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18

Fit to Be Holiday Gifts

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA & Alexandra Williams, MA

Thanksgiving is over and we know from your messages and comments that some of you took those few extra steps to avoid those few extra bites! Since this is A.MER.I.CA, that means it’s now time to go shopping, right? Okay, that was a little tongue in cheek, because we do actually like to find gifts for our loved ones, but that whole “get up before you go to bed just to get pepper sprayed by the crazed woman who wanted clear access to the gaming consoles” is not for us!

Pepper Spraying Cop & Shoppers

Crazed Shoppers & Pepper Spraying Cop

So we’re going to suggest a few gifts that are fitness and health related. Suuuur-prise, suuur-prise!

Crave Results workout DVD

I Crave Results AND Angie Miller's Abs

First up is Angie Miller’s “Crave Results” strength and cardio DVD. Here at the Fun and Fit ranch, we are sticklers for good form, technique, knowledge, modifications, progressions and attention to the latest research.

Alexandra: Angie does an excellent job incorporating:

  • progressions from easier to more challenging
  • explanation of technique and muscles being worked
  • balance work
  • core moves
  • crossing midline (which really helps the brain)
  • tempo changes (which also really help the brain)
  • modifications (both for the moves and the equipment)
  • interesting choreography that’s easy to follow, yet unique
  • smooth transitions

I’d move the static stretches from the warm-up over to the cool-down, but that’s essentially my only quibble with it. I am a huge fan of substance, safety and effectiveness, and “Crave Results” is a workout I definitely recommend. And I rarely say that. You can get it at Angie’s site for $19.99, plus the cost of hand weights and the optional resistance tube.

Next up is another gift you can order online: Pure Bliss Eats is a brand new fit fare site by fellow FitFluential Ambassador, Nicole Culver.

Pure Bliss Granola

PB & Choco Chip Granola by Pure Bliss. Exactly!

Alexandra: The holidays are associated with food, and we are not here to change that. But there’s no culture rule that says holiday food has to be crap! Pure Bliss Eats treats are organic, healthful and oh-so-appealing. If I told you the ingredients, you’d think, “Oh, a health food with stuff I never heard of.” So instead I’ll tell you the names of a few of the treats: Instant Boost Chocolate Balls, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins, Apple Spice Granola, and even Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. My package is arriving soon, so you just know I’ll be posting pictures of myself eating up with a smile! I just made up a new motto for these: “Get the good without the guilt.” After you try them, let me know if you agree!

Kymberly: We would be amiss (or two misses; or is that a hit and a miss, with me being the “hit”?) if we did not mention the ultimate stocking stuffer–our digital and e-books: “73 Exercise Quotes to Help You Get and Stay in Shape,” the companion e-book, 63 Motivational Quotes to Help You Get and Stay in Shape,” and “Mind Your Fitness,” another collection of motivational sayings, exhortations, quotes, and “blurbs,” co-published with another FitFluential Ambassador pal, Heather Frey of SmashFit.  So if you are looking for gifts under $5 or even under $2, then odds are good you will stay on track and under budget with these babies!

These gift ideas sort of cover Fitness, Feeling Good and Food! We weren’t paid anything to share our opinions, although we’ll happily do sponsored posts (and just as happily give our frank, professional opinions). We did receive a free review copy of Angie Miller’s “Crave Results” DVD.

Photo credits: AngieMillerFitness.com, PureBlissEats.com and peppersprayingcop.tumblr.com

Readers, go-getters, and go-givers: What’s on your gift list?

14

Exercise Your Right to a Better Brain

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Abnormal Brain from Young Frankenstein

"You used a brain from someone called Abby Normal?"

Kymberly: Do you want to increase your brain power right now, this minute, starting immediately or even sooner? If so, do you know what to do? If you guessed that some kind of exercise is involved in this answer, you are quite smarticle! And for maximum increase in your neuronal activity and literal brain growth, check out the elements that help the most.

 

Alexandra: Hold on a sec. What do you mean by “literal” brain growth? Is there some other type of brain growth? Are you saying if you exercise, you will have an “exceptionally large mind?”

K: Yes, I mean your brain will literally grow dendrites, extend axons, and branch out more like a social climber at a networking party.  While any of the following factors alone will enhance brain power, combining them into one Mega-activity will propel you above and beyond:

  • Engaging at least two senses simultaneously, such as touch and sight;
  • Listening for cues or commands;
  • Moving to music with polyrhythmic beats;
  • Following somewhat complex movement patterns;
  • Trying something novel.

Hmm, when you put all these elements together, does it make you think of any particular kind of workout? Like group fitness classes, for instance? Get thee to a classery (active people will recognize the reference cuz’ they’re so with it).

Oh, and another factor that aids brain growth is:

  • Getting sufficient sleep

Preferably not while engaging in the aforementioned group fitness workout.

A: Right after you finish your exercise, call your school and politely demand they make P.E. mandatory and daily! That way your kids will be as smart as you (only while they’re teens). We have a few favorite programs that combine the “smartener elements” so we’ll give them a shout-out right now:
Drums Alive & Academic Beats by Carrie Ekins (you can listen to our radio interview with her as of Oct 19 at http://www.womensradio.com/users/Kymberly-and-Alexandra-Williams-Evans/1022/episodes.htm!) Batuka Dance: We are getting all trained up in this so we can revisit our childhood dancing talents…(we use the word “talents” here fairly loosely, but our mom was a dance teacher, and we have the leotards to prove it). Any well-taught Step class. Why not attend Kymberly’s Step classes at Spectrum in Santa Barbara? No pressure! Maybe she’ll wear one of the leotards I saved for her.

Photo credits: Creative Commons avhell

6

Brain Envy: Be Thinner, Smarter & Happier

Dr Amen at IDEA Convention with K and A Brain envy time

Dr. Amen is amazed at our brains!

Do you have brain envy? Even better, would you like others to have brain envy of you? We do! We just got back from the annual IDEA international fitness convention and found all kinds of interesting stuff to share with you. Dr. Daniel Amen, author of “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body” and 27 other books gave a lecture called “The Secrets to Being Thinner, Smarter and Happier.” Want to know those secrets?

Alexandra: The brain is linked so strongly to what you eat and how much you move that its size, shape and function actually change. As your weight goes up, your brain size goes down. You do NOT want to become a victim of Dinosaur Syndrome – big body, little brain = extinct! Sadly, the brains of obese people look 16 years older in scans than they are. And Dr. Amen showed a picture of a very healthy 82 year-old brain, so age does not guarantee brain deterioration.

Dinosaurs had tiny brains and Brain envy

Dino Syndrome: Big Body / Little Brain = Extinct

Kymberly: However, having a birthday this weekend guarantees age! Only 6 more shopping days until twinnie’s birthday. I hope she gets some new dendrites, ganglia, and neurotransmitters for her big day.

Having read 6 of Dr. Amen’s books, I developed serious brain envy, so for my birthday I plan to work out and eat healthfully. Right after the small piece of chocolate cake. I want to do what it takes to stave off any mental decline and have the heaviest, most active brain possible into my 90s and beyond!  My real birthday wish is for you all to have the same!

A: The mind controls the body, not the other way round. It’s your brain that tells you it’s okay to eat a second helping of ice cream, and it’s also your brain that tells you to push away from the table.

Tips to help you put your brain consciously in control:

  • Get rid of as much sugar in your diet as possible. Research has shown sugar to be more addictive than cocaine. And guess where sugar is usually found – in high-fat junk food!
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. When you get less than 7 hours, you have lower blood flow to the brain.
  • Say no to liquid poison. Alcohol is not your friend. If you drink every day, your brain gets smaller. Alcohol penetrates the blood/ brain barrier and literally acts like a poison within your brain.
  • When making decisions about food and movement, ask yourself, “Does this hurt or help my brain?” When you are making these choices consciously, it’s hard to believe you’d choose to hurt yourself.
Does your lifestyle enhance your brain power or detract from it? Click To Tweet
  • Move more. Sit less.
  • Meditate, do yoga, go for a walk–anything that calms your mind. When you are troubled, you are more likely to have a troubled brain and body.
  • Avoid eating excess fat, which has exactly the same effect as eating toxins. Do you want toxins?
  • Keep a food journal.
  • Engage in new learning.
  • Make yourself aware of which friends or relatives help you, and which ones sabotage you. Plan accordingly.
  • Write down your motivation and look at it every day.

K: So, does your lifestyle enhance your brain power or detract from it? Remember, the choices you make today affect your brain TODAY and into the future. Hey, if my brain is the ultimate controller, why does Alexandra keep saying she’s in charge?

Choices you make today affect your brain TODAY & into the future Click To Tweet

Dear readers: This seems like a perfect moment to direct you to our TrasnsformAging webinar slides and recordings. If you are ready to improve your brain and body, click to see what’s on the other side.

Dino photo: Creative Commons

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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1

Olympian Eating Disorder: Catherine Garceau’s Inspirational Fitness Story

Guest post from Catherine Garceau

Catherine Garceau

Catherine Garceau – Bronze Medal Olympian

At the Sydney 2000 Olympics, I was honored to win a Bronze Medal as part of Canada’s Synchronized Swimming Team. You’d think I’d be set for life after that, right? Well, not really. Like everyone else, I’ve gone through the roller coaster ride of life. In fact, in contrast to my podium high, in 2008, as my weight neared 200 pounds, I hit an all time low–and experienced complete desperation.

“If I could just recommit to regular exercise, get to sleep before 10pm every night, do the master cleanse for 10 days, and stop bingeing, I’d get my body back,” I thought again and again. But the more I aimed for perfection, the more I found myself plunging into a bag of M&Ms or Doritos (or both!).  My dedicated weeks of  “perfection” came back to haunt me every time, leading to humiliating binges, chronic fatigue, and depression.

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, I hope you can find, as I did, a whole new way to approach weight loss and exercise.  For me, this turn-around started when a naturopathic friend gave me a gift: a Qigong DVD.  “Qigong…for weight loss?” my athletically obsessed and skeptic mind chattered. But at that point, I was desperate and willing to try anything. So I began the daily practice of this Qigong (wuyijiehe.com). And to my surprise, little by little, my days became more peaceful and my body calmer. Qigong started to fill me with increased energy from within. Still I wondered: Could I ever get my strong and toned body again? And was it even necessary? I decided I’d only commit if I could do so without imposing harsh and regimented training routines on myself.  I flew out into the cosmos my intention to find a ‘whole new way’ of experiencing weight loss, exercise and healing.

Gradually I lost weight as I accepted and embraced my body’s needs for rest, balanced nutrition, and a spiritual foundation of faith. Above all, I followed a ‘no rushing‘ rule—I was in this for the long-term– no more quick-fix.

Synchronicities kept showing me the way. For instance, I’d think of a question I had about one aspect of digestion, and ‘poof’ someone would hand me a book addressing this very issue. I’d follow my love for dolphins and ‘poof’ be offered a job to perform as a Mermaid in Vegas. Just short of one year later, after I had decided to move back with my family to rebuild my life and career, my mother kept telling me about a nearby phys-ed teacher who was attracting up to eighty women per night to dance it up in a neighborhood school gym. Never would I have guessed that Zumba Fitness would be this ‘whole new way’ of exercise for me… but that day, after one hour of Latin inspired aerobics, I came home smiling, sweaty, energized and full of hope!

And just as Qigong had become my body-mind practice to foster deep energy generation and rejuvenation, Zumba classes became my time to forget about my worries, loosen up, and have fun. What was most transformative for me wasn’t the great sweat and cardio I got out of each class, but most importantly, I learned to exercise without the cruel energy of punishment featured by my Olympic training workouts in the past.

Wellness Olympia, Canada, Catherine GarceauEven Dr. Daniel Amen, whom I interviewed for my Wellness Olympiad expert library, confirmed the benefits I was getting out of Zumba: “Few activities stimulate as wide a variety of brain systems as dancing does,” says Dr. Amen.  And he was right! Much more than weight loss and toning, my organizational skills got better, my memory improved, my body felt lighter and I refound my zest for life! Everything I had studied for so long and seen manifest in others became my reality too.

Now, in addition to coaching privately and teaching 360 Degrees Of Nourishment, a 6-week course I teach online, I now teach both Qigong and Zumba in my local community. This is all great practice for an exciting future ahead, involving dancing and public speaking.

My greatest hope is that YOU find YOUR ‘whole new way’ to exercise and LOVE your body. Five keys to help you:

  • See the gift in your downfall; it really can be a new door opening!
  • Look for synchronicities, invitations, and new activities. The Universe is always conspiring to make you succeed!
  • Less IS more. Replace rules, pain and extended hours at the gym with new body-mind practices such as yoga/qigong.
  • Think long term; don’t be a in a rush.
  • Ditch The Workout, Join The Party”: try a Zumba class (www.zumba.com) or find your own way to party as you exercise!

Catherine Garceau's book, Heart of BronzePlease visit www.wellnessolympiad.com/free for some of the freebies I now offer.  Also, look out for my book, Heart of Bronze. Until then, keep it light!
With joy,

Catherine Garceau
Olympic Bronze Medalist,
Founder of the Wellness Olympiad
www.wellnessolympiad.com
www.catherinegarceau.com

4

Train Your Brain

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

The latest in brain research makes it abundantly clear: If you want a sound mind and body, your brain must be in balance. Now some people might claim that half of Fun and Fit (the missing half this week, aka Alexandra) are wacky and off-balance! And they might be right….. But that’s another post that looks at the role wit and laughter play in longevity.

Graphic of brain from Heather Frey

Want to be a Brainiac? Buy this e-book co-authored with Heather Frey

This blog is mine, all mine. (Insert maniacal laughter here) as A-twin is off on vacation. She’s probably upping her serotonin and dopamine levels, which is a brain balancing good thing! So you all get to hear about my fave topic these days (ok, my “obsession”) –– how can we achieve the healthiest brain possible?

  • 1) First off, the more active your body, the more balanced your brain. Move, move, move if you want to be smarter! Lean, active people lessen their odds of having dementia by HALF; obese, inactive people increase their odds of dementia (including Alzheimer’s) by DOUBLE! Who is least likely to develop Alzheimer’s? People who move, laugh, AND eat brain smart foods. (Look for upcoming posts that reveal the most brain boosting foods and activities).
  • 2) Be aware that more than any other organism in the body, the brain is affected by your workout, lifestyle, and eating choices. The type of exercise that most stimulates your brain? Cardio! Even a simple, low key walk or dance class “youthens” your brain. Hmmm, makes me wonder why we have the word “ages” but I had to make up the word “youthens.”
  • 3) Exercise literally changes your brain, all for the better. You can “train” your blood vessels, including the ones feeding your brain, to get more fit with exercise. Activity directly influences learning at the cellular level. In addition to priming our mind, exercise improves the brain’s ability to log in and process new information. In short, exercisers are better learners. Contrast for a moment to working out primarily to get in shape, lose weight, lower fat, and all those other key motivators. Doesn’t the thought of getting smarter with age motivate you even more?

That’s enough sitting and reading for now, eh? Time to get a move on.  She’s a brainiac, brainiac, on the floor, and she’s dancing like she’s never danced before!

For the record, the rumors of twins being half-wits are not true! I got all the brains! Alexandra got the looks, personality, inheritance, sympathy cards.

Readers: What would you do to get smarter with age and be the most intelligent 100 year old around?

Brain Graphic courtesy of the talented Heather Frey, aka SmashFit, a fitness pro par excellence AND a graphic designer! Did I mention that exercise also increases creativity?

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