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Visit Oaks at Ojai for Mother-Daughter Delight

Walking trail in Ojai Mother-Daughter weekend

Ojai makes it easy to want to take walks

Go Here for Active, Quality Mother-Daughter Time

Riding a bike, taking fitness classes, walking in nature, exploring new places — these are a few activities I really like. What I LOVE is spending time with my daughter. Therefore, when the Oaks at Ojai offered me the opportunity to visit their spa for a weekend with her, I skipped and hopped right over. (Actually I also lay on a massage table that involved a pixie orange scrub and appealing scents. A visit to the Oaks includes some relaxation too, for sure!).

Although the Oaks at Ojai in southern California bills itself as “the only spa retreat in the US designed for women over 40,” my 24 year old and I found a lot to do. We could easily have stayed much longer on our Mother-Daughter weekend.

Where to go for a fun, active, generation linking Mother-Daughter retreat? #Oaksspa Click To Tweet

We baby boomer women are smart and clever moms, right? Many of us also have grown daughters whom we’d love to spend more time with. Am I right again? Let’s just say I found it easy to entice my one and only up from LA to meet me for a weekend of pool classes, hikes in the nearby mountains and meadows, massages, window shopping, and healthy dining.

Mother-Daughter weekend at the Oaks- Karina and the tub

Spa within a spa!

We both got a kick out of our spacious room and bathroom. I convinced myself that even if I snored, our beds were so big, comfy, and spread out that my daughter would not hear me. That turned out to be true but it could have been the fact that she hit the cardio equipment and hot tub so was merely exhausted. My blog, my version rules (heh heh).

On our second morning I opted to hike alone while my daughter headed to her massage. We reconnoitered for lunch, where I promptly spilled my iced tea. Yes, we can still embarrass our children even when they’re grown. (Note to those considering a trip to the Oaks at Ojai – they were very kind about my mishap.) We managed to fit in a bike ride and lounge time at the spa as well. That evening we ventured to a trail on the edge of town where we both fell in love with the views and plantings along the way.Mother-Daughter bike ride at Oaks at Ojai

The balance we found between active and relax time; between together and apart time must have been perfect given my daughter’s question as we checked out. “Mom, when can you take me here again?” We baby boomer moms know the translation for that is: “when can you pay for me to come with you again?”  Hey, none too soon. Though the Oaks at Ojai comped us this visit, it does not hurt to dangle the “return on my dime” carrot to have another Mother-Daughter retreat at one of the area’s most accessible, affordable, longtime spas. Spaaaaaaahhhhhhh!

Mother-Daughter weekend/ Baby frog in hand Oaks at Ojai

The wildlife. Other than my daughter, I mean

Mother-Daughter goodie bag in Ojai

We’re good with the goodie bag that greeted us

To see more pretty pictures and stories of past adventures at the Oaks at Ojai, read these posts my clever sister wrote:

The Perfect Getaway: The Oaks Spa in Ojai

Tangerine Dream: It’s Pixie Month at The Oaks at Ojai Spa

Action: Subscribe to get the latest on active adventure and tips on aging actively direct from fitness pros.

Kymberly Williiams-Evans, MA

 

Get Ready for Redding, Active Vacation Wonderland

Plank, bridge, Kymberly Redding, Burney Falls active vacation

Still planking after all these years.

Take an Active Vacation

Within 30 minutes of arriving at my Redding Marriott hotel, I was already planning my next visit to the area. Maps of biking and hiking trails lay before me. I could already see that my husband and I would not have time to ride and walk all the nifty, scenic paths Redding has to offer. Therefore I made a mental promise to return to hit the bike path from Shasta Dam to the Sundial Bridge. In that moment, though, the hubster and I were changing into our bike shorts to wheel along the river trail, as it lay mostly in shade on this HOT summer day.

bike riding SacramanttoRiver trail Kymberly active vacation

Shade in the Redding summer, how I crave you.

Who enjoys road trips, but hates sitting in the car for hours on end? Who likes to head places where you can be active, get outdoors, yet not overdo the exercise thaaang? Do you also love nature, scenery, and hardly any traffic, followed by healthy restaurant food and a comfy hotel room at the end of a day? If so, then head to Redding which has a TON of recreational activities to offer, especially for the over 50 funseeker, all within easy striking distance.

When I was offered the chance to Visit Redding on my way to catch the total eclipse in Oregon, I jumped. Well, I don’t actually jump after knee replacement. But I happy danced a bit. (Thanks VisitRedding for sponsoring our short vacay within a longer vacay). My sister and I had visited Redding a year ago (check out what we discovered in the posts below). We noted that it was perfect for active baby boomers who want to get out and about, burn some calories, and generally move a bit when taking in sights — all on a really reasonable budget.  Visiting again for 3 days with the hubster, who just retired, sounded perfect. (Keep scrolling down to find out about the freebies).

Redding: For Those Who Enjoy the Outdoors

 

Redding: Kayaking, SUP Yoga, Hiking, Aqua Golf & Lorikeets

The area has so much to offer that is accessible, fun, and beautiful. Yeah, it’s hot as all get-out in the summer, but you can still find a lot to do if you plan your activities by where the shade is. For us, that meant unloading our bicycles and pedaling almost 10 easy miles along the mostly flat Sacramento river trail starting at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park. You’ll find water fountains, bathrooms, yet few people along the way whether hiking or biking, so definitely add this to your plans. Parking is free, so no excuses.

Who likes to travel where you can be active, get outdoors, yet not overdo the exercise thaaang? Click To Tweet

Cool Tips for a Hot Time

Redding trip Lassen Lake logs

Definitely recommend the walk around Manzanita Lake in Lassen Park

And what could be cooler than to visit Shasta Caverns or the Subway Cave, less than an hour away? Climbing the few steps down into the Subway Cave opening led us to a refreshing, DARK lava tube where the temperature drooped by about 15 degrees. Hey, just taking in my first lava tube sounded enticing. Combined with the chance to walk — flashlights or a flashlight app on your cell phone required — this adventure was worth the short drive. Hot tip, or rather cool tip — when you get to the end of the Subway Cave, instead of climbing up and walking back to the parking lot in the heat, simply turn around and retrace your steps inside the lave tube. Turn off your light at some point and savor the pitch black.

Free for All, Especially Active Over 50 Year Olds

Notice that so far the activities have been FREE (except the tour of Shasta Caverns, which is worth the fee plus you get to rack up more movement climbing the cave stairs). My kind of active adventure. Additional free attractions beckoned.  To be more accurate, once you pay the respective park entrance fees, everything you do inside the parks is free. Oh, and another hot tip — hang onto the car sticker showing you paid your entrance fee as it’s good at other parks in the area for up to 7 days.

Water, Water Everywhere

McArthur Burney Falls actve vacation

Burney Falls. We really fell for it and the nice hike nearby

Consider Burney Falls State Park if you want more shaded, achievable, moderate hiking in your day. Continue past the majority of visitors who walk down to the falls, cool off in the spray, snap a selfie, then head back to their cars. No sireee — for those who want a little more from their trips, follow the trail along the river as it meanders past a few small bridges, then up into more trees. Don’t you still want to get in your daily 10,000 steps without overdoing it?  Totally pleasant, well-marked trail and another moderate intensity activity to add to your lifetime memories.

Our tasting tour at Lucero Olive Oil started our visit off with quality

From waterfalls to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, take in more water adventure. Did you know you can book free ranger guided kayaking tours on Whiskeytown Lake? Sure, you need to call ahead to reserve a kayak. Like a day ahead, so you can be sort of spontaneous. The rangers want people to visit, take advantage of the lake, and connect with nature. Ergo – free kayaking. This kayak program is the deal of the day so be sure to check it out. The lake is less than 20 minutes from Redding. No traffic, easy drive. The hubs and I opted for the sunset paddle, which turned out to be a smart choice. We avoided midday heat and had most of the lake to ourselves — just the ranger, 5 other kayakers, and 3 people fishing in the bays we paddled into.

We packed in so much in our 3 days and still did not come close to taking in everything. I have now traveled to Redding and the area around it – Shasta, Lassen, Whiskeytown — in spring and summer. Next on my active vacation adventure list is to go back in fall. My goal is to bike ride along every path marked “easy” and “moderate.” Nothing “hard” about what we baby boomers can do in Redding!

Craft beer week tags for volunteers Redding

Those crafty beer week Volunbeers!

Redding craft beer

The Fruit Shall Set You Free! Or at least the fruity craft beer will.

DISCLOSURE: VisitRedding sponsored our 3 days in the area, including VIP tickets to Opening Night of the Redding Craft Beer week (Keeping the hubs happy) and a personal Lucero Olive Oil tasting tour which appealed to both our sets of taste buds. Calories burned were on me. Hotel, meals, and entrance fees were on them.

ACTION: Go to Redding. I’ll go with you. Oh, and subscribe if you are so inclined and have not yet claimed your free bonus for joining our active aging community.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

 

 

 

 

1

Sleep Your Way to Better Memory

alexandra sleeping at Naturpedic booth

Way to boost memory!

Remember Sleeping Well?

Can you really sleep your way to a better memory? Sound too good to be true? Believe, believe!

Wait a second though. Isn’t our blog focused on active aging? How active can sleep be? (Not referring to sleep walking if you wondered.) Since we define “active aging” as making good choices about wellness, exercise, movement, and health habits, then sleep habits definitely come into play.

If you’ve been reading our posts for a bit, you know my sister and I have a particular interest in the connection between the brain and body.

Newly researched pink noise is a real memory booster #Babyboomers #Activeaging Click To Tweet

Pinky Promise that You’ll Improve Your Memory

ornament bear in jammies

Jammies time; Go for pink

Guess what? Do you use background sounds to help you sleep? While “white noise” such as a static, steady background hum nicely lulls us to sleep, newly researched “pink” noise is a real memory booster. Pink noise offers rhythmic variation with a mix of high and low frequencies. Examples might include falling rain, waves lapping at a shore, or an oscillating fan. White noise is steady and eventually gets ignored by the brain; pink noise has an intermittent quality that keeps your neurons firing, positively affecting memory storage during deep sleep stages.

What's wrong with your workout

Someone did not get enough sleep

Getting enough quality sleep becomes more problematic with age. As we get older, we sleep more lightly and get less deep sleep. Aging is also linked to shorter time spans of sleep, although studies show we still need as much sleep as when we were younger. The exciting aspect about pink noise is that the study (from Northwestern University) focused on older adults, who performed better on memory tests after just one night listening while snoozing.

Already well established is that:

  • US adults on average get too little sleep. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Less than 7 hours results in lower blood flow to the brain;
  • Too little sleep increases health risks and impairs cognitive abilities;
  • Not enough sleep increases stress.

(Learn more about how you can use sleep time to improve your looks, health, and weight. Check out Sleep Your Way to a Better Brain and Body and  Sleep Better, Weigh Less, Look Younger.

Older adults performed better on memory tests after just 1 night listening to pink noise while… Click To Tweet

Better Memory, More Creativity – You Get it All with ZZZZzzzzzss

Rancho la Puerta marble sculpture woman in child's pose

The older adult pose vs child’s pose Remember those ZZZZZzzzzsss

A 2010 Harvard study discovered that those whose naps were long enough to enter REM sleep did 40% better on a test of creativity than nappers who didn’t get any REM sleep and non-nappers. That REM sleep gave the brain time and the ability to work creatively on various test problems.

If you really want a better memory, easier learning and enriched creativity, add pink noise to your nightly 7-9 sleep hours.

ACTION: Subscribe. Claim your free e-booklet. Take a nap so you remember how glad you’ll feel once part of our Fun and Fit community.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

11

Walk Better: 7 Steps to Great Gait

 
hike at Rancho la Puerta, walk, walkers

Go for a walk

Going for a walk will almost always benefit you – anytime, anywhere.  However, do you walk and stand in ways that age or support you? Find out what’s going on behind your back. And in front of it!

This post will walk you through ways to analyze your gait to help you:

  • Reveal surprises, movement patterns, and walking habits you never knew you had;
  • Discover imbalances in your stance or stride that may be aging you;
  • Be alerted to at least 5 factors you’ve probably never thought about, but that impact every step you take;
  • Improve your mood, energy, and overall fitness via better posture and stride;
Gait workshop at Rancho la Puerta spa by Kymberly Williams-Evans

Kymberly offers pro tips about gait at her Rancho la Puerta presentation

1. Pace. Comfort. Stride

Walk across the room, turning at the wall and repeating the walk for several rounds. How quickly do you go? How comfortable are you, especially at the knees, lower back and neck? How small or big is your stride? Notice whether or not you have to touch the wall to turn, make a wide circle, or pivot quickly. Pay attention to your balance. Be aware of your stride length, especially if it’s small, which means you don’t trust your balance, though you are actually at MORE risk of falling with a shortened stride.

2. Arm Swing

Go watch SpongeBob Squarepants and take a look at how he propels himself forward. See those flapping arms? Nothing going on from shoulder to elbow, but lots of movement from elbow to hands. If this is you, we bet your elbows hurt after a long walk. Same thing if you’re a wrist flapper. Ideally, you want a long arm that reaches out in front of you. And… you want the arm in back to be reaching behind just as far. At the top of your arm swing, you should have a triangle formed from both hands and the shoulder. In other words, what goes on behind you is as important as what’s happening in front.

hiking at Rancho la Puerta spa

Use your arms and legs in opposition

3. Look and Listen to Your Walk

What do you see when you focus? What do you hear? What is powering your forward movement? It’s possible you favor one side, especially if you’ve had any kind of leg injury. If you can get someone to listen as you walk (without looking at you), a limp or compensation just might reveal itself. So often we are asked why the left leg (for example) hurts when it was the right leg that had the injury. The answer is that the left leg is overtired from being overused due to overcompensation. So get over it!

4. Pulling from Hamstrings vs Pushing from Glutes

Use power muscles to power your stride. Are you using your front or back leg to propel? If you want a shapely booty, push from the glutes. As we mention in our post “Why is My Body in Pain After Running and Walking,” running and walking require different muscle emphasis. Pulling from the hamstrings on the front leg will just make them hurt, and might also cause pain behind the knee. Besides, who doesn’t want a shapelier tush?

Imbalances in your stance or stride may be aging you #Babyboomers #Walk #Gait Click To Tweet
walk well

Feet, keep walkin’

5. Slow Mo’ Walk

Slow your walk way down and observe what happens throughout your body. Does your head bob forward or side to side? Maybe your walk improves. Maybe it falls to pieces. Notice if your arms keep moving or freeze in place. Especially note whether you start to move homolaterally (same arm and leg go forward rather than opposing arm and leg). Do you feel less or more stable?

6. Head and Chin Check: Walking Posture Matters

If your head is forward and down, that’s where you are headed (hahaha. so punny). Your head needs to be above your body, not in front of it. Not only does “text neck” increase your risk of migraines and back strain, it also increases your risk of falling. Ever notice those people who are hunched over with their faces actually looking at the ground? See how their elbows are back behind them for balance? They didn’t get that way overnight. To check if that hunchback will be you, do the chin check. Stand in neutral position (read “Finding Neutral Spine” for a full explanation). Put a finger to your chin. Hold your finger in place. Retract head 2-3 times. Mark any gap. A big gap means you are a forward head thruster. A small gap means you win free neutral spine for life!

Use power muscles to power your stride. Do you propel from your front or back leg? #gait… Click To Tweet

7. Zip Trick

Remember how we mentioned 5 tips ago that what goes on behind you is as important as what’s in front? Almost everyone knows the posture zip trick for the front, but do you finish that zzzzzzip by going down the back? Once again, you’re in luck, as we wrote a post (with video !!!) about the zip trick as part of our posture series.
Time to zip up this post. We hope you feel giddy about your gait as you get around the block today and every day.

You now know HOW to walk more effectively. Wonder though, what other benefits a refreshing walk will bring you? Go to Living Longer via Walking to bolster your motivation, reasons to get out and about, and your LIFE!

Living Longer via Walking: Who Wants In?

ACTION: Subscribe if you haven’t already and receive your free booklet “Fitness Myths that Weaken Your Abs.”

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

4

You Don’t Have to be Flying to Visit Hyatt Regency LAX

Last weekend we went on a road trip from Central California to the San Diego area. Rather than suffer through traffic and a long drive, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency LAX, which is… wait for it… across the street from LAX. And even if we hadn’t stayed there, we would have eaten dinner at their unity la restaurant.

Hyatt Regency LAXFirst of all, the hotel really is right across from the airport. As we got closer and closer to the airport (we were driving west on Century), we were convinced we were about to enter the airport, but right at Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) we spotted the hotel. Luckily, the entrance was easy to spot, as “going around the block” doesn’t work well in that area.

unity la restaurantThe dinner menu concept piqued our interest (if you are weirded out by that word, look it up and you’ll see that I’m a fabulous speller) – it’s set around L.A. neighborhoods. We asked our server Paula (we tried to adopt her, as she was a hoot) if we were allowed to mix neighborhoods when ordering. You are. Because you are the customer!! I had the scallops, which made me want to immediately get a job there just so I could eat the scallops every day. They were THAT good. For dessert, Paula told us about a second chocolate cake that was over in the unity la market. In other words, there’s more than just what’s on the dessert menu. For the record, we ordered both chocolate cakes, for scientific comparison research reasons, obviously.

The @hyattregency_la LAX is a great spot to get a quiet night's sleep and eat, especially if… Click To Tweet

LAX night lightsFrom our room we had some cool views of the LAX lights (even though they weren’t changing color that night for some reason – they normally change color every few seconds). You’d think this would mean we’d hear planes landing all night, but we heard nothing, and slept soundly. I grew up a few miles south of LAX, and can recall when they added the changing lights. I like watching them change, and am guessing some of you do, too.

bakery items unity la marketIn the morning, we vacillated between the breakfast buffet and ordering from the menu. In the end, the fresh berries and huevos rancheros in the buffet won us over, even though it meant skipping the churro waffles and tres leches french toast. Or so we thought. When we mentioned our decision dilemma to the waiter, he said the kitchen could easily whip those up for us. So in the end, the only reason we didn’t have the churros and waffles is that we got full.

Hyatt Regency LAX elevator lobbyI loved the colors and circles in the hotel, especially the lobby elevator lights, as orange is my favorite color (which many of you may already know).

Hyatt poolI had the pool to myself, unless you count the gull that was circling about. I searched the hotel website before arrival to see if they had a hot tub, so let me save you the search and say that there’s no hot tub, but the pool is a perfect temperature and there are plenty of quiet spots if you want to relax with your sweetie.

Hermosa Beach pierWe checked out around 10:00, had time to stop in my hometown of Hermosa Beach to give a quick “This is where I grew up tour,” and arrived in San Diego in time for lunch. Breaking up the road trip with a stay at the Hyatt Regency LAX was a perfect way to make the trip an adventure instead of a slog. Added bonus – we avoided 99% of the traffic.

Alexandra Williams, MA

This is not a sponsored post, though we were the invited guests of the Hyatt Regency LAX.

 

4

Morro Bay – More, More, More, How Do You Like It

If you’re a Boomer, you’ll probably now and forever more associate Morro Bay with Andrea True Connection’s 1976 “More More More.” As I sit here eating salt water taffy from Crill’s, I know I could have had more than three days in Morro Bay.

Morro Bay Rock

The Morro Bay Rock is a volcanic plug that sits at the juncture of the ocean and the estuary.

At the invitation of the tourist bureau last week, I drove up with my younger son and sister Kymberly for a mini-vacation to Morro Bay, with the AMGEN Stage 3 Men’s bicycle race as our excuse to visit a place that’s only a few hours’ drive from both L.A. and San Francisco (only 1 1/2 hours from Santa Barbara).

AMGEN stage 3 race Morro Bay

And the winners of the AMGEN Stage 3 race arrive in front of the VIP section at the finish line in Morro Bay.

Morro Bay in Central California has More, More, More of everything you want in nature. #travel… Click To Tweet

Look for an upcoming post from Kymberly about the community bike ride we took the evening prior to the pro race.

Boats at dock across from our hotel in Morro Bay.

We stayed at the 456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites, right on the beach, but that wasn’t even the best part. The best part was the customer service. The owner was super friendly and smiley, which set the tone for the entire staff. Definitely stay there when you go.

Low tide in the Morro Bay estuary

Super low tide in the estuary, with the Morro Bay Rock in the background.

Kayaking in Morro Bay

Our kayaking guide was the owner of Central Coast Outdoors, and she knew all the birds, wildlife, history, marine, and culture about Morro Bay and the estuary. She even showed us a harbor seal and her pup. Important hot tip: When you go to Morro Bay, eat some of the oysters from the two local oyster companies. After your kayaking adventure.

Morro Bay near Dorn's Restaurant

With my son after we ate dinner at Dorn’s Original Breakers Cafe. I’m smiling because I had delicious scallops for dinner.

Sea lion on the dock at Morro Bay

Can you spot the extremely loud sea lion? He and I were the only ones awake at dawn, but he was determined to bark his loudest. It pays to get up early, as I also saw otters at play.

 

When we weren’t kayaking or bicycling or walking along the waterfront or eating seafood, we were shopping at the various thrift and consignment stores in town. Set aside some time for going up and down Morro Bay Boulevard, as we felt like we hit the jackpot in thrift store land.

North side of Morro Bay Rock

You can walk or drive out to the Rock at Morro Bay. On the north side is the beach. It was just past dawn and the fog was sitting just above the horizon.

 

view of San Luis Obispo from Morro Bay

Morro Bay Rock is the northernmost of 9 volcanic plugs in the area. Black Hill is just south of it, with a full 360 view of the area when you make the 10 minute climb to the top. Only a 5 minute drive from town, and you get this view of the estuary and San Luis Obispo.

 

Morro Bay Rock from the natural history museum

Locals refer to Morro Bay as “Three Stacks and a Rock.” You can see why in this photo taken from above the Natural History Museum in the State Park on the south end of town.

The town is small enough that you can walk or bicycle nearly everywhere, which probably comes in quite handy during the summer season. For us, in mid-May, parking was easy even with the bike race in town. We loved the small town feel and the friendliness of the locals. Even the otters seemed to enjoy showing off to us.

ACTION: For more pics of Morro Bay, follow their Instagram account. While you’re at it, follow mine too: AlexandraFunFit.

Text & Photos: Alexandra Williams, MA

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5

The Most Effective Plank Exercises

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Often, people are reluctant to attempt a plank because they’ve heard that you have to hold a long-lever plank for 5 minutes in order to be “cool.” Not true. Planks are accessible to nearly everyone, as many versions exist.K planking in Thailand

Want to perform a #fitness plank? This video shows 4 different modifications, & instructions… Click To Tweet

Proper Technique:

  • Planks are more effective if you rest on your elbows, not your hands
  • Elbows directly below the shoulders
  • Hands loose and relaxed; a correlation exists between clenched fists and breath-holding
  • It’s better for your lower back to have your hips slightly piked rather than dropped, though a straight line is your goal
  • Pretend you are wearing a belt, and tighten all places where it would touch

One caveat: We mention holding for 30 seconds in the video, but research also indicates you can hold for as little as 20, take a short break, then get back into plank position. Whether you choose 20 or 30 second intervals, stick with the plank position that gives you the best form.

2

6 Overlooked Habits Every Woman Should Develop for Her Health: Guest Post from LaToya

overall htalth, 4 hapooy midlife womenAttain Overall Health

We all know that to be healthy, we should eat right, exercise, get plenty of rest, and drink lots of water. Total health, though, isn’t only about being physically healthy. When thinking about your well-being, you should consider your overall health, including your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

There are many unexpected habits you can develop to create positive changes in your overall health. Here are six overlooked habits every woman should develop for her health.

Practice Gratitude

Do you regularly dedicate time in your day to being grateful? Research has consistently demonstrated gratitude can have a profound and lasting impact on our health. Regular gratitude practices have been scientifically proven to help you sleep better, reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure, improve self-esteem and even lower the risk of depression.

A gratitude practice doesn’t have to be extremely involved or take a lot of time. Try starting your day by thinking of five things you’re grateful for every morning. Or you can make a nightly gratitude list before going to bed each night. Adding gratitude to your life is a small change that can have a large impact on your well-being.

Research demonstrates that gratitude can have a profound and lasting impact on our health. Click To Tweet

Know Your Numbers

Most of us know what the number on the bathroom scale reads without even checking, but how well do you know the other numbers related to your health? Can you spout off your blood pressure, cholesterol or blood glucose numbers from memory? Many of us can’t, so instead we trust our medical professionals to track the information for us.

Educating yourself about your personal health information is extraordinarily important. It can help you to understand what’s normal for you, and it will give you the confidence to push your doctor to look deeper at something when you know something isn’t right.
Tracking your medical information can seem daunting, but you can use a simple online program such as My Medical to track all your records in one place. You can also access the records from anywhere, which can come in extremely handy in an emergency.

Most people recognize doing volunteer work has positive effects on your mental and emotional well-being. But did you know it can be good for your physical health too? A study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found a link between people who volunteer regularly and lowered blood pressure.

Volunteer Your Timevolunteer match, overall health

In addition to the health benefits, volunteering is a great way to meet people with similar interests and to share your expertise with people who need it. You can find volunteer opportunities in your area at VolunteerMatch.org.

Practice Self-Care

As a woman, taking care of yourself is something that gets pushed to the bottom of the list of things to do. Self-care is critically important to our well-being though. As women, we often feel as though we have to give to others first and put ourselves last. But if you’ve completely worn yourself down and left no time for rejuvenation, you have nothing left to share with others anyway. By taking the time to care for yourself first, you’ll find you have even more energy and time to share with others.

Self-care rituals don’t have to be time-consuming either. By taking time throughout the day to check-in and care for yourself, you’ll be less likely to find yourself completely drained. If you’re not sure where to start with self-care, check out this list of 45 simple self-care practices to get started.

Say “No” More Often

It might be easier to say yes when someone makes a request of you, but it’s not easier on your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, while it might initially feel more stressful to say no to a request, it can relieve stress in the long run. Simply because a request is a worthy one doesn’t mean you have to be the person to do it.

Consider new commitments carefully before agreeing. If you don’t feel like enthusiastically saying yes, then you’re probably better off saying no. It will give someone else the opportunity to participate and reduce the stress you feel from overcommitting yourself.

Older women Drinking Wine, overall healthDrink Some Wine

While excessive drinking can have serious health repercussions, research has consistently demonstrated drinking wine in moderation (one glass per day for women) can have positive effects in a variety of health-related areas. Moderate wine consumption, specifically red wine, has been shown to improve memory function, prevent blood clots, reduce inflammation, promote weight loss, reduce the risk of cancer, improve bone mass and reduce blood sugar problems, among many others.

You should still pay attention to the activities traditionally associated with good health, such as eating right and exercising. As you can see from this list, though, there are also a lot of nontraditional ways to improve your health and overall well-being.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock, provided by LaToya

Action: Subscribe to our blog. Read the posts with a glass of wine. Do it for your health.
Bio: LaToya has been involved in the fitness and health world for more than 25 years. An author and researcher, she has written extensively on topics ranging from alternative medicines to cutting-edge fitness programs. She now writes for eHealth Informer. LaToya has a passion for self-improvement and wants to make sure you have the tools and confidence you need to reach your goals, no matter your age or ability.

Need more support to embed healthy habits? These posts may help:

4 Stages to Healthier Habits

7 Healthy Lifestyle Tips: How Can You Create Better Habits?

How Do I Get Healthy Habits to Stick?

Replace Health Cares with Healthy Habits (from BlogHer)

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5

Tangerine Dream: It’s Pixie Month at The Oaks at Ojai Spa

It’s Pixie Tangerine season in Ojai, and we celebrated our love of the seedless fruit, the Oaks at Ojai spa treatments, and romance this past weekend.

chaise longuesJust to be clear, in this case, “we” was NOT my sister and I (see the part just there that mentions romance). Last year my sis and I went to the spa for Bike Week, so you can go for the active adventures, or wind down with spa treatments. Or both. This time I went for relaxation and spa treatments (you don’t have to be a guest to take advantage of the spa services, FYI).

For Pixie Month, my particular friend and I showed up in time for dinner, which included a Pixie mousse for dessert. Yes, you CAN get dessert at a fitness spa. Our goal was to relax after a busy week, so we took a short stroll after dinner, then sat in the hot tub contemplating our good luck at having it all to ourselves.

Ojai Meadows Preserve

The Ojai Meadows Preserve is a 5-minute drive from the Oaks at Ojai.

frog

Five of these little froggies would fit in the palm of your hand

April is Pixie tangerine month at the Oaks at Ojai. Ready for your visit? Click To TweetAfter breakfast, which included as many Pixies as we could fit in our pockets, we drove to the Ojai Meadows Preserve for a hand-in-hand stroll, where we saw several hundred teeny tiny frogs. We were tempted by both the morning hike and the aqua class at the spa (I have done both in the past, and loved them), but we were focused on our “together” time, so chose solo activities instead.

serenity garden

Hidden behind the pool is a serenity rock garden. You can add your own!

By the time we got back to The Oaks at Ojai, it was time for our spa treatments. In my case, that meant a pixie pedicure. Yup, it included a foot and leg scrub infused with tangerines, plus a fresh tangerine squeezed into the foot soak water. I almost chose tangerine as my nail polish color, then decided to go with a merlot color. I’m sure both sound delicious. My friend had a massage, which I was surprised to learn was the first he’d ever had in his life. How is it possible that he made it into his fifties without ever having a massage? In any case, he loved it, including the hot stones, and now he knows what he’s been missing.

Lake Casitas

If you come from Santa Barbara, stop for the views of Lake Casitas

ABC Channel 7 did a piece about Pixie month and the Oaks at Ojai, which we recommend you watch. The spa is only 45 minutes away from Santa Barbara, and includes a scenic drive past Lake Casitas. If you’re coming from L.A., it’s only an hour’s drive.

Rachel at Oaks at Ojai

Don’t let that smile fool you; Rachel is just waiting to make you laugh

My little extra piece of advice? You can go for a girls’ getaway (some friends did that a week before our visit), or with a male partner. Some people think the Oaks at Ojai is just for women, but that’s not the case at all. There were a number of men there (though mine was the handsomest). And if you want to laugh, ask for Rachel at the front desk. She’s a hoot.

Alexandra Williams, MA

This is not a sponsored post, though I was a special guest at the spa for the night.

 

23

Fall Prevention: Do You Fear Falling as You Age?

Feet in air Fall PreventionStart your Fall Prevention Program While You’re Still (Relatively) Young

Turns out that fear of falling starts to haunt us as we hit middle age. Either directly or out of concern for our aging parents, we start seeing more risk of hitting the ground and adjust our lives accordingly. Unfortunately “adjust” usually means shrink our world. We baby boomers (and our parents) stop doing things we once enjoyed as we fear injury. Have you discontinued an activity you once considered fun and now look at as risky? Then it’s time for some Fall Prevention.

Kymberly: In our family, we no longer snowboard after my husband’s fall led to shoulder surgery and my spill hurt my back.

Alexandra: I haven’t exactly fallen, but I did a major wipeout playing soccer back in 1998. After a number of knee surgeries, I no longer play soccer.

Fortunately we baby boomers can take action to prevent falls and bolster our balance so we age as actively and confidently as possible. Let’s arm (and leg) ourselves with a few insights. Plus take a look at Stability, Balance, and Age once you’re done reading this post.

Worried about falling? Increase core strength and apply any of 3 key strategies Click To Tweet

Kymberly: When Alexandra and I attended and spoke at an IDEA Personal Training Institute  conference, one of my favorite presentations (besides our own, of course!) was “Improving Balance and Mobility Skills.” This 6-hour session was offered by Karen Schlieter, MBA, MS whose expertise is in gerokinesiology, a new and specialized area of study that focuses on physical activity and aging. Some of her key points included the following:

Alexandra negotiates a hill without falling Fall Prevention

Is Alexandra trying to break a record or a wrist?

Women and Men Fall Differently

One: Did you know that one-third of older adults fall each year? Women tend to break their forearms and wrists; men tend to hit their heads and suffer traumatic brain injury. Hold it right there! That is not the future we baby boomers envision, is it?!

We need to work on our balance by controlling our center of mass, also known as our core. The stronger and more respondent our core is, the more we are able to shift our center of gravity safely, quickly, and comfortably.  Midlife and older is no time to ignore the core as part of fall prevention! So the first order of business is to strengthen our core.

Alexandra: Take advantage of the core exercises we present in our Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50.  Below are two selections from that collection. Give them a whirl. Then consider getting all the videos and content.

Rotating Abs/ Core Move  Video

Kneeling Core and Abs Exercise Video

3 Strategies for Fall Prevention

Two: When something unexpected threatens to up-end us, we try to maintain balance using several strategies. In order of use, they are:
Ankle strategy: the first place to adjust in order to stay upright is at the ankle joint. Most people send their spine or shoulders into tilt and end up on the ground as a result. Start implementing a small amount of sway or bend at the ankle as a postural, or balance strategy. For example, if you are out walking your energetic dog, who then bangs into your legs at full run, bend at the ankle and knees, not the spine, to protect yourself from going down.

If you're about to fall, which joint should you bend 1st to prevent the fall? Spine, ankle, knee? Click To Tweet

Before getting to the next two strategies, find out how good your balance is via this post:

How Good is Your Balance?

Kymbelry fallen and getting up Fall Prevention

Help, I’ve Fallen But I Will Get up. Right after a little nap….

Hip strategy: the bigger muscles around our pelvis help keep our center of gravity actually centered. If an ankle bend is not enough to keep us from a fall, we depend on the larger muscles that surround our hips. Again, keep the spine long and strength train the hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, hip extensors, and abs so they can support with extra oomph when balance surprises come along.

Step out strategy: The final strategy to kick into fall-prevention gear is to step forward, backward, or laterally. If you’ve ever done the panic shuffle when tripped, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Taking a quick salvation step or many depends on our senses, overall strength, and ability to scale our movement to our environment.  While we can’t do much to train our eyesight or hearing, for instance, we can be proactive on the latter two functions.

Don't Fall!

For Optimal Fall Prevention You Need More than Strength – POWER Up!

Three: The last big insight we want to share from Karen’s session is that we lose power ahead of strength. For reducing falls, we have to have power. To get back up quickly after a fall we need power. Yes, resistance training is important (twice a week seems to be the sweet spot between reaping benefits and being time/ life/ schedule efficient). However, power training tends to go by the wayside once we say good-bye to our 40s.

A quick definition of the difference between power and strength is that power has a speed and often an explosive element to it. Strength training is generally slow and controlled applied force. Bottom line — add some kind of jump to your life. Jump rope, perform squat jumps, do switch lunges, work in a few box jump ups.

Alexandra: I’ll add a few final comments. Fear of falling can actually contribute to a fall. Even if you haven’t fallen in the past, if you have a fear of falling, you are at more risk. As well, if you find yourself shuffling, you’ll want to work on lengthening your stride and picking up your feet, as a shuffling gait can lead to instability and decreased mobility.

Action: Do check out our Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50 if you want to become more fall proof. Ultimate Abs No-Crunch Abs Fall Prevention

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

 

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