A: Legersizes? Legersizes? Is that a Dutch word or a leftover from a Jane Fonda video you have stashed away somewhere? Okay, relax your mind. You are growing sleepy, sleepy. You are traveling back to the early 80s. You are pulling on your leg-warmers and leotard. SNAP! Wake up and get moving, Miss Jackie Foxy Dutchy Brown! Time for your legersizes.
We’ll get to number three later. If your lower body and hip area are carrying any extra fat, you need to engage in regular cardio activity to use up calories. Power walking, biking, and ice skating along frozen canals are all popular and effective cardio activities.Tulip picking does not qualify unless you are running as you grab tulips. In this case you are probably running from the bulb growers who can’t believe you can move so fast in skinny, tight jeans carrying snatched tulips. Of course you cannot zap fat in one particular area through cardio (sometimes called SPOT REDUCING, which is bad English and worse fitness advice), but you can reduce overall fat if that is part of why the jeans are not fitting now.
In addition to reducing stored fat through cardio, you are right to want to do some lower body strength training as well. Not only will such training improve your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories at rest) and help use calories before they get stored as excess body fat, but also you will define and streamline the leg muscles. The important thing is to distinguish between training for hypertrophy (bigger muscles, which you probably don’t want) and actual strength. The exercises Alexandra advises below are all perfect for your goal in that they mostly use your body weight against gravity as the resistance factor. That is, you are not taking on heavy loads as you perform the leg exercises, aka legersizes.
A: I would happily describe some actual exercises for you, but my fingers are all worn out from pulling on my leg-warmers and “tushy-floss” thong leotard. Since you say “do-it-yourself,” I assume you mean at home, no machines, right? Or do you mean you want to grab your leg and move it around a little? Come to think of it, hopping around on one leg, doing the “Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien dance-off” bit.ly/9zUzr3 would be pretty special. But I digress. Since we love happy readers, though, here is a link to some nice exercises that should do the trick:bit.ly/97ZqT2. Pay particular attention to the 3-legged squat, wide squat, single-leg dip squat, all-fours alternate arm/leg lift, lunge w/barbell or bar, alternating power lunges, prone leg lift, standing single-leg hip extension with knee flexion and (finally, I was starting to bore myself) the hip bridge. These are all great exercises, and there are many more, yet here is the most important thing of all…wait for it…wear your skinny jeans while doing all these exercises. That way you know for sure that they’ll fit.
K: Now that your jeans fit, let’s discuss that third aspect mentioned above: fashion tastefulness. If your skinny jeans can easily be imitated by spray paint or if when wearing them you suddenly develop Muffin Top syndrome, then what the heck are you thinking??!! Get some other kind of Euro pants that allow you to comfortably and tastefully cruise the achthondered achtentachtig grachten (888 canals).
Fashionista Readers (including foreigners who speak English): What outfit did you devote exercise time and effort to just so you could wear that special outfit?
K: Tip number one: Do not let age catch up with you. Run faster. Oh wait, with age the knees start to go so running might not be too comfy. And F and F LOVE comfy fitness. And dark chocolate. Tip number two: Retire super early from your full time desk job and do something that requires loads of outdoor activity. We do have our fitness priorities after all! Then I woke up….
A: You may not like this, but you might have to run faster just to stay in place. TAKE YOUR FINGERS OUT OF YOUR EARS. I KNOW YOU CAN HEAR ME! At 54, the rate at which you burn calories has slowed down, especially if you sit on your Bartleby the Buttolomus (lost Latin term meaning “butt”) most of the day. So, you are not burning the kcals quite as quickly — fat goes up, muscle mass goes down — the roller coaster of your BMR and metabolism goes zooming along. Good news, you don’t have to be the high bidder for a leftover “Gone With the Wind” corset. You do have to lift those weights a bit more. If you are currently doing strength training, you need to either do it more often or with heavier weights. Increase the cardio — either go longer or harder. And eat less! Shazaam 1, 2, 3.
K: Good news: cut back on the 200 sit ups. Remember, you cannot spot reduce. All the ab crunches in the world are not going to nuke any mid-section fat. You do need to expend calories to prevent fat and weight gain, so Alexandra is right to recommend the combo of cardio and weight training. Oooh, admitting her rightliness did not hurt as much as I thought. Or as much as 200 ab crunches per day with minimal results.
The short version of our advice is boiled down to three plain potatoes: eat fewer calories, or burn more through increased activity, or do both. Full disclaimer: Fun and Fit fully believe that movement is the Fountain of Youth, yet we must acknowledge that the Fountain is fed by “spring-in-the step pure exercise well waters” that require more pumping (iron) as we age.
The super short version of our advice is to say, “the heck with it. I needed a new wardrobe anyway.” But probably better to pump the Fountain Well.
A: The final words from me: Forget about Mr. (Eating) Right. Go with Mr. (Eating) Less. But marry Mr. (Exercising) Good Enough.
Readers: Were you aware that weight training is part of a good weight-loss program? Have you ever visited the Fountain of Youth?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
K: If you are wanting to reach true Bridezilla status, you are already on the right path. Stay inactive, increase your frustration, lose more patience, and take out your stress, pain, and weight gain on those around you. Instead of saying “bum ankle,” pare down to just “bum” and mean your fiancé.
A: A true Bridezilla would claim that both ankles are sprained, and insist on being carried to all events. So you might just be a “Wanna-Willa-Zilla.”
K: Okay, fine, you can have some serious humorous advice. Given your pending wedding, focus on getting ready for that versus strengthening your ankle. Even with a sprain you have many workout options. Commit to a full strength training program: upper body, abs, lower body. Choose non- or low-weight bearing lower body exercises. For cardio, get into a pool or onto a bike. Then ride like the wind, Bridezilla! Cue up the Wicked Witch music from Wizard of Oz. You could also get onto low-impact cardio equipment such as a stationary bike, elliptical machine or rower. Avoid the treadmill or stairclimber for now.
A: Shouldn’t we tell her to avoid people for now too? I mean, it’s just a month until the wedding. Who wants to be around that? Any exercise suggestions we make are not medical advice, by the way. Make sure your doc or physical therapist approves of our winning ways before attempting bungee jumps or anything that “almost hurts.” With that in mind, I have lots of students who surf and skateboard, and I put them on wobble boards, discs, and the BOSU® to strengthen their ankles. Here is a link that describes some excellent exercises: bit.ly/9L28uP. You are required to print it out, decorate it with doilies and have all your wedding guests perform these exercises while your band plays, “Red Right Ankle” by the Decemberists. To prevent re-injury, you might want to find out about plantar flexion (bendy indoor plants), dorsi flexion (flipbooks about dolphins), inversion (a DVD you watch at home), and eversion (what I do when it comes to chores) bit.ly/9hEgDz. Why? So you can ask your physical therapist what your feet do and choose the right exercises for the future. You are planning an exciting future full of love, joy, candy, tip-toeing through the tulips, and a complete lack of spousal snoring, right?
K: Lastly, Fun and Fit are sorry you hurt your ankle so close to your big day. What a Bud-a Pest that must be!
A: The doc advised me to work with Kymberly “just until it almost hurts” and look how that turned out! Constant nagging pain. But don’t tell her that I call her that.
Dear Readers (and Bridezillas): What contributed to your pre-wedding stress? Have you had to deal with any Bridezillas? What are “girly” push-ups?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
A: First of all, let me explain for any readers who are unfamiliar with this workout, it does NOT refer to chipped beef on toast (and I DO know the slang term for it – Fun and Fit get out a lot). “30 Day Shred” is a work out that combines muscle work with cardio moves. Tamie, if your muscles are fatigued in a good way (you have some soreness, but can still crawl to the DVD player to push “stop”) then you can move up a level, sure. But why would you want to do that? It wouldn’t be fun, so you wouldn’t continue, right? Just like me trying to live with Kymberly (I call those the “Bossed Years”). Because my metabolic set point is stuck on “lethargic,” I am almost too inert to tell you that……zzzzzz….cardio…next level…snork. To get to the next level, push the “up” button on the shred cardio elevator.
K: Answer-wise, you are cardio-wise to wonder. Like me trying to figure out what Alexandra just ad-wised. Can you pretend you are at Lululemon trying on clothes that Mix and Match? Is the DVD workout set up in a way you can view Level 1 for the strength training part and jump to Level 2 for the cardio part? Sounds as though you do have the option to select a higher intensity cardio portion while sticking with the initial level of resistance work. Ideally you want to enjoy both the process and the goal. If you are too wiped out to move up a level with joy and eagerness, you have entered the “30 Day Dread” zone. You are probably not a’gonna last 30 days into Infinity and Beyond! (Toy Story, Level 1).
A: I think I’ll put this whole thing into terms I can understand. You have a new boyfriend.You expect eternal joy to occur in 30 days. You like going for walks on the beach with him, but it’s kind of boring and your heart doesn’t go “Ka-thunka, ka-thunka” like you wish it would. But he has these other fine qualities that make you go skippity-hop through the tulips until you are all tuckered out. You are asking if you should go bounding through the sunflowers and get exceptionalistically (definition found in “Nabokov’s Dictionary”) exhausted or stay with the eye-gazing beach stroll-a-thon. I say, stick with the tulips (my favorite flower), but start running on that beach. If he (let’s just call him Hearty Rat – or HR) really loves your body, HR will catch up and adjust. I shall now sip a beverage of deliciousness while Kymberly translates.
K: Translate??!! Alexandra, we already established that we do not have twin telepathy. (See “Spinning, Walking, Treading Are Big Fat Pains,” June 2010 post ) We don’t even have the same parents or husbands. Stick with Level 1 for metaphors but jump to Level 2 with Hearty Rat HR attack while Tamie mixes, matches, and shreds in batches.
Readers: What do you do when your heart rate says “yes,” but your muscles say “no?” Would you rather work out with Woody or Buzz? And does anyone actually eat chipped beef on toast?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
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.
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
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
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?
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?
Kymberly: Oh, Stacey, I could kiss your plump and nicely toned cheek for giving us a saggy boobs question! Think of all the hits we’ll get when people type in the key word “boobs.” Yes, We will become the porn fitness leaders of the internet world instead of the highly respected pros we thought we once were. Alexandra, you had better handle this one as you are the one with the smaller (secret code for “deflated”) boobs. That’s what you get for losing all that weight yourself, Miss “I am now so trim and everyone thinks I am your younger sister, not twin.”
Alexandra: If your boobs (let’s call them “plumpers”) are saggy and clinging to your ribcage, who cares about your skin? You’ve got bigger problems. And how much of that extra 20-30 pounds can you realistically blame on the saggers? I’d go for 10 pounds. So you only have another 10-20 to go! You are part way to your goal already. Do you like push-ups? Sure, you do. Every woman I’ve ever met loves them (Ahahaaaaaaa). But if you can get some muscle tone going all that sag, you’ll look perky and youthful.
But what if you don’t like push ups?. Here’s what you do: lie on your back on a mat or bench or even your bed (if it’s an extra-firm mattress). Do you have some weights? You are not off the hook if you don’t. Just grab a few bags of beans or cans of sauce from your cabinet – they can be your weights. I’ll let Kymberly describe your chest press form while I go check the mirror to assess my perky youthful qualities!
Kymberly: Good try foisting the chest press description on me. I want to emphasize the push-up option. Alexandra is so right that the secret to retaining firm frontage while working on weight loss (a separate question addressed in these posts: Best Workouts to Burn Fat for Women Over 50 and Managing Weight as You Age ) is to build up the musculature underneath. Push-ups are free, available everywhere, easy to pack, and the perfect option for lift and anti-sag. As your pec (chest) muscles strengthen underneath the breast tissue, you will have the internal support to get the look and lift you want. Push-ups also strengthen the mid and upper back muscles, which will assist in holding you erect.
Another KEY component to keeping the girls (also now known as your “plumpers”) up while bringing the weight down is posture. Standing tall, proud, and extended instead of rounded or even slightly hunched is like losing five pounds visually in a nano-second. If you want to assess your posture, try our quick test and check out the posts we link to in Look Younger and Thinner Instantly with Better Posture.
Now when we recommend push-ups, we suggest you start with your hands and knees on the floor and aim for ten push-ups, three to five times a week for a couple of weeks. Get some good suggestions on knee to toe push ups here. From there, strive to whip out (no, not the plumpers, you rascal) fifteen push-ups. Once you are comfortable with fifteen knee push-ups, try five on your hands and toes and ten more on your hands and knees.
Discover whether your push up form is fab or faulty by clicking our post, Push Ups: Wrong and Right Way
The goal is to work up to about twenty toe push-ups every other day. Give yourself two months or so to get to that goal. Not only will you see a positive difference in your cleavage, but also you will be on your way to weight loss and some pretty nice arms and posture. Locked and loaded!
Alexandra: What? Is that a math problem? If 5 push-ups are travelling toward 10 trains, at what speed will you crash on the carpet? Get a good bra and take a nap. Nah, get to work. Put a nice bowl of water on the floor and take a slurp each time you drop down on the push-ups. Not only will you know you dropped far enough down, but all that liquid will help your skin get ever so plumpy!
Awesome Action: When you are done with your water slurping and math accented push ups, subscribe to our blog. Get your FREEBIE download and active aging answers twice a week but only if you want to look, feel and move more youthfully!