Fun and Fit

Author Archives: Fun and Fit

1

Two “Hidden” Spots in Venice, Italy

On my recent trip to Italy with Design Hounds, I got to visit two places that are hidden in plain view: one on the island of Murano to the north of Venice, famous for its glass-blowers, and the other on Giudecca, the island most people see when standing at St. Mark’s looking south.

view of Murano IslandThe Seguso glassmaking dynasty began in 1397 with Antonio Filux Segusi. Twenty-three generations later (with the 24th in the wings), they are still the premiere creators (and award-winners) of luxurious glass.Seguso Glass Factory, Murano

Our tour included a complete historical overview from co-owner Gianluca Seguso, followed by a visit to the workshop, where we got to see the craftsmen creating beautiful pieces, such as a plate that became a bowl as it was twirled in the air. One thing I learned (the easy way, not the hard way) is that even when glass looks cold, it’s hot. Glad I’m a good listener.Seguso craftsman

As a surprise bonus, we got to enter the private studio of patriarch Giampaolo, who read us a love poem he wrote that’s inscribed on the back of one of his art pieces.Seguso glass

While I can’t guarantee you’ll have a poem read to you, I can say that you can sign up in advance for your own private tour. Like a number of magical places in Venice, it’s a private-ish place that isn’t widely advertised, so you’ll want to plan in advance.

seguso glassAfter we left Murano, our water taxi took us to Fortuny on Giudecca, home to some absolutely gorgeous fabrics. As you get close to the island, look around and notice how the architecture is different from that of Venice. In 1919, founder Mariano Fortuny purchased the land (a former convent that had been closed down by Napoleon) from Giancarlo Stucky, a close friend and owner of the wheat mill next door. That wheat mill is now the very imposing neo-Gothic Hilton Molino Stucky.

Fortuny Door KnockerThe Fortuny property encompasses the fabric showroom and the gardens and home of the former owner, New York interior designer Elsie McNeill Lee, also known as La Contessa. The factory is also on the property, but visitors are not allowed entry in order to maintain Mariano Fortuny’s trade secrets. Fortuny home office

Fortuny gardensAgain, thanks to the prior reservation made by the Design Hounds organizers, we got to see both the showroom (open to the public on weekdays – weekends too in the summer), and the adjacent gardens. As a matter of fact, we came right after major restoration had occurred, and one day before the pool was to be opened. Dang, missed a chance to show off my new bathing suit. Curtains at Fortuny Fabrics

Even if you don’t have a BA in Medieval Studies due to a love of European history, or didn’t grow up performing in musical theatre, thanks to a mom who had degrees in dance and costume design, you’ll still love both Seguso and Fortuny for their aesthetic appeal. Look at any painting of upper class Venetians from a previous century, and you’ll see what I mean.Fortuny fabrics

Text and photos: Alexandra Williams, MA

ACTION: Make it easy on yourself to get the best and latest fitness, movement, and active aging advice. Subscribe today. Grab your freebie once you enter your email. We come to you twice a week.

22

Best Workouts to Burn Fat For Women Over 50

Be Low Fat or Burn Fat?

Alexandra in rain, burn fat, use calories

Secret to Fat Burning: Run Up Hill. Let Rain Rinse off Fat Sweat. Walk Down Hill. Have a Beer. No, Don’t. Water Bottle is Best.

Do you have a goal to be lower fat? Did you know you don’t have to burn fat predominantly in order to lose fat? Whoa. What just happened there??!! Stick with us to get the most accurate fat burning advice directly and subcutaneously!

Let’s walk through the sometimes confusing realities of killing off kilocalories. Once we appreciate the role carbohydrates and fat both serve in providing fuel, then we can understand how to select the “best” workout programs.

But first, when speaking of “the best” programs, we have to mention our recently created “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50.” (Go for it — click that link!)  Even if you’re carrying extra ell-bees around the middle, you can still achieve a strong core. Why not feel more confident, capable, and comfortable in your body as you burn fat and gain amazo abs? Read more here as well: Get Ultimate Abs (Better Yet, A Strong Core)  Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50 - binder image

And, we’re back …. Stick with us to the end where you’ll get 4 fat burning programs to try.

Go Into Deficit to Win as a Loser

First, the goal is to have a caloric deficit to lose any weight. That deficit comes from the age old energy balance equation: take in fewer calories than we put out (eat less); put out more calories than we take in (move more). The entire weight loss picture is far more complex, affected by a myriad of other factors. For more on losing weight and fat, check out To Burn Fat, Do I Go Faster or Slower?  Professional alert warning system activated — it’s not just about cals in and out, though you do have to start there! (Then continue with this post on another surprising factor that affects weight: Is Stress Making You Fat? )

Carbs vs Fats, Welcome the Relatives; Count the Absolutes

Second, is that we break down carbohydrates 40 times faster than fat, with carbs supplying most of the fuel (energy) to power our exercise. Distinguish between absolute and relative numbers when thinking of fat loss. When you exercise with some intensity, you use a higher percentage of carbohydrates compared to fat as the fuel source. However, the highest total of burned calories is what you are going for. For that, you need to suck it up and add some effort.

picture from Pound workout

Drum that Fat Off Your Body with a Sweaty Workout. Don’t Poke Venus Williams with your Drumstick!

Higher intensity exercise burns more calories; however, a long, slow approach is better than what most of the adult population is doing — uh, as in better than not much or nuffink! But a workout with some oomph to it at a higher pace will use more total energy (calories) than the lower intensity plan. Absolutely!

Fat Burning Mythical Zone
So forget needing to be in a “fat burning zone” when making cardio equipment or fitness tech choices. Get in the calorie burning zone, which is also a high carbo burning zone.

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

4 Best Workout Programs for Fat Burning; This Girl is On Fire!

To burn fat and lose weight, one simple rule is to Go as hard as you can, as long as you can, as… Click To Tweet

Third, thanks to international fitness expert, professor, and colleague of ours, Dr. Len Kravitz you get top level practical tips. He shared with us the exciting, proven, no-magic-required realm of the four best training programs to maximize calorie burning and become lower fat! He recommends we try all 4 methods.

  1. Kymberly in tree burning fat and calories

    HITT: High Intensity Tree Training

    High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
    Select a cardio activity you enjoy, such as cycling, running, walking, using a row machine. Go as hard as you can for about 30 seconds. Then recover at a self-selected, variable pace for about 3- 4 minutes. Complete 4-8 rounds for a total workout time of about 30-45 minutes. Dr. Len recommends changing up the mode workout to workout, especially if you have several favorite cardio activities.

  2. Tempo Training
    This fat burning workout has you going at your hardest, fastest tempo for 20 minutes max. Pick a pace you can sustain for this shortened duration and give it your all! Recovery is at the end for as long as you need. That’s it! Simple and hard at the same time.
  3. Split Training
    Ready, set, go for 10 minutes as hard as you can at a pace you can sustain for the time, but no longer. Take a recovery break for as long as you need, up to around 5 minutes-ish. While you can stick with one mode for this method (such as all jump roping), Dr. Len gives the high five to alternating between two activities: treadmill for the work interval; elliptical for recovery, for example.

    Listen to Lenny

    Listen to Lenny

  4. Steady State Training
    Go with this approach when you need a low- to moderate intensity recovery day. Walking is a great activity for the Steady State workout. You want to move comfortably for 30 minutes to one hour at a constant pace that allows you to sustain a conversation. If you launch into a long-winded monologue, pick it up a bit. If you are panting out a few words then having to grab your breath, ease up a bit.

And if you forget all this, simply recite the Kymberly mantra: “Go as hard as you can, as long as you can, as often as you can.” I hear the sizzle of calorie burning already!

ACTION: Make it easy on yourself to get the best and latest fitness, movement, and active aging advice. Subscribe today. Grab your freebie once you enter your email. We come to you twice a week.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

15

I Went to Italy and Fell in Love

I fell in love in Italy. Not with a gondolier or pastry chef, but with architecture, history, new friends, art, the streets and canals of Venice, good design, and a refrigerator.

gondolier in Venice

Can you tell he’s waving directly at me? Yeah, me neither.

Along with a group of designers, I was part of a group that traveled to Venice and Milan. Just to be clear, I’m not an interior designer in any sense. I decorate my home in Early Dust Kitty. But I do know a lot about bribing the organizers wellness, leading an active, healthy life, and travel.

This is my second trip to Europe as the oddball blogger in a group of designers organized by Veronika Miller of Modenus / DesignHounds, and it’s fantastic to see through the designers’ eyes. Our trip was organized around a visit to the Salone del Mobile Milan, probably the world’s biggest kitchen, bath and furniture show. But of course, we spent a few days in Venice, which I’m highlighting here. Stay tuned for an upcoming post with pictures of Milan.

Venice Italy

My first view of Venice from my private water taxi

As you vicariously travel to Venice by scrolling through my pictures, I’ll share some information about Liebherr, one of our trip’s sponsors, plus tell you a story about my attack freezer.

Venice, Italy fire station

This is a fire station in Venice. Look for the red boats.

Canal in Venice, Italy

Sunlight reflected on a canal in Venice.

My younger son and I moved into a rental home that we own a few months ago. As part of our move we said goodbye to our fancy, new refrigerator and hello to a fridge that has only wire shelves that don’t do a great job holding food in place. And anything put in the back of the fridge freezes. Not a winning plan for my Dutch cheese or the celery. But the fridge is still better than the freezer, which has NO shelves at all. This means everything is sort of stuffed in. Every time one of us opens up the freezer door, the contents fling themselves at us and onto the floor. Every. Damn. Time. I hate the freezer with a passion. The freezer reciprocates.

Liebherr wine cooler

The one-touch wine cooler from Liebherr. Waiting patiently for the sommelier.

Liebherr is a German company that makes refrigerators (I should mention the wine coolers too, knowing how much you all like wine). Roughly translated, Liebherr means “Love the Man,” so you KNOW I’m all over that.

Liebherr fridge

Come to mama. Glass shelves and BioFresh drawers. I hope it fits in my carry on.

dinner with Liebherr

Josef is head of sales for Liebherr in North America. You should insist on smoking a bread stick with him every time a fridge or wine cooler gets it wings. Photo credit: Veronika Miller

I found my next refrigerator. It has glass shelves (ooh, aah), is Energy Star rated, and (drumroll please) has BioFresh compartments that keep my fruits, veggies, cheese and fish fresh for days longer than a standard crisper. This last feature had me at “hello.” I’ve even downloaded the free Liebherr BioFresh app in anticipation of receiving this fridge for my birthday (hey, Liebherr, it’s in August). The app tells you how long something would stay fresh in a standard fridge, how long it stays fresh in either the BioFresh or BioFresh-Plus drawer, and how to store it. For example, I picked the Zander fish from the app because it’s similar to my family nickname – Alex-ZANDER-a – get it? The app recommends the DrySafe (low humidity) over the HydroSafe (high humidity) compartment. When it’s wrapped and stored in the DrySafe BioFresh-Plus drawer, the fish stays fresh four times longer than it would in the pitiful excuse of a fridge in my house (and probably yours). I also learned that Zander fish has Vitamins A, B2, D & E, and Minerals Flourine, Iodine and Zinc.

bridge of sighs, Venice, Italy

The bridge in the background is the Bridge of Sighs, as it’s the last bridge prisoners saw on their way to jail

Venice, Italy

This plaza (also known as a campo) was 2 doors from our Venice apartment. And your eyes are correct – the tower leans.

laundry in Venice, Italy

Venetians seem to do their laundry in color categories. Obviously, it was blue day.

Details abound in Venice, Italy

Every square inch of this building and bridge is covered in details.

head detail in Venice, Italy

Close-up of a head over the door in Venice

limoncello in many colors

Limoncello comes in many flavors and colors. Try them all! Not that I did. cough cough

Now I just have to figure out if limoncello counts as a fruit. If so, I can store it in the HydroSafe drawer. Or the wine cooler. Or, you know, drink it immediately. I hereby raise a glass to toast my happy memories of Venice and Milan, and to Liebherr for helping make my dreams come true (both the travel AND the plan to oust my attack fridge).

sunset in Venice

Watching the sun set in Venice, Italy

by Alexandra Williams, MA

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

11

How to Improve Your Brain Today

Skyflying in LA - Kymberly

Lifting My Brain Power and Spirits

Move Your Body to Improve Your Cognition

Scared you’ll lose your memory, mental acuity, or brain function as you age? Have you watched an older loved one’s mental faculties decline, hoping this will not be you one day? Forget hoping and start moving as you have more control over your future brain power than you ever knew.

Exercise Your Way to More Smarts

Cardio exercise has officially moved into #1 spot for best thing you can do for your brain Click To Tweet

Cardio exercise has officially moved into the number one spot for “the best thing you can do for your brain” (AARP Bulletin, Get Moving for a Healthy Brain, Sept 2013, pgs 12-13). Take that crossword puzzles, foreign languages, and musical instruments! (Also touted as great vehicles to boost brain power, but downshifted out of first place given the latest research).

If you want to keep smart, cut your risk of Alzheimer’s in half, repair brain cell damage, and basically grow a bigger brain, you’ve got to dance, baby, dance! Face facts midlifers and baby boomers — if you do not eke out at least 150 minutes of cardio per week, your brain actually shrinks every year post 40, year after sedentary year.

Perform 150 minutes of cardio per week, to prevent your brain from shrinking post 40 years Click To Tweet

Devote 150 Minutes to Add Life to Your Years and to What Lies Between Your Ears

But if you want to increase your brain size and capability — cue harps and trumpets —  then find a way to work in about 22 aerobic minutes each day.  Or 50 minutes three times a week. Or 75 minutes twice a week. I can do this math for you because I boosted my brain teaching step class and walking my dogs. We’re easy around here how you get to the total and new studies support that ease. Sure walking for weight loss is wonderful (read our post on what walking can do for you). Walking for brain gain is even more powerful and impactful! Or try dancing, swimming, getting on a treadmill, biking, hiking, gardening even (could this be any easier? No I am not going to include watching Dancing With the Stars on this list even though I admit total fanaticism for the show.) It really does not take much time or effort to succeed with a brain fitness program.

TV Watching with the remote and a beer. Feet up

No

powerwalking in winter at Lake Tahoe

Yes

Maybe

Maybe.  Never sure whether Alexandra is good for your brain or not. heh heh

Get a Sexy, Tantalizing Hippocampus

Let me stress again how powerful movement is for your brain — each and every time you exercise, you get a bigger hippocampus (that’s sexy talk for the post 50 crowd); you stimulate the growth of new neurons; you cut your risk of dementia by 60 percent. Can I get a rah rah here with a pom pom thrown in please?

The better your brain, the better your life. Move to think and live better Click To Tweet

Dr Michale Luan yoga pose with fitness ball

Dr Michael Luan Balances Body and Brain

As Dr. Michael Luan, a friend and expert on Conscious Movement puts it, “We exercise to become better humans. Conscious Movement evolves your brain. The body is your ultimate tool for success, and we all have the potential for greatness. Success with your body creates success with your career, relationships, and ultimately, your life.”  The better your brain, the better your life, wouldn’t you say?

Movement will improve your focus, increase your mood, enhance your decision-making processes, help your ability to plan, regenerate brain cells, help your memory, and basically outsmart all those young people who can’t believe how sharp you are for a person your age.

ACTION: Improve your brain and body at least twice a week when you subscribe to our blog. Enter your email and claim your free bonus while you’re at it.

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

5

Exercise, Confidence, and Attractiveness

Does exercise make you feel more confident and attractive? According to research, the answer is Yes.

happy friendsIn 2014, Mayo Clinic released a study that stated, “Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.”

Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Click To Tweet

And the journal Evolution and Human Behavior did an analysis that noted, “this study provides limited empirical evidence that more facially attractive people (N = 100) may be physically healthier than unattractive people.” Makes me wonder if the reverse is true – are healthier people more facially attractive?

In both my education and writing career, I use (and respect) good research, yet I wonder how much culture influences our self-perception of our attractiveness.

Grove of tressI am especially wondering this lately, as I recently went on a walk with one of my best friends. I’ve known her for over 30 years, and she has always been considered attractive. I find her to be still attractive, and have assumed she had the same opinion. She exercises regularly and is very disciplined about her health habits. Yet (after a 6-mile hike together), she mentioned being frustrated about her weight and “unattractiveness.” I put it in quotes because I strongly disagree with her, so refuse to give it legitimacy.

According to research, all her exercise and healthy habits should lead to her feeling pretty dang good about herself. Yet that definitely wasn’t the case. If she were in Russia or Greece (or most any other country), she’d be the cultural ideal (think blond hair, blue eyes and Marilyn Monroe curvy). Yet here in the U.S. we still reward women who are size 0 (how can someone be a null and actually exist) or 4. The average U.S. woman is size 12, so quite clearly reality and cultural expectations are not in sync.

Do you judge yourself by your smiles or by your weight? Why accept outdated cultural norms? Click To Tweet

This makes me sad. Women, whether your age is 35 or 55, do you judge yourself unfairly, with an emphasis on looks? How often do you judge yourself based on your health? I have several friends with lifelong issues (MS, Hashimoto’s), yet every day they work really hard to have good health. To me, they are attractive because their faces reflect their determination, spirit and feistiness.

post-exerciseBe honest, do you judge yourself by your smiles or by your weight? Why do we accept outdated cultural norms? Why do we compare ourselves to our 25-year-old selves? How can we possibly win against unrealistic opponents such as these?

When I was a grad student in systemic counseling, we learned the expression “Fake it till you make it.” It was advice for our clients, based on cognitive-behavioral theory. I think it’s good advice, and I use it on myself.

Here’s how – My “resting” face is more of a frown than a smile. I don’t have the classic nose, cheeks, eyes or chin that our culture says is beautiful. Yet I don’t want to be 75 and wish I’d appreciated my 50-year-old self. When I was 50 I regretted not appreciating my 25-year-old self, and vowed not to do that to myself anymore. So I tell myself NOW that I’m good-looking. I work on my posture, which is an easy way to look more confident. And if you look more confident, you feel more confident. “Fake it till you make it” in action. I pose for lots of photos and I smile in them all. Then I post the best ones online so other people can comment about how much fun I’m having. My brain hears that and the repetition makes it part of my self-concept that I have a fun life. When someone tells me I look great, I say, “I agree (except on genuinely bad photos, such as a recent close-up of my sweaty nose).”

Alexandra in West Berlin 1983

See how adorable I was at 25? Yet, no smile. I thought I was ugly.

Vista Point, Palm Springs

The is me now – the cutest cutie-pie you ever did see. Because I’m smiling.

Focus on good posture. If you look more confident, you'll feel more confident. Click To Tweet

If I tell myself I’m attractive, fun and confident, that’s what I’ll exude. And that’s how I’ll be perceived. So this post is dedicated to my truly beautiful friend, and I hope every woman who reads this thinks I’m talking to her. Dear ________, you are attractive, fun, and confident. It will make me very happy if you would do me the honor of agreeing.

ACTION: Now, get out there and kick some ass. And subscribe while you’re at it. You’ll look, feel, and move better for it.

Alexandra Williams, MA

Photo credit for birthday party: Ross Barrett.

FYI, none of the fabulous women in these photos are the friend I mentioned, though they are all definite hotties too.

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

4

Women Over 50 – Boxing Is For Us! Guest Post from Nancy Somers

Everlast Boxing gloves3 Great Reasons to Take Up Boxing Post 50

Like most women over fifty, I was brought up not to hit or harm anyone. Girls don’t hit. End of story. Words such as jab, hook, counter punch were not words I used.

But then, there I was at my local gym, on a stair-climbing machine, putting in my obligatory thirty minutes. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman of a certain age, like myself, boxing. She was giddy, smiling and sweaty, jabbing with her pink gloves, swiveling hips, moving her entire body in a dancing rhythm, and having fun. And fun was not what I was having on the stair climber. Why couldn’t I box, I thought? Why couldn’t I have so much fun at the gym? I wanted what she was having.

Girlfriends—Boxing is for us!

Yes, us, women over fifty! I am here to tell you that boxing is simply the best cardio gift we can give ourselves. Fitness boxing—sometimes called non-contact boxing because you never hit another person—isn’t brutish or aggressive. So, here I am, age 64, with my own red boxing gloves and some newly-defined muscles, having almost too much fun at the gym.

At first, I kept thinking “this isn’t something I should be doing—really, is it okay to hit?” But with each jab, I overcame my reluctance as I punched the trainer’s resistance mitts. This deeply-ingrained cultural training—girls don’t hit—prevents most women over fifty from considering boxing. But nobody is hitting me, and I’m not fighting anyone. No gritty boxing ring is needed. And as I’m learning the techniques of boxing from my trainer, Kingsley, I’m appreciating the beauty in the sport, especially the artistic athleticism it requires. In boxing, power starts in the hips, requiring every muscle to serve a purpose, linking hands and hips in a dancer’s rhythm.

Women Over 50: Have you thought of strapping on boxing gloves? This 64 year old found fun and… Click To Tweet

If you’ve never thought about how much fun it would be to hit that punching bag at your gym– if words such as jab, cross, hook, and uppercut aren’t in your vocabulary yet—buy or borrow a pair of boxing gloves.

Three big reasons to start boxing today:

  1. Physical: From the first moment you throw a punch, you are breathing heavily, heart pumping, arms, chest, shoulders, core, and legs working in unison. Boxing burns over 500 calories/hour, builds lean muscle, develops stamina and endurance, and ramps metabolism. As we age, we lose muscle mass, strength, flexibility, and balance. Boxing reverses this trend, giving us back what we lose, developing hand-eye coordination and entire body strength.  For women over fifty, boxing is one of the most complete cardiovascular and resistance workouts…and it is fun.Put on gloves
  2. Mental: Boxing forces women out of our comfort zone, overcoming fears, and requiring 100% mental concentration. It is demanding and strategic, stimulating new parts of our brain, challenging our minds and bodies.  The research on successful aging urges us to learn something new, strategic, and to keep testing ourselves with new sequences and moves. Sure we can push our minds doing Sudoku and crossword puzzles, learning new foreign languages, even attempting to learn new card games, but boxing is both physical and mental. To box is to be steeped in rhythm and movement, coordinating the swing of hips, the swivel of feet, and the power of the arms. It is exhausting, exhilarating, rigorous, and immensely rewarding.
3 Reasons women over 50 should consider boxing their way to happiness and health Click To Tweet
  1. Spiritual: It might seem paradoxical that something so physical can be so spiritual, that stillness can be found in movement, but boxing, like meditation, focuses attention and calms the mind.  When boxing, my mind unplugs from daily details and responsibilities, from the noise and chatter of the outside world. Nothing works in boxing without one’s complete attention and concentration.  If my mind is rushing through a to-do list, my coordination is off; if I’m rehearsing an argument with my boss, my arms flail and my feet trip. And my daughter, Alex, a marathoner, who now boxes, finds it the perfect way to calm her mind and relieve stress from her New York City life. For Alex and for me, our boxing mantra—when life gets tough, put on your boxing gloves—seems a spiritual metaphor for life, too.

One day I hope, in the words of Muhammad Ali, “to float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”—light on my feet, with a quick, penetrating jab. I’m not there quite yet, but I’m hooked–hooked on boxing.

Bio: Nancy Sommers loves boxing and cycling, swimming and hiking, yoga and pilates–all fabulous and fun ways to stay fit. When she’s not boxing, she’s writing blogs, essays, and college textbooks. Nancy directed the Harvard College Writing Program and now teaches writing at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

ACTION: Please comment below to let Nancy know what you think of boxing as a way to Hit to Get Fit! Might you give it a go? 

5

Can Boomer Women Be Sexy?

Back in the olden days (the late 70s), I thought my parents were really old when they got into their early fifties. Sadly, I subscribed to the idea that everyone over 30 was just….. so…… old….
How could anyone that old have even a soupçon of sex appeal?

La Boheme dance group at Solstice partyNow I laugh at my arrogant youthful self. Hahahaha. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

The tides have turned, and nowadays I see all kinds of things on social media that celebrate Boomer women. Of course, brands are still focused on pitching “age defying” skin products to us, supplements to “keep us young,” and independent living products. Guess what?! We don’t see ourselves as old and infirm or in need of “fixing.” We just want the same things we wanted at 30, but with wisdom attached.

dancing at Casa MagazineFor example, in my twenties I loved to go disco dancing. I still love it. The difference is that it’s no longer easy to find a venue that offers it. And I don’t have a wrap skirt. Back then my younger sister and I would parade back and forth to the ladies’ room a lot, as an excuse to check out the guys let the guys check us out. If I made more than one trip to the bathroom at a public place now, people might think I have bladder issues, but I still like to check out the handsome guys. Just not the ones in their twenties.

There isn’t an age or specific date when we lose our desire to look attractive and feel sexy. Or if there is, no-one told me. And I don’t want them to. One of the many benefits to being older is that I don’t really care what other people think of me. I care what I think of me. I earned my confidence and right to be seen.La Boheme dancers performing at Soho

After a fairly rough 2015, I decided to join the La Boheme dance troupe here in Santa Barbara. I am not a professional dancer. I am a person who likes to dance. It’s stress-reducing. It helps keep my brain sharp. It’s a chance to make new friends. Most importantly, it’s fun. We wear some wild costumes. By “wild” I mean “super sexy.” Not once have I heard anyone suggest we are too old to wear these costumes. But I have heard people saying how happy they are to see women older than 20 doing dance performances in town. And we get a lot of compliments about great we look. Not “for our age,” just great. Period. As you look at these pictures, are you surprised that most of the women in them are in their 40s and 50s? One is even in her 60s. Just sayin’.
pink birthday party with La Boheme
So if you are a Boomer women who wonders if you’ve got “it,” wonder no more. All you need is a smile, attitude, and confidence. Be flirty. Dance in public. Say thank you to compliments without adding caveats that negate that compliment. And if you don’t think you can do that, act as if you can. Fake it till you make it. You’ll see.

La Boheme dancers in the 2015 Solstice ParadeAnd if you’re in the Santa Barbara area, join the La Boheme dancers. We are going to be in the annual Solstice Parade. The theme is “Legends.” Practices start April 12th. Come to a meet and greet to learn more at Brasil Arts Cafe on State Street at 7PM.

As to me, I’ll be over here disco dancing. Bee Gees and Boomer Hotties Rule Forever.

by Alexandra Williams, MA

Photo credits: Ross Barrett, Gilbert Cruz and me.

 

14

Live Better with Meditation, Menopause, and Memory

Longevity, Memory, and Mood Benefits of Meditation

Rancho la Puerta flowers and statues

Who wants a solution to reduce menopause symptoms, decrease stress, minimize weight gain, improve memory, and even boost longevity?

Kymberly: Those who know what a high energy, chatty, loquacious, interactive mover and groover I am will be surprised to hear the answer coming from me. (Or not, as you already saw this post’s title. Menopause might make us forgetful, but not stoopid.)

 Anyone else find menopause a little stressful? In the award winning category of  “Stating the Obvious,” menopause stress can contribute to memory loss and weight gain. As in, “I sure don’t remember gaining those 30 pounds.”

The “No Exercise Plan” to Live Longer, Leaner, and Kinder

Anyway… turns out Meditation can turn back the hands of time and pounds. Additionally meditation has even been proven to make us nicer, kinder, more compassionate people. (Hear that hubster? I’m not menopot moody. I’m meditation deprived). If you want to breathe more life into yourself, read our post on meditation lite). Also check out my Tip #3  in our post “10 Ways to Get Healthier in Under 10 Minutes.”

Just a few daily minutes of meditation can calm us, reduce stress, and slow our heart rate. Sounds a lot like the benefits of exercise, right? But without moving! Meditation may also reverse the effects of aging on the brain. It thickens the prefrontal cortex, the area of brain that helps with planning and attention. For people with memory loss, meditation helps increase memory via more blood flow to brain. But wait, there’s more! Meditation also decreases our body’s stress hormones, heals our wounds faster, and lowers our blood pressure.

Meditation may reverse the effects of aging on the brain Click To Tweet
Which twin has the longer telomeres? Not telling!

Which twin has the longer telomeres? Not telling!

Longer Telomeres = Longer Life; Tell It Telomeres!

Factor in recent studies that show meditation increases telomere length, and you have your longevity, happier life bonus plan! In the DNA world, telomeres are the little plastic pieces on the end of our chromosome shoelaces. The longer your telomeres, the longer your life span. Short telomeres accelerate aging and correlate to a shorter life. People who meditate daily for at least four years have longer telomeres than those who do not meditate. For ten added quality years of life, be the first to enter the word in the comments for that plastic shoelace piece without having to google it. Hint: It starts with an “a.”

I’ll take an order to go please of a young, long-living brain garnished with my years of experience. Since I have big plans to be around four years from now, I might as well get on that telomere lengthening program.

Meditation Room at Rancho la Puerta

Meditation Room at Rancho la Puerta

Meditation Options: From Silent to Guided

On when of my guest teaching trips to Rancho la Puerta Fitness Resort, I decided to attend three meditation classes. Loved them! Not only did I stay still and quiet for record time (ok, half an hour for each), but also I have stuck with meditation since coming home. More on that later in this post. Remember to keep reading!

The sessions were totally different from each other: one was a guided visualization that the instructor talked us through from start to finish. Another was a silent meditation with the instructor giving directions and suggestions at the start, then setting a timer that lulled us back at the end. The third had verbal guidance that segued into soft music and nature sounds. All three meditations left me revved, calmed, and focused enough to learn more. One thing the Ranch teachers stressed — perhaps better to say “emphasized” — is that meditation comes in many forms and styles. Pick one or a few approaches that resonate with you, as there is no right or wrong way. We reap the active aging benefits regardless, in as short as seven hours in some cases.

Support Your New Habit with Meditation Apps

10 Minute Meditation App

Meditate Now App

Meditation App Calm

My current fave: Calm

Since I am a meditation novice I asked one teacher whether having phone apps would help. Cha Ching – Ohmmm! That got a resounding thumbs up, heart rates down as a good idea! As soon as I crossed the border back into the U.S. (also known as “covered rate plan for my cell phone”), I downloaded “Relax and Rest,” “Take a Break,” “Calm,” and “Meditate Now.” All are free. So far my favorite is “Calm” as it offers verbal guidance and a 7 day progressive program. My mind wanders less when I have a voice calling me back from my mental to-do lists, thoughts of the past and future, and sleep’s siren call. Try them if you have a smart phone and are wanting to reap meditation benefits. Heck, you may end up with a youthful, sleek, brainy phone once you download these apps!

I am on Day 6 of meditation, with some sessions lasting 5 minutes, others hitting an ambitious 13! So far I have noticed a bit more ability to focus and my creativity has been on the upswing. I thought of this post title after meditating, for one thing! Now to be nice to my sister. Might need those four years of meditative practice first. snarfle snark

Alexandra relaxing at Rancho la Puerta

Alexandra looking memorable if not meditative

Alexandra: I was going to meditate, but I forgot. Maybe next time.

Use meditation to help you remember to subscribe to our blog. We come to you twice a week with professional, proven, active aging advice.

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

 

1

Benefits of Organic Food: Did You Know…?

Like many of you, I prefer organic food to industrial; made-from-scratch to processed. I will freely admit to being biased. Yet my preference is based on science and experience. Whether you have a strong opinion for or against organic, or just don’t care one way or the other, you may be interested in these tidbits I picked up at a meeting last week at the Natural Products Expo West.

organic milk photo: Milk milk.jpgOrganic milk has nutritional advantages over conventional – In a meta-analysis of 170 published studies, researchers found that organic milk had 56% higher healthy omega-3 fatty acid levels than conventional milk. The study, led by Carlo Leifert of Newcastle University, also found that organic dairy provides other health benefits such as higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (why do I always think of French verbs when I hear the word “conjugated”?), iron, carotenoids, and Vitamin E. The milk in this study is bovine, not plant-based.

Switching from a conventional 2 #organic diet reduced pesticides in children in just 7 days.… Click To Tweet

An organic diet can reduce exposure to some pesticides – According to a study run by UC Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (along with U of Maryland’s Institute for Applied Environmental Health & Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, 40 Mexican-American children living in agricultural and urban communities in California reduced their exposure to some pesticides by switching to an organic diet. The two highlights of this study are that a number of the children reside in agricultural communities, and that the improvements were seen after only a week. “An organic diet was significantly associated with reduced urinary concentrations of nonspecific dimethyl OP insecticide metabolites and the herbicide 2,4-D in children.”

honeybee flower photo: Honeybee DSC_7638.jpgNeonicotinoids pose a high risk to the bee population – Wonder what a neonicotinoid is? Notice how it seems like the word “nicotine” is in the middle of the word? From the Oxford Dictionary: “Any of a class of synthetic compounds having a chemical structure similar to that of nicotine and related alkaloids, used as systemic insecticides on plants and as topical or systemic insecticides on animals.” All you need to remember is BAD. The bee population has been decimated over the past few years, and a lot of scientific data suggest a link to neonicotinoid pesticides use. Want some GOOD? “The presence of native habitat in close proximity to farms may sfeguard wild bees from the negative effects of pesticide use.”

If you want to focus on a few veggies and fruits that are most affected by pesticide, these are the dirty dozen:

Apples
Celery
Cherry tomatoes
Cucumbers
Grapes
Nectarines
Peaches
Potatoes
Snap peas
Spinach
Strawberries
Sweet bell peppers

And if you are budget-conscious (aren’t we all?), this chart may help you see that the costs of organic vs conventional are quite similar.chart comparing organic and conventional

Alexandra Williams, MA

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

24

6 Practical Fitness Tips for Older Adults

locked gate

Unlock 6 Secrets to Aging Well

The aging population is big and getting bigger as we baby boomers continue our march, hop, skip, and jump into the next decade. Do you plan to continue working out while anticipating and minimizing stresses on your “not getting any younger” body? But how?

Based on 1) our group fitness teaching experience, 2) educational events we attend focused on serving the needs of active older adults, and 3) Kymberly’s certification as a Functional Aging Specialist, we suggest the following:

Exercise to slow down aging

Hang On a Sec, or a Dec…ade!

Minimize Ab Exercises that Depend on Head Lifting

1) Reduce ab work that requires forward spinal flexion such as crunches. Decades of hunched posture and rounded shoulders take a toll on the spine. Look for opportunities to strengthen your abs that do not require more forward curvature. So long “old lady” back hump; hello stronger abs and a more comfy neck! Reverse curls, planks, and abs exercises that keep your head on the floor and lower spine protected are great options.

Reverse curls and planks protect your spine while strengthening your abs. Click To Tweet

Want to see one of those options? Then head over to Abs and Core Exercises Safe for the Lower Back. Eager to get more for your core? Read this post as well: Get Ultimate Abs: Better Yet, a Strong Core.  In fact, if you want heaps of No Crunch moves designed for the young at heart, but older in body, click this link to a program we created: The Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50

The ability to hop or jump, even if low and close minimizes risk of falling. Click To Tweet
Side Planks with Stability Balls

Forward Looking, But No Forward Flexion

Create Instability to Increase Stability

2) Integrate stability ball activities into your exercise program. The ball is a great tool, as you can do both cardio and toning with it. For example, did you know you can lie on your back and relax your head while doing an exercise to strengthen your obliques?

Take a look at this video for ideas:

Obliques Side-to-Side Abs Exercise with the Stability Ball: Right and Wrong Way to “Trim the Waist.”

Here at Fun and Fit: Active Aging Answers for Boom Chicka Boomers, we love anything that combines lying down with exercise. No, we don’t mean what you just thought! Hmm, come to think of it, having sleek abs and a strong core can improve your sexy status. Again we suggest you take advantage of our “Ultimate Abs” digital product.Ultimate Abs binder image

Consider Your Transitions from Floor to Feet

3) Organize your workout from standing to sitting to kneeling to lying down or vice versa in order to minimize the times you get up and down from the floor. Having said that, do practice coming from lying to standing as part of your workout. You can even make this an exercise. Try going from standing to sitting to standing without putting a hand on the floor and you’ll see what we mean.

This ability is so important that we made a short video about it for you. Watch and test yourself with the: Sitting to Rising Test. Not so easy was it?

Add Power Back Into Your Day

4) Integrate two-footed take-offs and landings into your activities. The ability to hop or jump, even if low and close minimizes risk of falling. Most people stop jumping and doing any power moves as they age. However, unless joint pain precludes even small jumps, having power becomes more important for injury prevention with age. Click this link to see more on power training and avoiding falls.

The ability to hop or jump minimizes risk of falling. Click To Tweet
Flowers at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Resort

We Said “Boomin’ and With It,” not “Bloomin’ Idiots.”  Darn Hearing Issues!

Ask Yourself Whether Any Senses are Slowing or Going

5) Note any changes in your capabilities and account for them in your workout plan.  For instance, is your vision deteriorating? Could that be affecting your balance given the role sight plays in staying upright and balanced? If so, incorporate more balance training into your exercise program.

Tone Down Turns and Twists

6) For cardio training, maximize movements that take you forwards, backwards, and sideways. However, cut down on quick turns, pivots, and sharp direction changes. Such moves can throw you off balance and tax your knee joints if you cannot anticipate them to react with perfect form.

Doing power moves & 2 footed hops becomes more important for injury prevention with age Click To Tweet

If you are a fitness pro who wants to work with baby boomers and “matures”, this magazine article, What Older Adults Want  by Alexandra will tell you what older adults desire from their teacher.

Feel young and sprightly when you subscribe to our blog. 

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

1 2 3 52