Fun and Fit

Author Archives: Fun and Fit

7

Weights or Cardio – Who’s On First?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit:

Q: When I work out at the gym and plan to do both strength and cardio, which is better to start with? Spending time on the treadmill/elliptical/bike before the weights or vice versa?

Thanks K&A, love your blog!

Denise, Los Angeles, CA

A: I will give the “it depends” answer since I am not sure of your specific goals. Based on experience, and being a woman myself (a designation started by my parents), I shall take the wild and crazy guess that you want to mainly be toned and lose extra poundage, yes? If you are training for a body-building competition or simply for mass and strength, then you should do the strength training first. Otherwise, probably the cardio. In any case, if you are training for body-building, I don’t want to give you advice as you might get big and strong and hunt us down if you don’t like our fabulicious advice.

K: Let me tell you a true story from my teaching career. A woman who used to come devotedly to my morning Step class suddenly disappeared. Two months later I saw her in the gym. She had gained 20 pounds. Ok, maybe just 10, but that’s what she gets for skipping my classes. “Oh, Kymberly, I miss your Step class so much. But my personal trainer told me I had to do weights before cardio. Since I drop off the kids at school just before coming to work out, I can longer make it in time to Step as I have to fit in the weight training first.”  The professional in me asked what she was now doing for her cardio training (even though I really wanted to ask “what the @#XXamp;^* was your trainer thinking since you are now heavier?”) “Oh,” she fessed up, ” I don’t do cardio anymore since I am too tired after weight training. I used to do my weight training after your class while my energy levels were still pumped up.” Readers, do you like how I am working in total compliments to my teaching skills? Just another fitness benie (a benefit morsel).  In short, she cut her workouts in half to accommodate some arbitrary order of exercise. The only exercise order is what Fun and Fit tell you.

And daaaaahlink, we tell you: research is 50/50 on this one. Does your body feel better doing one type first? Then that is the better order for you. Does your schedule fit better one way than another? Match activity to you, not you to it. I used underline, bold, and italics on this quote so you would be impressed by its depth of meaning. I will forever quote myself on that one from this point forward. Denise, which goal is more important to you on a given workout day – strength, cardio, catching the finals of World Cup while on the elliptical machine? Do that activity first.  Rack up the activity minutes however you set the order. Didn’t that sentence sound like a cell phone company ad?

A: Some trainers recommend strength training first, because they are thinking about depleting your glycogen stores (glycogen stores are little mom-and-pop shops where you can buy sugar) to augment the amount of fat used for your cardio, but for the average exerciser this is not the case (Fun and Fit are not saying you are average, but your muscles and metabolism might be). Still awake? You can alternate the order of your workout (She loves me, She loves me not), but if your big deal is that you think you are a big deal (overweight), you will be happier doing the cardio first. Besides, after all that treadmill stuff, you can sit down at the machines or benches and rest while you lift 7-pound weights. But keep the big 30-pound weights at your feet so people think you are a bad mama who can actually lift those suckahs without engaging in a medical procedure known as “self-induced hernia.”

K: Hi again. Just got back from weight training first. Why? Cuz my favorite cardio machine was taken and I didn’t want to be hanging at the gym all night. I have better things to do — like ask my parents if Alexandra was always a woman or just wild and crazy.

Readers, especially scheduler types: How do you order your exercise activity? Off the menu, through the window, or special delivery?  Tell us at funandfit.org

For those of you thinking Fun and Fit make up half their advice, you are so right! The other half is supported by experience, knowledge, industry articles  and research such as  bit.ly/wtsorcardiofirst

7

Spinning, Walking, Treading are Big Fat Pains

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Q: Dear Fun and Fit: Kymberly and Alexandra

I am really trying to get into better shape. But all my joints ache. The worst are my knees. I work out on an elliptical trainer for 25 minutes and a spinning machine for 20 minutes and do 10 minutes of stretching to start each workout. I do this M/W/F. The other four days I deal with the pain. I am a 61-year-old male and I am trying to lose 25lbs. It is not fun and I am really hating the pain. What do I do?

Frank, California

K: Swim

A: Swim

K: Hey, I said it first!

A: I thought it first!

K and A: We thought it at the same time. Whoa! Twin telepathy. ……. Ahh haa haaa made you look.

K: Now that you wonder whether we really do have twin telepathy, I can tell you what Alexandra was thinking. Bupkus. But I am thinking that getting into a pool and doing laps really is the best option. If swimming is not a realistic option for whatever reason – no pool handy, hate to get wet, you only wear a bathing suit in the privacy of your bathtub–whatever–then we have to come up with more clever solutions.

A: Solution: Do something else.

Wow, that was a quick and short blog post. But since there is lots of white space left, and Kymberly whimpers if I get the last word, I’ll continue. Have you already ascertained that these machines are the best (meaning “most pain-free”) choice for your knees? How about the water aerobics in the pool? That is way easy on the joints, especially deep-water classes. First of all, the best type of pre-workout stretching is to do the movement you’re about to do. Huh, what? Who’s on first? What I mean is, I don’t know what kind of stretching you are doing, but the wrong kind could start you off on the wrong path (have you ever gotten lost on an elliptical?). Let’s say you decide to take my excellent pool class advice. The best warm-up for that is to get in the pool and move. Not stand still and clutch your foot to the back of your hind end (aka “gluteus attractivus”) for example.

K: Frank, are you sure it’s the cardio machines causing the pain and not the stretching? Without more detail about your stretching regimen it’s hard to tell what to suggest. Do you do any upper thigh strengthening (quads especially)? Put static stretching at the end or your workout. Add in some strength training for your legs twice a week. Make sure the seat of your spinning cycle is set high enough for your leg length. Nag, nag, nag. Lastly, given your goals, commitment and pain level, invest in a personal trainer for at least one month. Get your form, equipment settings, stretching plan all checked by a professional. And I don’t mean us. We’re way too busy holding our feet to our gluteii attractivi (Latin plural for that technical word Alexandra made up above). The non-technical word for this position is the “Frank in Footer” ).

A: You are smart to choose relatively low-impact activities, as they are easier on the knees, yet since you are still in pain, I recommend the New Jersey approach and fuggedaboutit. I can tell by your frankness (ooh, that is a pun you have not heard in 61 years), that you are an outgoing guy, so why don’t you find a local gym with a “seniors” program (a euphemism for “anyone older than myself”) and take a group low-impact class? The variety of movement will decrease the potential for pain and the ever-so-enjoyable atmosphere will make your workout go by quicker. At the very least, you’ll still be in pain on the 4 non-exercise days, but it will be fun while you’re in class. And that’s an improvement. Unless you take my sister’s class – in which case your pain will increase tremendously. Have you heard her jokes? Like an emery board on the ears. By the way, quit calling your wife “the pain.”
Readers: When exercise has been painful, what did you do about it? And do you think twins have telepathy with each other?

4

Water: Chilled, Stirred or Straight from the Pool Post-Exercise?

Kymberly's water bottleQ: I know that drinking water is very important before, during, and after exercising.  Does it make a difference if the water is cold or room temperature?

Noel, St. Joseph, MO

Alexandra: Who cares? Water is boring. The only people who should be drinking water are kids in highly chlorinated pools – big gulps – just to make their parents crazy. —beep beep beep important interruption—– I myself drink water. But after 20-some years of teaching exercise, I have not found that the temperature perks up the flavor any, now does it? But since I am a consummate professional (I think that means I am a French clear soup), I definitely recommend water. It’s so much cheaper than flavored water. Fewer calories too. And you pee or sweat it out anyway, so why invest your hard-earned money and “individual plastic bottle” guilt? Me, I care more about the non-plastic, recyclable water bottle that your water comes in than the temp.

Kymberly: Yes, drinking water is super deluxe important for all people, especially active ones. Read our post on water’s benefits and how it acts to help keep you youthful. No, the temp does not matter, unless it matters to you. My work here is done. Oh, except to say that it’s also good to avoid sugary water drinks whether hot, cold, or in between.

Alexandra: If you are working out hard enough to want water, you won’t care about the water temperature anyway. You’ll be happy to grab whatever is closest and easiest. Am I right or what? However, do you prefer cold water? If so, then you will drink more, get rehydrated sooner and be an all-around healthier, good, popular person.

Okay, technically speaking, cold water is absorbed by the body faster than room temp water, according to some research. However in a 2007 position statement by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) on water temperature, ACSM mostly just wants you to drink enough water to stay hydrated and avoid renal failure, dehydration, mental & cognitive performance decreases, exercise-induced hyponatremia, rhabdomyolysis or other grave illnesses, such as death. I only said all that stuff to distract you and make you think I read the research, but all I managed to do was scare myself. Gotta go. A jug of cold water is calling me, followed by a jug of room temp water. Maybe then I’ll be able to pronounce “rabbit – my – old – sis” or whatever that last illness is.

Dear waterlogged and dehydrated readers alike: Do you like water? Do you have a preferred temperature? Can you pronounce “rhabdomyolysis”?

ACTION: Subscribe to our site but only if you want your fitness questions answered by longtime pros.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

4

Laughing All the Way to the Abs

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Kymberly and Alexandra

Q I prefer to laugh off my calories. Is that possible?

Maureen, San Diego, CA

 

K: If you read our blog, not only is it possible, but practically inevitable (with fitness comes unwarranted confidence, as you’ll note).  Alexandra and I are offering a double calorie burn-off special if you laugh at our blog AND tell all your friends to subscribe to “Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A.” Since you are the type who laughs, we assume you have friends…???

And you can get a mini-ab workout in as well. When you laugh – heartily, mind you, not in some simpering little tee hee giggle sort of way – you get the abdominals involved in a big way. The rectus abdominis and transversus muscles contract, which, though not a huge energy expenditure, is a good and easy way to rack up a few extra burned cals. Burn, baby, burn. Disco inferno!

A: I disagree with Kymberly. I think fitness is no laughing matter. You should suffer and be tormented for hours on end. That is what makes it so fun. You are allowed to laugh when your workout has ended for the day; quietly to yourself and more like a fleeting smile than a guffaw. If you want to laugh, watch your children deal with their children!

Readers: Do you ever laugh during exercise? Why? Did you pee your sweatpants?



2

From 1 to 10 for your 6 pack

Kymberly Williams-Evans,MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Hey Wondertwins!

More a diet question than a fitness question, but here goes: I work out fairly strenuously and notice definite strength benefits from it. However, my diet is awful and I am simply not making a dent in the gut. For the life of me, I can’t say no to the splurges on sweets and other carbohydrates, and I find preparing an army of chicken breasts for my various meals and maintaining greens that will wilt after a few days to be a real pain. Any tips on how I can shake my frame of mind that has me living off of fast and/or processed food and instead be happy eating my grilled meat and greens? Thanks! Keep up the great work 🙂

John from somewhere in the US

K: Hello John and thank you for submitting your question to Fun and Fit. We look forward to answering it , but be prepared that we may take our sweet ole time. Genius cannot be rushed.  Meantime, keep reading and moving! Sincerely, The Wondertwins (we liked this moniker, so have to use it, of course)!

John: The wait’s no problem. The weight is 😉 ooooh delicious puns. Can’t wait to see you two make it big!

K: Excuse me, did you say “delicious puns” or “delicious buns?” We get so confused once baked goods enter the equation. But let’s talk now about your wilted greens and withering will power. Dear boy, you are really talking about priorities and trade offs. While we are not nutrition experts, we know a self-sabotage when we see one. Why set up the choice as either fast food or ascetic eating? We are not proponents of forcing yourself to eat food you don’t like just because you think you should. Instead we believe in forcing people to do our exercise bidding. And finding foods you enjoy that are not on one end of the spectrum or another.

A: According to my favorite medical expert, Dr. Me, I believe you are suffering from a common disease known as “Budweiser Tumor.” Why go from 1 (stuff like that KFC double down fried chicken with bacon, 3 trillion calories and enough sodium to refloat the Dead Sea) to 10 (wilty greens)? Can’t you go from 1 to 2, then move up to 3 after a while….and so on until you reach nutrition improvement? First step, switch out one thing you can live without (processed food product #1) for something that is healthier and that you like (non-processed delicious thing such as a fruit smoothie). Until you get away from your bad-boy fitness attitude of “either – or” you will be stuck correlating healthy with “icky, nasty, wilty, lots of prep,” and fast food with “I’m in charge and no-one can make me not enjoy this lump of lard with seasoning.” Notice how you’ve put “grilled chicken breasts” right there with the military allusion, and splurges on sweets with “I can’t say no.” One is rigid; one is all loosey-goosey. And, yes, I do have a counseling degree, so I can say that “loosey-goosey” is a real diagnosis! You can say “no” – you just don’t want to. I suspect you are very popular on dates. BTW, I have no tips on making you happy. You already worship us so I am mystified as to what else you might need.

K: What you may need is simply to clarify what you really want most: sweets and splurges or abs that have more definition(s) than wikipedia. The other tip is for you to set a goal to find healthy foods you LIKE. Your words “real pain” and “happy” do not usually mix well at a party. Ditch the foods you hate but think you should eat for the nutritious foods you like that also taste scrumptious. Those foods are out there. I found them over at Alexandra’s house. And I ate them before she got home. result = happy.

Readers: What do you tell yourself when faced with a tempting non-nutritional food that will undo all your workout efforts?

5

Hide or Get Rid of My Muffin Top and Old Workout Wear?

Dear Fun and Fit – Kymberly and Alexandra: Why does my clingy, sexy workout wear that I bought ten years ago suddenly look like @@^%@ on me? Signed, Muffin-top, San Diego, CA

Muffin Top tattoo on belly

Alexandra: The answer lies in your signature. No one looks good in clingy wear with 10 years’ worth of snacks hanging out. You need to put on your baggy sweats and get on a treadmill. Hang your cute workout clothes on a hanger in front of the treadmill for inspiration. Start walking, add in some strength training, and stop eating those muffins.

Kymberly: To put it another way, cut back on the batter that fills those muffin cups!

  1. Take a photo of your clingy, sexy workout wear and post it on the refrigerator or above the stove.
  2. If you eat out often, wrap the photo around your credit card so you can stay focused when ordering a meal away from home.
  3. But frankly, what I would do is buy some new gear that simply hides my muffin top (not saying I have one, mind you!!). After 10 years with the same stuff, you deserve something new, looser, and more figure flattering.

A: Now that I think about it, I believe your muffin-tops are only half the problem. The other reason your clingy stuff looks like (edited for family reasons) “doo-doo” is that it is out of style. All of your stuff from ten years ago is so…2000ish. As in “Turn of the Century.”

Call to Action: Move out of the past and into the future — of great workout advice and smaller muffins by subscribing to our blog. You can do so in the right sidebar or the pop-up box. 

Dear Snackers: What do you eat that makes your workout wear misunderstand you? Do you eat or wear muffin-tops?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

2

Exercise No Child’s Play for Busy Parent

Listen to the audio version!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Kymberly and Alexandra:

Q: I need to get in shape, lose 20 lbs, and look even BETTER than I already do. 🙂  I have two young children, a 5-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl. I want to include them, but quite honestly, playing/exercising at their speed does not provide enough cardio.  I have always been an avid, competitive soccer player, but last May I tore my meniscus and had to quit my league. The surgery was successful, but I still don’t have my confidence back and I don’t want to be tentative and get injured again… Between work, family, music and other pressures of life, I just can’t seem to find the time or energy. I know that once I start some type of program, the floodgates will open and it will be much easier. Recommendations?

Brian of Burbank. CA

Dear Brian:

A: Here’s how to jump start your efforts. Ditch the wife and kids right after breakfast on Saturday, play pick-up soccer all day (forget the competitive league stuff unless you’re the coach, in which case your exercise will be pacing the sidelines and yelling friendly, encouraging comments) then return home after a brewski with the team. In case your wife notices that this plan is all “jumpy starty” in your favor – hers, not so much – go to Plan B….

Plan B: you look in the mirror and notice that “looking better than you already do” will never happen. Didn’t you notice – You have kids…for many years to come. You will never look hot, young, or refreshed again. Wait, I have kids and I look way better than ever. Use my trick – sunglasses (like these cute back-to-school choices from our affiliate Warby Parker) and lipstick. Or…make a date with the wife for a nice walk several times a week. Do you have someone who will watch the kids for a half hour or so? Paying a sitter is waaaaay cheaper than a gym membership. And you will get some “us” time away from the kidlets. If you can’t do that, can you at least walk during lunch? I know, I know, you work through lunch half the time, right? But what about the other half? Hello Floodgates.

K: Geez, Alexandra is so depressing. Brian, you can look better than you do now because I am assuming you are giving off the tired, lethargic, and stressed look this year. Youthful hotness lies ahead! You mention having tried to use play time with your wee ones as exercise time so let’s focus on transforming that time, rather than trying to carve out minutes elsewhere. Would your daughter enjoy racing in a stroller while you sing and talk to her? If you can leave your older child with your wife for half an hour (giving her a break from double duty), and strap in the baby for a joy ride, then she is going at your pace, which had better be a jaunty one! If your current stroller cannot accommodate speed racing, then either get a baby jogger oooorrrrr get a sturdy baby backpack and take her for a power walk. I can guarantee you will get the intensity and heart rate you are looking for if you step lively with a 20 pound wiggly weight on your back. Then when you get back in the door after this sweat-inducing 30-minute cardio workout, get your son to sit on your upper back while you knock out push-ups until fatigue. If fatigue sets in at the first push-up then switch out the big boy for the little girl and get your pump on!

A: I could recommend waking an hour earlier for a walk or run, but that doesn’t sound fun AT ALL. Save all your work phone calls till lunch and answer them while you walk. Then you will mentally feel like you aren’t “skipping out” on your work duties. Schedule your walk or run into your calendar so it seems like it’s important. If it’s in the calendar, it will happen! Good luck. Or park your car a mile from work. Just the walk to and from the office counts as exercise.

K: My last suggestion: join a gym that offers day care while you AND your wife work out. Benies galore such as time to work out as intensely as you want; a chance to do something healthy with your wife; and a time for both of you to turn the little ones over to pro care and focus on you, you, you. And just for the record, those sunglasses Alexandra is looking out of are obviously rose-tinted shades. Advice to twinnie: get up that hour earlier you so nicely recommended and add more lipstick… and maybe a low brimmed hat… and soft focus lighting.

A: I got your soft focus right here.