Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Alexandra: But first, a shout-out to ourselves, as it turns out we were both in the Top Ten for most socially engaged people at the convention.
— Steve Groves (@SteveatGoodLife) March 12, 2015
We were beat out by keynote speaker Arianna Huffington, a popular conference speaker, and Dai Manuel (a fellow FitFluential ambassador). Maybe it’s time to raise our rates. Hmmmm.
Kymberly: Arianna can take first place as most influential online IHRSA “attendee” with no envy from me as she was so clever in her keynote. I almost thought Alexandra wrote her material, that’s how funny Mz Huff was. Please note that a certain Me was ranked higher than a certain Not Me twinster. Score!
As for a key trend coming your way bigger than our hair and shoulder pads in the 80s — wearable technology is IT! Bands, apps, bracelets, watches, cords, equipment screens, club check-in software, online community connections, and more are infiltrating, permeating, hyperventilating our fitness future. Proof is coming in that tracking and measuring devices actually work! People who use technology are moving more.
We saw all kinds of amazing gadgets that gather your workout data, health profile, preferences, fat levels–you name it– in order to help you succeed with your health and fitness goals. Need accountability? Motivation? Feedback? Workout buddies? An exercise program to go? if you can conceive of it, you will find it at the IHRSA trade show which was loaded with ingenuity and visionary high techy thingies. Hey, I am currently testing out a handheld device that measures my body fat and muscle quality, courtesy of Skulpt Aim. I simply hold up to certain muscles the Skulpt Aim, which looks like a smart phone and voila — personalized data that I wish would lie to me. But it doesn’t.
You probably are contributing to the health and fitness tech trend right now. Have you ever used a pedometer? (Read our post on assessing pedometers) Slapped on a heart rate monitor? Synced a workout tracking device to your phone? Input info into a cardio machine that goes to a personal profile? Plead guilty to being a trend driver.
So you’re all fitted up with monitoring devices, but which workouts offer options for midlifers who may suffer from joint issues?
TRX Training for Midlifers
Alexandra: We have taken a few of the TRX suspension training classes before, but we wanted to know if they had a workout that would be suited for those of us with bad knees (Kymberly’s recent surgery), bad wrists (Alexandra’s recent fall), or other issues that make it necessary to modify so many other workout regimens.
So many of our students have asked our opinion about suspension training, worried they might fall or embarrass themselves if they tried it, so we went straight to the top to find answers. By “top” we mean we had our very own personalized workout with Dan Mcdonogh, the TRX Training and Development Manager and 2012 IDEA (our professional association) Fitness Instructor of the Year.
With a focus on good form (we loved him for that), Dan took us through a myriad of options for some of the main moves: squats, lunges, planks, rows, push-ups. Every time we said, “that would be an issue for someone with knee problems,” or “how can I do this move if I’m worried about balance,” Dan had a solution. (Keep an eye out for our video of this workout coming soonish to our website. See Dan survive standing between us as we crack jokes and compliment his red hair).
End Result: We totally loved this workout, as it helped increase our strength, balance, core and flexibility, all of which are important for Boomers (well, anyone really). I will just mention that I was amazing. Kymberly might have been too, but I kept poking her in the surgery leg.
Kymberly: Poke, poke, no joke. I really kneed to find exercise options that offer intensity with minimal joint impact. After doing a pain free happy dance for TRX, I found my cardio nirvana on the Total Wave Fitness.
More than two months of no cardio (aside from mosey level dog walks) has left me desperate to get my sweat on. Where, oh where is a high intensity, low impact exercise mode right for knees in rehab? That is fun? With variety? And smooth comfort like a Tom Jones song? Oh my gosh, but gliding on the Wave machine is perfect for anyone who wants an aerobic heart rate with no bone pounding. If you want to go for a ride and slide from side to side, talk your club into getting one of these. Sore feet? Wonky knees? Try the Total Wave. No excuses or downtime for joint pain sufferers. Santa Barbara Spectrum are you listening? Buy this for me — and the other members too, of course.
This crazy looking contraption could be the answer to those of you for whom aches and pains keep you from taking cardio classes or getting on cardio equipment. If you send me one, I WILL find room for it in my house.
Here’s to finding ways to work out as we age.
Readers: How has an injury or chronic condition kept you from exercising? What solution(s) did you find? And … is your klout score higher than ours? Comment below. And subscribe if you have not already.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
To live more comfortably in your body, what can you do (besides whine, whimper, act curmudgeonly, and grab the stairwell when going down)?
Hang onto your bandage wraps and therapeutic creams as we dispense fit pro advice about ways to exercise cardiovascularly when your joints are HOLLERING!
Kymberly: Hey, I said it first!
Alexandra: 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. Nada. But I am thinking that getting into a pool and doing laps or taking aqua classes are the best options. The more of your body that is under water, the less stress on your joints. If pools are 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: Try cardio machines that take some of the load off your lower body joints, such as indoor cycling, rowing, elliptical machines (as opposed to stair steppers or treadmills). Take advantage of a group spin or row class. For one, you can have the instructor fit the equipment to you, so you are in protective alignment. You want to be sure that the seat of your cycle is set high enough for your leg length, for example. Nag, nag, nag.
K: Add in some resistance training or Pilates twice a week. Strengthen the muscles around painful joints so that the muscles bear the brunt of the load.
Perhaps invest in a certified personal trainer or one-on-one licensed body worker (such as a Feldenkreis teacher, CranioSacral therapist, or MELT trainer). Get your form, equipment settings, shoes, stretching plan all checked by a professional. And I don’t mean us. We’re way too busy bickering about who suggested the pool first.
A: 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 from repetitive stress. Unless you take my sister’s class – in which case your pain will increase tremendously. Got the last word.
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In our recent episode, Fat Burning for Women Over 50: Be on Fire, Dr. Len walked us 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.
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 Burn a Myth to Burn More Calories (post) and Fat Loss; What Does and Doesn’t Work (radio episode) . Professional alert warning system activated – it’s not just about cals in and out, though you do have to start there!
Second, is that we break down carbohydrates 40 times faster than fat, with carbos 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 carbos 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.
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!
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.
Third, thanks to Dr. Len’s practical tips, you now get led into 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.
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.
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!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
In order to share the best information with you, I went last week to Pennsylvania to check out a variety of floor surfaces as a guest of Regupol, German-American makers of rubber sports and fitness flooring made of recycled tires.
Last year we wrote a post about running surfaces in answer to a reader question, which you’ll want to read. One main point from that post is to pay attention to the three S’s: Springback, Shock absorption, and Stability. In the pictures below, you can see that I tested every Regupol floor in a variety of workout modes. I even ran (which many of you know I gave up after my knee surgeries). The three S’s were there in all cases, and I had zero joint pain. I even felt daring in a sense, because I could try stuff I had been afraid would hurt previously.
Over two days we visited Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys & Girls Club,
Horsham Athletic Club,
Villanova University Basketball Training Room and Football & Olympic Sports Training Room,
Lancaster Mennonite High School,
Franklin & Marshall College,
and the Regupol America facility. During the tour, in addition to checking for comfort and support, I paid attention to additional details that I feel are important:
In 2011, Regupol America became the first company in Pennsylvania to earn a coveted GreenCircle certification. Sustainable manufacturing utilizes processes that are non-polluting, conserve energy and natural resources, and are economically sound for the community. During the factory tour, we learned that the waste is practically zero. Actually, the only thing I remember them mentioning as trash is the plastic wrap that encases the ready-to-ship flooring rolls. Oh, I also learned that “Regupol” stands for REcycled GUmmi (rubber) POLymer. So German!
If you’re a grunter, singer or screamer, you might be happy to be in a workout area that absorbs those sounds! And if you are someone who drops your weights (very few exercises exist that actually require you to do so, by the way), you will want an absorbing floor that doesn’t disturb the exercisers below (can you tell I’ve endured years of teaching where the sounds of dropped weights on the floor above are louder than my group exercise music?).
Some of the tracks we visited are exactly the same as the the one on which Usain Bolt won the 2009 Berlin World Championships. If you have a kid headed to university who wants to compete in Track and Field, this might be a deal-maker.
The moral of the story (I’ve always wanted to say that) is this: if your joints hurt after exercising, switch to a better surface. Such things DO exist. Now I’m working on a plan to convince Regupol to recycle some of their flooring as sandal soles. If my childhood huaraches from Mexico can have tire pieces glued on as soles, my adulthood sandals surely can have an updated version, right?!
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, nor was I asked to write this post. Regupol paid for my trip to Pennsylvania. They even shared local trivia about the “Amish Mafia” (some sort of TV show) and the “Rocky” movies!
We stop at Expo booths that catch our eye because they have something that will work for us as instructors, or for you, our readers and radio show listeners, or because there appears to be a fun or unique baby boomer angle.
As the major players for all the fitness equipment and machines are exhibiting their latest inventions or upgrades, it makes perfect sense that they offer workouts in their booths. So we got up at super-pre-dawn o’clock and did a circuit class with Total Gym, followed by a really boingy and sproingy “run” on the Sproing
not a treadmill “soft surface system.” We loved both, especially the Sproing, as we have crappy, genetically flawed reconstructed knees from our superstar soccer days (the word “superstar” needs to be read with a twinkle in your eye).
Speaking of needing to exercise on soft surfaces, we had some fun
goofing off testing out the shock absorption of the flooring surfaces at the Regupol booth. Made of post-consumer tires and post-industrial rubber, we did our best recycled splits!
To recover from all our hard work, we invited ourselves into the sauna room at the Helo booth. The heat was on!! Actually, after only a few hours’ sleep, we were kind of tempted to take a nap in the sauna. The reps were nice about it until my sis started snoring!
If you ever take any of my group fitness classes, you will find out rather quickly that I’m not a fan of teaching kickboxing-style workouts. That was before. This is now. On a whim, we stopped at the Nexersys booth and gave the machine a good workout. Or it gave us one. Something tiring. Essentially it’s an interactive machine with punch and kick pads. Some people want chocolate or jewelry; I want this machine. Their website tag line is “Get the Body You Want.” He never showed up, so I did a four minute workout with the body I had – mine!
All group fitness pros need music, so we grapevined our way to Power Music, and signed up for their digital music subscription service that lets you access unlimited pre-made and custom mixes. We were going to buy CDs, as that’s about our level of technology, but the guys at the booth were so into customer service that they explained how much money we’d save with the service, then walked us through the entire downloading process. I left with music already on my phone AND a sheet of instructions. Props to the peeps at Power for major hand-holding. Now I just have to figure out how to use my phone with the sound system at the university. Sad, I know.
Shout out to LifeFitness and the Synrgy360 system for A: having a workout set-up that resembles a playground, and B: hiring the ever energetic, always positive Marc Coronel to demo the workouts. Second shout out to DietBetter (formerly DietBet), a social media, interactive weight loss game. You can win money for safely losing a specific percentage of your weight. We met the founder and learned that some new, top-secret fun things are on the horizon.
The day ended with us
relaxing completely testing for research purposes on the SolaJet DryWave massage beds. You lie down on something akin to a modern waterbed, but with more support. Warm water jets move up and down your body, providing a deep tissue massage. We intended to fake sleep so we could do intensive research, but the people at the booth actually let us stay until the Expo was closed.
Some of these items cost a lot, so ask your fitness facility to buy them. Pitch a fit so you’ll get your way. Cheer yourself up with a Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt CLIF Mojo bar. Also for research purposes.
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By now you probably have heard the advice to walk at least 10,000 steps per day. I am on that mission now and, boy, it’s hard to get in all those steps day in and day out. Some days I am convinced the battery in my pedometer gave up the ghost. And that is after teaching a group fitness class and climbing the stairs to our new home several times.
Why do you walk? Your goal — fat burning? weight loss? weight maintenance? disease prevention? — will determine your pace, time, and frequency. Guidance and answers lie below, so keep reading (maybe as you walk in place).
I take my dog on her walk and still wonder — what will all this walking do for me? Is it sufficient to help me lose some of the menopause weight I put on? Or to keep my health at its excellent level? Do I need to walk faster, up and down hills to burn maximum calories? (For more on the relevance of high intensity interval exercise for people over 40, read this well-done post by our friend and colleague, Tamara Grand). Is a non-sweaty, beautiful, flat, beach mosey just as good? Will walking meet other fitness or emotional goals as well?
So I kicked into my fitness professional mode and did some digging through publications and research. Walking is still the number one most accessible, successful, popular way to exercise and stay active. Whether you choose to walk indoors on cardio equipment or at a mall, or outdoors on trails or through your neighborhood, the first and most critical key is to log steps. One foot in front of the other. 9,998, 9,999, 10,000!
Next step, (ha ha) is to prioritize your goals. That will determine the intensity your walk will take. Are you walking for health and longevity? To improve your mood and mental hardiness? Then getting in those 10,000 steps per day is the best advice. No need to worry about intensity, duration, style. In fact, any more walking than you are doing now will improve your health. Trading tv commercial time on the LazyBoy for marching in place until your show comes back on is a body and brain booster.
What if weight maintenance is your goal? For once, research offers more info for women than men when it comes to specific suggestions on how much to walk for weight control. Turns out your age and gender affect the answer. (Just last week I told my group fitness class that the 10k minimum applied to all ages as far as I knew. Turns out I needed to know more. And now you know too!)
For women, recommended steps per day to stave off weight gain is broken down by age:
For men, it’s a little more generalized:
My professional opinion is that we need to move just as much, if not more as we age. (See our post Be Inspired to Age Actively). For our readers 60 years and up, why stop at 8,000 steps? Keep trying for 10k. You’ll get to more fun places!
What if your goal is weight loss? Now we need to talk about intensity and getting the most out of your perambulations!
First a Fun Fit Fact: (courtesy of Len Kravitz. PhD et al in “Walking Extravaganza,” IDEA Fitness Journal Oct 2013 pgs 40-47) Did you know your body has a natural or default walking speed that seems to be set to use fat as the optimal fuel source? Apparently our bodies naturally select a 2.8 mph walking pace as the most economical one. “Economical” in this case means expending the LEAST energy to sustain the activity. Not the pace for losing weight and burning max cals, but a great pace to using fat as fuel (vs carbos) and to stay motivated to keep moving moderately.
What does “moderate” intensity mean though? If you walk about 100 steps per minute then you are cruising along at a moderate pace. Another way to calculate moderate intensity is to complete 3000 steps in 30 minutes. Interestingly enough — especially for those of you who prefer the elliptical machine, a pace as low as 1.7 mph with inclines of 6-9% still stimulates weight management (not LOSS, mind you).
However, we are talking about kicking it up yet another notch to use walking as a weight loss means. We’re now into the “brisk” walk category. That 2.8 mph has to shift into calorie overdrive to 3.5 mph. Zoom zoom! Yes, walk faster! Go uphills. HIt the incline button. Breathe and sweat with no breaks for instagramming selfies. (That was for my sister, the ultimate selfie picture taker who is famously quoted as saying she does not want to actually sweat when walking.)
If you are tempted to add ankle or hand weights in order to increase intensity — uh unh, no, stop right there. Listen to the experts:
Either may result in injury or repetitive stress syndrome. Nor do those added weights increase energy expenditure. Walkers tend to slow down just enough to account for the weights at the end of those limbs. Yes, risk goes up, benefits do not.
A pedometer study of an Old Order Amish community showed that the men averaged 18,000 steps per day and have an obesity rate of ZERO!! percent. Yes, 0%; The Amish women in this group averaged 14,000 steps per day with an obesity rate of just 4%.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
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 Move Like Jagger! 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.
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 young, energetic dog. We’re easy around here how you get to the total and new studies support that ease. Sure walking for weight loss is wonderful. 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.
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?
As Dr. Michael Luan, an 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?
You will be amazed at how foresightul Dr. Michael is in this interview we did with him for our radio show.
Click on the link above or play button below to access the complete episode.
Dr. Michael will motivate you to get moving. And that 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.
Go for more conscious brain and body development when you
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
As you age, do you also have aches and pains that come and don’t go? Did you know that a huge percentage of fitness professionals and active people suffer from chronic pain? This pain epidemic seems to be a silent one in the workout world. Are you someone whose ongoing pains affect your ability to exercise, be comfortable in your body, or enjoy once-beloved activities? I know I’m in that category. If so, then consider whether CranioSacral Therapy (CST) might work for you.
Craniosacral Therapy, or cranial-sacral therapy, is a form of bodywork that focuses on regulating the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and acknowledging that we are mostly made up of water. Using a light and precise touch, the CST practitioner finds and corrects imbalances in the cerebrospinal fluid and structures surrounding and protecting the brain and spinal cord. This in turn relieves tension and releases restrictions throughout the body. The concept is rooted in the belief that your body ultimately knows how to heal itself. Or in layKymberly terms: you lie still on a massage table, let your mind wander, maybe take a nap during the session, as the CST bodyworker holds your feet or head or sacrum, for example. It looks, feels, and seems as though not much is going on aside from loud stomach rumbling. More like gurgling, in my case.
No, it’s not a massage nor acupressure. No, chanting is not involved. Yes, a good CST practitioner is sensing and tracking your cerebrospinal flow. Yes, it’s sounds very oooweee woooeee, especially for a cognitive sort like myself. But I was willing to keep an open mind, plus I was desperately in pain and other solutions had not yet gotten me back on my (wanna be comfy) feet.
Teaching my step classes and powerwalking got to the point that every step was agony. The pad of my right foot felt like it was on permafire; my perpetually puffy left knee would keep me awake after a day of any cardio exercise. Sitting too long also made my knee throb. No way did I want to quit working out; in fact, I ached (pun intended snarfle snarfle) to exercise even more intensely, especially as menopause took its weight gain toll. My podiatrist suggested surgery; I went alternative medicine rogue.
Keep in mind I had already seen Alexandra go through a similar foot surgery, with all its challenges. Ditch that route! Read about my prior attempts to seek pain free movement. I tried different shoes (helped quite a bit for walking, not for step and cardio classes though); orthotics (also helped with the foot pain but started causing other imbalances and compensations); foam rolling (also helped, but only temporarily); supplements (also made me feel better, but only when I remembered to take them daily and forever). All the options I tried were temporary, but nothing was solving the underlying problem — my movement patterns were somehow off kilter.
And I am not alone. Chances are good (bad, really) that you and many women you know — especially baby boomers — suffer from joint and muscle chronic pain. If you are like me, you are not wanting to slow down or do less. If anything, you want to do more. I do, anyway. I have big travel plans and the new house we are building has a set of entry stairs I plan to climb into my dotage. I wouldn’t mind competing in some sport again either. Such as Dancing With the Stars, for example!!!!! Or running and playing soccer. A Boom Chicka Boomer can dream. Especially in the middle of a CST session.
Lots of options exist to manage pain. Alternative medicine and non-mainstream therapies are coming into their own for good reasons. The method that seems to be working for me is CST. (Another method I just discovered and am excited about is called MELT, but that’s another story. And radio episode and blog post. Stick with us at Fun and Fit if you are looking for more discoveries about aging with less pain.)
Do a search on CranioSacral Therapy. Check the qualifications of any CST practitioners you are considering. Be willing not to fully understand the process and to listen to what your body signals when lying still. Bottom line – are you in less pain after a few sessions? Finally I can say that I see light and sweetness at the end of my long pain tunnel. Yes, I already booked my next CranioSacral Therapy session. Let me know what you use for your “Get Out of Pain” card. Aces — not braces nor ace bandages — for us all!
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
So what news about boosting your brain through exercise did we glean from our brush with an intellectual celebrity?
(Ok, Dr. Ratey actually said “anti-aging,” but we are not against aging. We are for aging as actively as possible, so I reworded the phrase. Literary license, people!). Dr. Ratey stressed this heavily in his book and presentation: nothing compares to the effect of movement when it comes to living life “younger” as nothing makes our brain cells work harder than exercise.
While we may not see results right away from our workouts, we reap MENTAL benefits within moments. The super important neurotransmitter is BDNF — Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor. BDNF activates learning when we perform cardio. As Dr. Ratey (aka, my BFF and dinner buddy “John”) says, “BDNF is a crucial biological link between thought, emotions, and movement. Our neurotransmitters offer ‘cerebellum training’ during and after each aerobic bout.” That clear-headed feeling we get from working out is literally a head full of enhanced brain power and activity. Dr. Ratey offered this “insta-result” fact as a way to motivate ourselves to move more.
New experiences and challenges enhance our cognitive skills (be smarter, stave off the odds of dementia, keep our memory strong, add brain matter and circuitry throughout life). Maybe we take a walk that goes left instead of right; or we change up our morning routine somehow. Perhaps we add intensity or complexity to an action we are already performing. Apparently the experiences we can create for ourselves to stay mentally strong do not have to be huge or entirely new. Even small challenges rewire our brains for the better. If you are in a workout rut, snap out of it (to quote Cher’s character in Moonstruck).
All mammals play, so the more we can bring joy and playfulness into our workouts, the better off our brains will be. At the very least, play reduces stress. Lower chronic stress levels are related to a healthier life and stronger brain. In short, make exercise fun. Does this mantra from Fun and Fit sound familiar? If your current routine A) doesn’t exist; B) is not fun; C) is ho-hum routine, then challenge yourself to try new activities until you find the ones you enjoy. Like how you can combine tips 3 and 4 here?
Those were the highlights from Dr. Ratey’s talk. If you are keen to get even more keen, read Spark, ideally right after working out… at Rancho la Puerta! That would be a really smart move!
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Kymberly: Losing 10 pounds in 4 weeks is a big goal, but doable … if you are willing to either work hard and change your eating habits ooorrrr….. take some drastic measures. Let’s check out those drastic measures first, since they are easier. First, cut off as much of your hair as possible. Next, go nekkid (since most people wear clothes when assessing weight usually via a scale). Lastly, embark on some crazy diet. So that about wraps up the bad and popular advice that meets the goal. (Readers – don’t say you never thought of these approaches! We hear of them all the time!)
Alexandra: It’s reasonable, sustainable and realistic long-term to lose 1.5 – 2 pounds per week if you combine intense cardio with resistance training and a nutritious diet. So it will be hard to lose 10 pounds in such a short time. I think you’ll be happier, more motivated, and more successful if you focus on improving your eating and exercise. The weight will drop off more naturally that way.
Eating: Choose foods that are close to the ground. By this I don’t mean, “Oh, I dropped my bag of chips”; I mean the fewer ingredients the better. Even if you eat the same amount in weight/ volume, the healthier foods will tend to have fewer calories. So, enjoy a bowl of strawberries rather than strawberry jam on toast. Move most of your food intake toward the first part of the day. And eat breakfast! (Read all about it!)
Exercise: You can do low intensity movement (below 60% of your maximum Heart Rate, which means about 3-5 on a scale of 1-10) , moderate intensity (60-80% of max HR; 6-8 on 10-scale), or high intensity (80-90% of max HR: 9 on 10-scale). Most people feel comfortable doing low and moderate intensity, yet decidedly uncomfortable at high intensity. It’s a time-saving choice if your joints and current level of physical ability allow you to try high intensity once or twice a week.
Kymberly: Lovette, we made this video just for you (and anyone else we can corral) about the difference between low, moderate, and high intensity cardio levels. Feel free to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Really. Now.
Alexandra: One little side note (as opposed to “snide,” which I would never use with anyone unless it’s my sister) is to differentiate between high intensity and high impact. Many high intensity moves are also high impact (i.e., jacks, burpees, running), but if you’re like me (one reconstructed soccer knee and two big-headed kids pushed out that tiny birth canal), you don’t like high impact. So you can always do high intensity in the pool, on the elliptical or even on the step or large stability ball!
Go forth. Move and Lose. Eat. Rinse. Repeat.
Kymberly: As for your question as to whether you need to work out more than twice a week to drop this weight in this time frame. HAYUL YES! Skip the part about 2 hours per session, but you need to get busy at least 5 days a week. Include both strength training and aerobic workouts.
Readers: Who has successfully lost and kept off 10 pounds? How? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?
Photo Credit: Creative Commons: Mike Schmid
By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA