Dear Alexandra and Kymberly: I just lost my husband, Julian to cancer. Due to all the hospital appointments, my eating habits also got lost! I have put on a lot of weight, but feel so tired and lethargic I can’t get into the mood to do exercise. I have damage to my neck, knees, and lower back (due to a fall) plus my midriff and waist have become “large” and I have lost my waistline. At 69 years young this is depressing me. I am also worried about a “ledge” at the bottom of my tummy and scared it will be “resting” on the top of my legs when I sit down!!!
As well, I look after my 96 year young Mum, who has no balance anymore due to cancer and other problems. So she is only able very slowly to get from one room to another downstairs. I get to bed about 1:30am once my Mum’s medication kicks in and she falls asleep. She usually wakes me about 7am to go to the toilet, then goes back to bed until 10:00. (She is in a hospital bed in my living room so isn’t able to get up by herself). I have been looking after my Mum for 3 years and my husband for the last 2 and half, so have had little sleep etc. which may be the reason I feel tired. Since Julian died, I am still running around for Mum, but not doing the right things to lose the “middle” weight.
I need all the help I can get!! I appreciate other people’s input so have included my name. Kindest regards, Patricia of Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
Dear Patricia: Wow! Talk about the perfect storm for changes to your body, mood, and energy levels! We’re amazed and honored you have time to write to us for advice. Fortunately, we have some practical suggestions that may help you and other widows, post menopausal women, and caregivers gain energy and lose weight. (Check out what we told caregivers who wrote to us with similar concerns: A Workout Plan to Lose Weight When You Are a Caregiver)
If you have a weensy bit more time and energy, then click over go to our YouTube Channel where you can find exercises just right for your goals and capabilities.
Let us know how you fare and feel free to comment below, especially once others share their tips and support. We offer our condolences on your husband’s death.
Alexandra Williams, MA
These rolls are a great place to start if you’re new to using yeast. Or scissors!
I adapted a recipe found in “New Complete Book of Breads.”
1 egg, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
½ cup mashed potato or reconstituted potato flour
¾ cup milk, room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ oz (1 pkg) yeast
1 can Blue Diamond Honey Cinnamon Almonds
3 Tbs melted butter
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top
In a mixer, blend the egg and sugar. Add the potato, milk, softened butter, and salt. Mix together. Add 2 cups of the flour and the yeast, and mix for one minute. Gradually add the rest of the flour, using the dough hook (if you have one; otherwise by hand).
When the dough comes clean off the sides of the bowl (add flour if necessary) and forms a ball around the dough hook (about 5 minutes), cover the bowl and put in a warm place to rise until it’s doubled in size (45-90 minutes).
Once the dough has doubled, cut it in half and form into two 12-inch logs. Cut each log into 12 pieces, rolling each piece into an oval. Using kitchen shears, cut two ears into each roll. As you probably don’t want your bunnies to look like goblins, I recommend you blunt the pointy tips of the ears. Brush the rolls with the melted butter, cover with wax paper and leave them for a second rising until they’ve doubled (about 30 minutes).
While they’re rising, preheat the oven to 400º, then turn it down to 350º after you put the rolls in. Just before you put them into the oven, stick one almond into each bunny as a tail, then sprinkle the rolls with cinnamon sugar. Stick the almond tails in deep enough that they don’t come out during baking. A few of mine kind of squeezed partway out, which caused my boys to make quite a few NSFW jokes about the bunny butts. Bake 10-12 minutes. Makes 24 rolls.
This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds, which is a partnership I’m proud of.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Pssst – if you don’t live in California, read this anyway, as you can probably buy one of the 1.5 millions cases of Sustainability in Practice (SIP) wines near you, which might cheer you up about missing the event.
What is SIP?
When a winery achieves this certification, it means they are committed to practices that support workers and the environment, as well as contributing to cleaner processes. As we’re in a major drought in California, these vintners, ranchers and farmers are leading the way in trying to work with, not against, the land and weather, as no crops will be sustainable if we don’t do something now.
Every time you buy a SIP-certified bottle of wine, you are putting your money toward growers who share your (and my) preferences for sustainable practices. You are casting a vote to keep these vintners in business. By drinking wine! Can you say “win win?” If you’re into social media, you can even use the hashtag #ispySIP. And if you have no idea what a hashtag is, and wonder why I’m co-opting the pound sign, no worries – just ask your local shop if they carry SIP certified wines.
Besides me, who now wants to say, “I spy with my little eye…. wine?”
Earth Day Food & Wine Weekend
Let’s say you are somewhat close to Paso Robles in Central California and want to come to the event April 18th. Held at Castoro Cellars, it’s a food and wine experience that’s high class and low key. Heck, you can wear your flip flops and “I Love California” t-shirt while dancing to the Cali Funk tunes of Proxima Parada if you want. Guess where much of your admission money goes? To educational scholarships for relatives of farmworkers and Spanish education programs. Drink Well and Do Good should be their motto. But it’s not, because I just made it up.
For the record, this is not a sponsored post. They are giving me free admission, but I’m writing about this because one of the organizers is my friend and I know what a fun event it will be. For example, on their Facebook page, I just saw reference to locally grown onion, Gruyere, bacon quiches that will be at the event. Besides, they know the difference between “borne” and “born.” The editor in me is savoring this grammatical knowledge. You know, like a good glass of wine.
Photo credits: Earth Day Food and Wine
Alexandra Williams, MA
So when Almond Breeze Almondmilk contacted me about creating a recipe, the only question I had in my mind was “how will I ever whittle it down to just one recipe?” But I persevered and somehow managed (first world problem, eh).
I’m a vegetarian with a friendly attitude toward vegan ingredients, so this recipe is appropriate for almost anyone. Well, except my younger son, who has luckily outgrown his allergy to soy, yet still hates tofu. But it’s the rare teen who likes tofu anyway, I think. Try it and see if you enjoy this smoothie as much as I do. I usually drink my smoothie while driving, with a piece of multi-grain toast balanced precariously on top of my glass. My older son makes fun of me for this “mom habit.”
1 handful of ice cubes
4 ounces silken tofu
2 teaspoons agave syrup
2 tablespoons flax meal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ounces Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk
Makes 2 shakes, though I tend to just drink some of it, then refill my glass before getting in the car to drive to work. That’s my polite way of saying I rarely share.
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk, which is a perfect match to my mind.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
A 56 year old reader asks how to quickly get back into shape:
Usually I’m in fairly good shape (for my age). I had a really hectic last year with a big work project and it threw me off my game (white flour and sugar became my boyfriend). I probably have about 30 pounds to lose. A normal fun day for me used to be a 25 mile ride followed by a couple of hours of kayaking. I did do a 12 mile hike at sea level a few weeks ago and did fine. I just started walking 4-6 miles, 3-4 times a week. I have access to a fabulous gym and am willing to do whatever there. I enjoy weight training and am familiar with most of the moves.
My eating is not too messy. I’m a vegetable and fruit junkie and am fine without meat. The bread I buy is 100% whole grain and I look for high fiber. Oatmeal or eggs with toast is my usual breakfast. I don’t drink alcohol, sodas of any kind, fruit juices or sports beverages. It’s only coffee in the morning and water the rest of the day. My one vice is coconut milk French Vanilla creamer. It’s almost non-negotiable!!
Kimberly, Lake Tahoe, CA of fiftyjewels.com
Alexandra: Wow, that is pretty detailed. You sound quite healthy, so perhaps it’s a matter of some tweaks to your exercise regimen and diet, not major changes.
Write down everything you are eating, and I mean everything, including 2 sips of wine, 1 bite of Ben & Jerry’s, and 3 almonds. Just the awareness of what you’re eating will create change. You need to find out where you are sabotaging yourself, as oatmeal and eggs aren’t the issue, and you already seem knowledgeable about the hidden sugars/ calories in fruit juice.
Once you’ve tracked your food choices for 3 days, look through your list to see what you can eliminate without obsessing or getting into a battle with yourself. Be aware that a 350 kcal Ding Dong won’t give you the energy, satiety or nutrients that two 390 kcal stalks of celery with peanut butter will. As your creamer is important to you, keep it. I suspect you will need to look at portion sizes more than food choices.
People who are successful at keeping weight off after weight loss aim for 1.5 – 2 pounds loss per week. Thirty divided by 7 weeks is 4 pounds per week. Probably not sustainable in the long run, but if you get a deficit of 14,000 calories per week, you can do it. I do not recommend or endorse this solution. As the possessor of an advanced counseling degree, I’m all about the positive, not the negative, and I’d rather see you feel successful about losing a realistic 15 pounds than unsuccessful if you aim for 30 and reach 15. Can you get a 7,000 per week deficit?
Kymberly: Well, Kimberly, not only do we share a name, but also a similar dilemma. Like you, I have always been active, am 56, and gained 30 pounds in the last few years even though I eat more healthfully than ever before. So I hear you … except that part about wearing a bikini! One-pieces are my friend.
My sister’s key tips are intake focused. My suggestions are output oriented. You need to sub in high intensity interval training at least twice a week and get busy with that strength training that you are fortunate to already value.
Walks are great, (and what I can manage while I await surgery for some knee issues). In your case, you need to change things up as you walk. Get specific cardio plans for weight loss here and here. Basically you need to alternate your long, steady state walks with shorter, heart pounding interval hikes that push your heart rate as high as you can safely tolerate for about 2-3 minutes, then level out. Repeat several times. Push yourself by climbing a steep hill, either outdoors or on cardio equipment such as a treadmill or elliptical. Pick up the pace for a power walk. Strap on a backpack that is loaded and walk hard and fast. If you are kayaking, paddle as if sprinting for a finish line.
Find routes, exercise modes, and paces that vary so you constantly force your body to adapt upwards to the new demands. Alternate the long, semi-comfy routes with shorter, harder ones.
As we age, strength training gets more, not less important. While overloading all major muscles at least two times a week is fantastic, you need to aim for at least three times per week given your time frame and goals. Instead of performing single joint, isolated moves (such as hamstring curls) do multi-joint, or compound exercises, such as squats or lunges.
Since you like resistance training, try this Tabata workout from our friend Tamara Grand. It’s a high intensity, low impact routine that will give your metabolism a calorie-burning jolt.
Alexandra and Kymberly:
Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Not only will you be sleeping instead of eating late-night snacks, you will also be giving the hormones leptin and ghrelin time to do their work. You already know about Sugar. Now you know about Sleep. The other “S” is Stress, which you discovered was an issue during that big work project. Consider listening to meditation music or words while you’re on those walks.
In fact, meditation has just been shown to help with losing weight– pretty exciting stuff, right??!! — so consider adding even 5 minutes of meditation or guided visualization to your day. Our meditation post was written before the recent research on meditation aiding weight loss. Click though, as you will find some good ways to begin a practice.
Alexandra: Choose from above the activities and methods that work for you and that you will actually do. Maybe you’ll enjoy a dance class. Maybe you’ll prefer to do high intensity interval training by yourself in the weight room. Maybe you’ll change the timing of when you eat that fruit.
And of course, take a look at a few of our previous posts that help answer your question:
Lose 10 Pounds in 4 Weeks
Best Workouts to Burn Fat
Do You Have a Stuck Metabolism?
Keep us posted on your progress, as we’d love to help you celebrate your successes. Besides, research has proven that making your goals public increases your chances of success. Okay, I just snuck Accountability in as bonus Tip #7.
Now we’re off to locate our swimsuits for all those hikes we’ll do in Hawaii when we sneak ourselves along on your vacation.
Take your own vacay twice a week when you subscribe to our blog. Enter your email in the right column and start reaching your active aging goals starting …. whenever you take our advice!
Alexandra Williams, MA
Before you try to guess the five ingredients (well, three, since I mentioned two above), you’ll want some good nutrition news about the Flatout Bread ingredients. The two flatbreads that I tried at the breakfast (but didn’t use for this recipe) were Core 12 and Red Pepper Hummus, both of which are powered by chickpeas. The flatbread I used for this salmon recipe is full of navy beans. Yes, I want to break out singing the Village People song. All three flavors have 12 grams of protein and 8-10 grams of carbohydrates.
As I am currently studying for my Nutrition Specialist certification, I am also aware that these flatbreads have 0 trans fat, plus the macrominerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and the micromineral iron. I have had anemia in the past, so am always on the lookout for iron. As well, they are made from whole beans, which is a fiber and protein benefit for a non-meat eater like myself.
Okay, time for the recipe, and I really do hope you’ll try it. When I created this recipe I tried to choose only ingredients that added flavor and benefits.
Curried Salmon and Cantaloupe Protein UP Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper Wrap
First off, I chose the salt and pepper wrap (even though the red pepper hummus is my favorite) because it already had salt and pepper in it, so I didn’t need to add any to the recipe.
½ pound salmon
4 oz organic sour cream
¾ tsp red curry paste
6-7 fresh basil leaves, cut into pieces
½ cup cantaloupe, cubed into small pieces
Grill the salmon, then cut it into small pieces. While it’s cooking, mix the red curry paste and sour cream together in a small bowl. You may be tempted to add water to the curry paste, but resist, y’all, resist, as the cantaloupe has plenty of water and you will cry in frustration if your wraps become soggy. Add the unseasoned salmon to the curry mix and stir them together.
Lay out two Flatout Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper flatbreads on a cutting board, then spread the salmon mixture over them, covering the flatbreads fully. Then sprinkle the cut cantaloupe over the top, followed by the basil. Roll the flatbreads up tightly, starting at the long end, then cut into one-inch sections. That’s it. Eat them. One suggestion – be liberal with the basil, as this recipe is not as exciting without it.
Even though these three new ProteinUP flatbread flavors won’t be in stores for another month, you can try their other wraps and pizza crust using this .50 off coupon:
Then in a month you can return to get the Core 12, Red Pepper Hummus, and Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper and create your own flat, flatter, flattest, flatout love recipes.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Flatout.
Alexandra Williams, MA
At first, I thought it would taste weird to bake bread with that flavor of almond, but I really wanted the challenge, as I like savory breads. Besides, the idea of putting the almonds in a food processor to make a topping for a coffeecake sounded so wrong. If you have a successful recipe for a savory coffeecake, please let me know in the comments.
In any case, I figured if green olive and sausage bread existed, I could create something even better (sorry, that combination just isn’t me), which I did! Yay for me. I scored a touchdown with my recipe, as my older son (who just moved into his first apartment) took most of the bread with him, declaring that his roommates loved the slices I had sent with him the day I baked it.
If you decide to bake this super easy bread – no yeast or rising time needed – let me know your opinion.
12 ¾ oz unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
5-6 oz shredded Mexican cheese mix
2 oz softened butter
4 medium eggs
2 oz milk
2 oz heavy cream
4 oz chopped Blue Diamond Wasabi and Soy Sauce Almonds
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and cream, then add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, stirring enough to moisten and combine the ingredients.
The batter should be somewhat stiff. Turn it into the pan, then use your fingers to smooth the top into a slightly concave shape, with the edges a bit higher than the center.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, then turn it onto a rack to cool. It should be a somewhat golden color. It’s a dense bread, but not heavy. And guess what?! It goes perfectly with beer. Or bacon, according to my son.
This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. I’ve seen some delicious-looking game day snacks from Blue Diamond Almonds go by on Facebook, so you might want to check those out too. You can also see more recipes on their Instagram and Twitter feeds.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Special K sent us some brownies (how did they know I have a son who has chocolate brownies as his preferred food group?!), and I guess they have angels working in their chocolate department, because the brownies are named Divine Fudge and Heavenly Caramel. Whether their status is due to the fact that they have real cocoa in them, or are only 80 calories per brownie, I don’t know. I just know that they were a yummy afternoon snack and I didn’t feel guilty about eating one. And yes, it is possible to satiate the desire for a sweet treat with just one.
In 1908, when the chocolate bar was introduced, it was .6 ounces. By 2002, the smallest version of that chocolate bar was 1.6 ounces. In 1995, the average serving size for a brownie was 3.2 ounces. In the past twenty years, the typical brownie serving has doubled in size. But our bodies want us to live in the past. In other words, we can satisfy our chocolate cravings by eating a Special K brownie that goes back to 1908 by being only .7 ounces. The good news – no corsets involved.
I’m currently studying for my nutrition specialist certification, and know that the majority of the population will indulge in a sweet snack nearly every day. I also know that the majority of the U.S. population is weight-conscious. The 80 calorie Special K brownies might be the solution for you, just as they were for my son.
And if you’re expecting guests, you can put one on the pillow instead of a chocolate mint. About the same size; about the same calories, but without the melty mess. Not speaking from personal experience of course – cough, cough.
For further info about both the Heavenly Caramel and Divine Fudge, visit www.specialk.com, or find them on Facebook or Twitter. And of course, you can always just head to your local grocery store and check them out for yourself.
For further info about getting chocolate mint stains off a pillow, ask your mom. Don’t ask me – I wasn’t successful.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Special K Brownies.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
The new year is starting out well at the Boom Chicka Boomer
ranch, homestead, cottage, boom shack-a lacka. We have 184.108.40.206. exciting exercises, retreats, ebooks, advice, research, food, and all-around goodness to share with you so that you can be up to date. Let’s get rolling, shall we?
1. Top Ten Fitness Trends for 2015
Wonder what the top 10 fitness trends for 2015 are projected to be? Then click the link to see the list compiled by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM),
2. Four Key Trends That Affect You
For YOU, we highlight 4 of those fitness trends relevant to active women who want to be comfortably awesome.
3. Buy This Cookbook (Subtle, eh?)
Eating will continue to be popular in 2015. Shocker, eh? What if we told you about a great recipe book <<<<<——- (click that link) that will have you eating more while losing weight, AND you can keep eating bacon? We are now affiliates for the ——->>>> (or click here) Skinnylicious Cooking downloadable recipe book. This book aligns with our preference for grass-fed meat, healthy ingredients, real food vs. food-like substances, easy, time-saving, delicious, affordable, and metabolism-boosting recipes. In other words, the recipes are designed to work WITH, not AGAINST your body. No dieting involved. You probably already know our low opinion of diets. But we have a high opinion of Skinnylicious and think you will too. But you need to click to find out. And you have to actually get the book and USE it to gain all its benefits. Action time.
It looks like 2015 might finally be the year when the food industry recognizes how important it is to increase plant intake and decrease animal intake, both for health and the environment. Even more reason to eat – gasp – more veggies and fruits.
4. Trust Those of Us in the Trenches
Teaching group fitness classes every week is not enough to qualify us to advise you about active aging. We also present and lead sessions around and about. Keeps us on our toes.
Join us in person or vicariously online as we hoof it to: Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite, then to the Lorna Jane store at the Paseo Nuevo Mall in Santa Barbara, then out of state to the first Bloggers at Midlife (BAM) conference in Nashville. Yes, you can work out in cowperson boots! The ultimate booty class!
5.Tenaya Lodge Wellness Spa Retreat Weekend
If you want to jumpstart your wellness plans, but without any jumping involved, join us at the Tenaya Lodge Wellness Retreat. Taste wine, go on a nature hike, get a mass-aaaahhhh-ge, work out with us, learn how to pair tea with dinner. If your budget allows, and you enjoy learning and doing healthy activities in a luxury environment, meet us there! Coming up soon: Jan 16-19
Regardless of your ability to attend, tell us in a comment below which of the planned activities would be your favorite. We are pretty keen on the Saturday, Jan 17 3:30 session! To see the schedule and sessions or to register, go to this spa weekend link.
6. ABC Workout, Free Food, Prizes, and Lorna Jane Activewear DISCOUNTS
For you locals (Santa Barbara), join us for FREE Sat Jan 31 at 10am for the
world, nation, state, county famous ABC: Abs, Balance, Core workout we are teaching. Sponsored by Lorna Jane Activewear, you not only get to improve your abs and show the shoppers who rules the mall, but also snacks and juicy discounts on LJ gear. Did we mention prizes as well? Gotta play to win!
What’s your favorite abs or core move? Bet we’ll show you one you’ll like more!
7. Bloggers at Midlife Conference
Then in mid-March we fly to Tennessee to present at the inaugural BAM conference. If you are a baby boomer or midlife women who blogs on any topic, this event is for you. If you are not a blogger, thank goodness! We need you as readers! So charge up your laptop or mobile phone to read about our adventures and whether we sweat during our sessions. Look for wild photos and behind-the-scenes stories from the conference.
8. Track our Knee Adventures
Starting next week, we will be busting open the inflammatory, painful, yet ultimately upbeat story of two middle-aged women who want to age actively. When their knees try to defeat them, they fight back — with traditional and new methods. Methods that you can learn about as well. This (unfortunately) universal tale of joy, frustration, pain, and odd detours offers help to any of you also suffering from knee pain. Will Kymberly be able to continue teaching her beloved step classes in 2015? Can Alexandra postpone knee surgery past 2015? And how will their experiences help you? Track with us as we enter 2015 raring to go!
Did you think you’d have to read 2,015 bullet points from us? Nahhhh. 2 + 0 + 1 + 5 = 8, so you only get 8 points from us. Happy 2015. See you at Tenaya! While reading Skinnylicious. In a box. With a fox.
Alexandra Williams, MA
If you’re over 50, this book will bring back memories of holiday food; some good, some best left in the 70s (Consommé Noël made with turkey broth, beet liquid, onion juice and sherry anyone?).
The Swedish Tea Ring is easy to make, delicious, and popular. Basically it’s a gussied-up cinnamon roll.
1 ¾ to 2 cups flour
2 ½ Tbls sugar
1 packet (¼ oz) yeast
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup milk
2 Tbls water
2 Tbls butter
1 egg at room temperature
In a mixing bowl, combine half the flour, and the sugar, yeast and salt. In a saucepan, heat the milk, water and butter to 110º, then stir into the flour mixture, beating till smooth, then beat in the egg. Gradually add the remaining flour until the dough is stiff. You can then either use a dough hook or manually knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Put it into a greased bowl, cover it and let it rise until doubled in size.
Swedish Tea Ring
2 Tbls softened butter
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsps cinnamon
½ cup broken walnuts
½ cup raisins
Roll the dough into a 7 X 15 inch rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough, then sprinkle on the sugar, cinnamon, walnuts and raisins. From the long edge, roll up tightly, then shape into a ring on a parchment covered baking sheet with the sealed edge down. Tuck one end of the ring into the other, and pinch to seal. At 1-inch intervals, cut 2/3 of the way through the ring with scissors, twisting the cut sections slightly to separate. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in size. Bake at 375º for 20-25 minutes.
If you want to frost the ring, recipe is below. Also, my boys don’t like walnuts or raisins, so sometimes I’ll make two rings and leave those ingredients out of one. It still tastes perfectly delicious, though I prefer the regular recipe.
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
¾ tsp vanilla or lemon juice
1 Tbls water
1 Tbls heavy cream (you can do 2 Tbls water if you don’t have cream)
Spread over warm (not hot) Tea Ring. You can add candied cherries (which seem to have been the rage in the 70s), but I don’t, as they all get picked off and ditched on the plate by everyone I know anyway!