa Barbara week-long fitness vacation camp with Sky Ranch Fitness.
As everything the camp offers aligns with our mission and values, we are totally jiggy with that!!! Let’s lay it out for you, and you can decide whether you’d find this appealing or not. The event includes:
Kymberly: When interviewing Dr. Michael for our radio episode, Reframe Your Brain to Heal Chronic Pain, he had a comment that I latched onto as an insta-quote to share with you all:
Is that true for you? When it comes to dealing with deadline stresses, the ache of my knee arthritis, bills, my newly developed plantar fascitis, and a never-shortening “to-do” list, I don’t pay attention to the calming whispers. Worries, pains, anxieties, and the feeling of fleeting time create a cacophony that’s hard to turn off.
Even this amazing, fortuitous offer to attend the new Sky Ranch Fitness spa week started the chatter. “Will we alienate our readers by writing about attending such a high end resort or will mainstream midlifers see this as a retreat worth saving up for?” “Can I get all my work done in two days to be able to immerse myself in the experience for the week?” “Can I take advantage of the hikes the spa week offers given my teaching schedule or should I sub out another class?” “Will my foot and knee restrict me?”
And on and on and on. Chit chat fret fret worry drama. Doesn’t this sound like I need a week off? A week that offers the time and space to allow the nurturing whispers to infiltrate? As a baby boomer, I like to think I have the age and experience to make good decisions. Finding out more about a new, local business that combines two things I hold dear — wellness and Santa Barbara County — seems like an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime.
My goal while at the Sky Fitness Ranch at the Bacara Resort, which I am stating aloud AND whispering in my head is to achieve the healing strategies Dr. Michael summarized in our radio show:
My second goal is to share that experience with you in a future post, so you can achieve the same. Maybe vicariously; maybe in person one day in Santa Barbara.
Photo credits: Stuart Gildred of Sky Ranch Fitness
Disclosure: We were not paid to talk about Sky Ranch, though we did receive the week-long adventure at a seriously discounted rate. Seriously!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
One of the most interesting talks I attended at the recent Natural Products Expo West (NPEW), was a talk on improving memory given by Marilu Henner, sponsored by Ascenta. Best known as an actress, Marilu is also one of 12 people in the world identified as having Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), which is the ability to recall the slightest details of nearly every day of life. In short, Marilu can remember almost EVERYTHING in her life, even baby experiences. Believe me, people in the audience were trying to stump her by throwing out dates and asking what day of the week it occurred on and what was going on at that time. Or they had met her once backstage at a play she was in and wondered if she remembered that meeting. She did — listing even what they both wore, ate, said, and saw. Whoa! Would you want that ability, or even some of it? I wouldn’t mind having SDAM (Sorta Decent Autobio Memory).
Marilu claims we all have the capability to “Receive, Retain, and Retrieve” more memories. Which prompts again the question: Why would we want to recall more memories, especially bad ones? Aside from avoiding dementia, (ok, that’s a pretty big “aside”), what is the value of having a brain full of memories? And how do we go about retrieving more of those hidden stories and events?
According to Marilu, developing a strong autobiographical memory is the best path to a more fulfilling life. She asserts that our memories offer meaning. Her memories inform why she is living each day. As well, she believes that bringing more memories into our awareness allows us to
If you see a connection between having a stronger memory and your life purpose, then you will want to do two things: read her tips below and buy her book, Total Memory Makeover.
Using Marilu’s suggestions, not only can you stop memory decline, but also you can retrieve more memories to enrich your life. That’s the kind of active, health aging I can get behind. Now if only I could remember where I put the rest of my notes from the NPEW trade show and educational sessions!
We’re going to let you in on a non-secret so that you can put it on your radar for next season while it’s still easy to obtain a spot–Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite runs a superior Health and Wellness Retreat.
We just got back from presenting at their first retreat of this kind, and we were blown away by the caliber of the services, presenters, and food. Whether you drive in from California or a neighboring state, or fly into Fresno, then drive into the Sierra mountains, it’s worth a trip.
Tenaya Lodge sits at the gateway into Yosemite, so we knew the scenery was going to be fabulous. What we didn’t know was that the whole experience would be even more so!
In just 48 hours, we:
Ate copious amounts of amazing food created by chef Frederick Clabaugh, CEC, and attended workshops on:
Kymberly presented an edu-taining seminar, Great Gait and Powerful Posture, while Alexandra wore hot pink shorts to lead a rousing Drums Alive class. Oh, did we mention the 90 minute massage we each got? Or the nature hike where we tasted lichen, flowers, berries and pine needles? Hint – the sushi was better.
From the gift basket and personal note at arrival, to the boxed snacks that included San Pellegrino limonata at departure, the entire experience had flourishes and flair. Heck, they even put Kymberly into a room with a jacuzzi tub. Her suite was bigger than the cabin she lived in for eight years, but we won’t remind her of those dark days!
We heard a rumor that Tenaya Lodge might run another retreat in the Fall, so you might want to sign up for their newsletter so you’ll be notified of the dates. We know you take our recommendations seriously, and we say with full confidence that this was a very high-class event at an affordable price.
Disclosure: We were not paid anything to share our opinions, though we did receive the entire retreat as a thank you for the workshops we led. At no point were we asked to write anything except our own truth.