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Category Archives for "I Want to Eat Better"
7

What is Your Health Worth?

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Retreat to A Week at Sky Ranch Fitness

From Spa to Shining Sea

From Spa to Shining Sea

Is a fitness spa or resort vacation in your future?

Alexandra: My physical, emotional and mental fitness is important to me. Ever since January, when I wrote about trying to lose the ten pounds  that found me, I’ve been working hard at moving differently (“more” isn’t my issue; adding interval training is) and eating smaller portions. And after comparing how many hours I worked in 2013 with how many hours I spent doing things I enjoy with friends, family, and myself, I also promised myself that I’d spend more time AWAY from the computer in 2014.

Sometimes serendipity comes along, which is how I find myself heading to a local Santa Barbara week-long fitness vacation camp with Sky Ranch Fitness.

The Serendipitous Steps to a Week at Sky Ranch Fitness

  1. Start a new radio show in 2014
  2. Interview movement expert Dr. Michael Luan on our radio show
    wine tasting at SkyRanch Fitness

    Wine Tasting

  3. Perk up ears when Dr. Michael talks about his upcoming presentations at Sky Ranch Fitness/ Bacara Resort
  4. Perk up mood when Dr. Michael introduces us to the owner of Sky Ranch Fitness
  5. Pack up when we are invited to participate in a week of Sky Ranch fitness fun As part of being participants in this luxury fitness event (yes, those two words DO go together), we have promised to help get the word out about Sky Ranch.
Bacara Resort and the beach - Santa Barbara

A few of the 354 luxury rooms at Bacara Resort

As everything the camp offers aligns with our mission and values, we are totally jiggy with that!!! Let’s lay it out for you, and you can decide whether you’d find this appealing or not. The event includes:

  •  Six nights at Bacara Resort, which sits on the beach in Santa Barbara
  • Complete fitness assessments
  • Nutrition education, including a cooking class in a local setting
  • Sunset dinner cruise along the California coast
  • Wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley (made famous in the movie “Sideways”)
  • Hikes, fitness classes and personal training
  • Massages
  • Lectures on wellness and health
  • Take-home individualized fitness and nutrition plans
  • Post-event accountability check-ins

 

Santa Ynez Valley

The location of one of the hikes

Kymberly: When interviewing Dr. Michael for our radio episode, Reframe Your Brain to Heal Chronic Pain, he had a comment that I latched onto as an insta-quote to share with you all:

“The healing whispers we hear in our mind are drowned out by the chatter in our heads and dramas of the day.”

Is that true for you? When it comes to dealing with deadline stresses, the ache of my knee arthritis, bills, my newly developed plantar fascitis, and a never-shortening “to-do” list, I don’t pay attention to the calming whispers. Worries, pains, anxieties, and the feeling of fleeting time create a cacophony that’s hard to turn off.

Even this amazing, fortuitous offer to attend the new Sky Ranch Fitness spa week started the chatter. “Will we alienate our readers by writing about attending such a high end resort or will mainstream midlifers see this as a retreat worth saving up for?” “Can I get all my work done in two days to be able to immerse myself in the experience for the week?” “Can I take advantage of the hikes the spa week offers given my teaching schedule or should I sub out another class?” “Will my foot and knee restrict me?”

And on and on and on. Chit chat fret fret worry drama. Doesn’t this sound like I need a week off? A week that offers the time and space to allow the nurturing whispers to infiltrate? As a baby boomer, I like to think I have the age and experience to make good decisions. Finding out more about a new, local business that combines two things I hold dear — wellness and Santa Barbara County — seems like an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime.

My goal while at the Sky Fitness Ranch at the Bacara Resort, which I am stating aloud AND whispering in my head is to achieve the healing strategies Dr. Michael summarized in our radio show:

  1. Smile as often as possible to reset my brain
  2. Re-evaluate my walking technique and style
  3. Find, form, and pursue my passions

My second goal is to share that experience with you in a future post, so you can achieve the same. Maybe vicariously; maybe in person one day in Santa Barbara.

hiking with Sky Ranch Fitness

Beautiful hikes every day

Photo credits: Stuart Gildred of Sky Ranch Fitness

Disclosure: We were not paid to talk about Sky Ranch, though we did receive the week-long adventure at a seriously discounted rate. Seriously!

11

3 Food Trends for 2014

Alexandra Williams, MA
pic of Expo West

Natural Products Expo West

For the fourth year in a row, Kymberly and I spent several days at the Natural Products Expo West, sampling delicious (and healthy) food and beauty products, and attending sessions so that we could share the latest news with you.

In this first part of our trend-spotting series, I’ll share three food trends.

1. Products that seemed out of the ordinary a few years ago are now getting even MORE unique – examples of this include calamansi flavored sparkling coconut water from JaxCoco, South Asian-inspired snacks from Zouq,

pic of Zouq snacks

Zouq snacks are my new go-to munchie

wheat free, gluten free, sugar free, all cheese chia seed parmesan crisps from Kitchen Table Bakers , frozen desserts sweetened with monk fruit from Arctic Zero, and even grassfed, organic, bacon cranberry bison bars from EPIC Bar.

2. Parallel, yet not diametrically opposed is the trend toward making healthy food accessible and available to all (especially families). According to Steve Sidwell, founder of Lúvo, the number of lunch eaters has dropped, while the number of snack eaters has risen. Those snacks (and all food) should be good for you, and accessible – including at work, school and airports. In other words, bring the healthy food to the people, not have the people search out the food.

pic of Steve Sidwell

I was trying to steal Steve’s Lúvo jacket.

3. Beverages that are designed to aid your body are so varied and unique, there’s no reason to ever drink a sugar-laden soda or hospital-visit-inducing energy drink. Ever. Teas with chocolate or vegetables added, sparkling, vegan, organic probiotic drinks, (my fave is the new Hibiscus Berry Daily Cleanse from KeVita, flavored kombucha that even non-kombucha people like myself enjoy (try the black currant from Clearly Kombucha), and even different types and flavors of chocolate milk and coffee. Oh, check out Teas of Texas. Not only do they have pecos cantaloupe white tea, they also do limited edition teas for college football teams. Good sense of humor. I even found a skin rejuvenation collagen drink! I thought that was called “water” back in the day. Oh, you heard it here first – Organic Valley has protein shakes coming out in June. You can’t find them yet, but let me tell you – they’re delicious. You’ll see.

pic of Texas Tea at Expo West

Check out these Flavors

Stay tuned for more trends in upcoming posts. In the meantime, let us know your guesses as to what those might be in the comments below. Oh, we also have lots of giveaways coming up too, so keep an eye on our Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, less than one week (March 19, 2014) until the re-launch of our Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers radio showon a bigger platform – Voice America, Wednesdays at 8 am PST live/ 8 pm PST rebroadcast. Up first, author, scientist and personal trainer Tamara Grand, on “Hormones and Menopause.”

We were not paid to share any of these products with you. We did receive press passes and samples at the expo. 

1

Why It’s Great to be a Boomer

Alexandra Williams, MA 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

Much is written about the joys of being young, but how much is said about the advantages of being a Boomer? I speak as an expert when I say we Boomers are in full bloom. I asked a few of my friends and age cohorts what they liked best about this age, and I certainly got a full list of advantages!!

pic of orange tulip

A Beautiful Bloom

Freedom
Confidence
Caring Less about what others think
Variety of choices and opportunities
Knowing myself well
Doing what makes me happy
Wisdom and perspective
Being comfortable in my own skin
Able to enjoy my kids as adults
Laughing really loud and not caring
Opportunity to start over
Mentoring and sharing our knowledge

I also sat down and wrote out my personal Top 10 reasons I enjoy this age:

1. I’m not waiting for my life to “begin.” I am living it.
2. When I travel I can stay in nice hotels, not youth hostels.
3. I can prepare what I like to eat instead of catering to kids’ preferences.
4. Though I want to look my best, I no longer worry if I am pretty enough.
5. I have the freedom to sing, dance and act silly without really caring what “they” will think.
6. Fashion is what I say it is.
7. All the good music is from my era.
8. I have tried and true friends who’ve been there for decades.
9. I am skilled at a number of things.
10. I have taken care of my body, and it’s reflecting that care in a positive way.

Since Silk is the company that approached me for my input about how their products (for me, it’s the Silk Vanilla Almondmilk mainly) help me to Bloom, I think I’ll elaborate on #3 and #10. A few years ago, I tried almondmilk for the first time at the Natural Products Expo. I’ve been a vegetarian since 1998, and love almonds a LOT, yet had never tried almondmilk, thinking it would be “weird” or too “hippy dippy” for me.

Turns out I was wrong. I now use Vanilla Almondmilk in my chai, smoothies, baking, oatmeal, blah-de-blah-blah (that’s more interesting than saying “etc.”). I care about the politics and origins of my food too., so Silk’s leadership in the the non-GMO initiative matters to me.

Silk believes in a plant-based diet; so do I.

I believe 100% that part of why my health is so good, my weight is stable, and my energy level is high is due to my nutrition. If you eat well, your body does well. For those of you with lactose or gluten issues, Silk milks are also free of those.

As I tell my university students, take my word for it AND try for yourself. By clicking this link you can sign up for a coupon to save on Silk’s Almondmilk, Soymilk or Coconutmilk. You might even win a free year’s supply! Actually, I’d like to win that, as I just sampled the brand new Protein + Fiber Vanilla at the Natural Products Expo this past weekend, and got super happyfied. Hey, if Nabokov could make up words, so can I.

Because I am a Boom-Chicka-Boomer, I have a 1970s trivia question for you. What do Barry While and Silk Almondmilk have in common? They are both silky smooth and oh, so good for you! Just listen to Let the Music Play and see if you don’t feel silkily seduced and stress reduced! That was actually a rhetorical question. My trivia question is this – What year was this song released? Hint: I graduated the same year from high school.

pic of menu board for White Wave at Expo West

Silk Menu Board at Expo West

Boom to the Bloom!

What do you prefer – coconut, almond, or soy milk?

9

Reaching Your Fitness Goals, or How Are Those New Year Resolutions Coming Along

Alexandra Williams, MA
dogs at the beach in Santa Barbara

Best Dog Buddies on Their Walk

We are one-sixth of the way through 2014. This is about the time when many people give up on their New Year’s resolutions to move more, eat better, lose weight – the list goes on. It’s easy to understand – the weather isn’t cooperative, you aren’t seeing improvements, there’s no time – that list goes on too!

Please don’t get discouraged. Keep at it. Being stuck or slow at achieving your goals isn’t an issue of willpower, so don’t waste time berating yourself about a perceived lack of it. It may be an issue of willingness or need for skill development, which we talk about in our 5 Steps to Create Permanent Lifestyle Change.

Ten Reasons We Don’t Achieve Our Resolution Goals

According to Psychology Today, “approximately 50% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions, most having to do with weight loss, eating healthier, improving finances, or getting a new job. But less than 10% successfully achieve their goals.” Hmmm, does that mean that the other 40% unsuccessfully achieve their goals? It would appear that ten common mistakes could be getting in the way, writes psychology professor Shawn Meghan Burn, Ph.D.

pic of Polar Loop

What?! I’m Getting Insulted by my Polar Loop?

1. Forgetting Change Is a Process and Resolutions Are Only the Beginning
2. Making General Rather Than Specific Resolutions
3. Making Unrealistic Resolutions
4. Having A Half-Assed (or No) Specific Change Plan
5. Giving Up Too Quickly
6. Failing to Overcome Or Manage Ambivalence
7. Failing to Obtain Social Support & Identify Healthy Role Models
8. Failing to Address Emotional Issues That Sabotage Success
9. Failing to Address Environmental Issues That Sabotage Success
10. Adopting Simple Solutions Peddled By Unscrupulous Salespeople

Good squat form

Full-Assed Squats

How many of these have gotten in the way of your progress? I recognize several, with #4 being my particular issue. Maybe I need to get more “full-assed,” both metaphorically and literally. Maybe I need to do those 30 squats that the Moscow subway set up in exchange for a free ticket.

The Good News

Anyhoo, let’s focus on the good news. The happy statisticians at the University of Scranton (tanget – my son had that as his 2nd choice university) discovered that “people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.” So be explicit!! Which should not be confused with illicit… or elicit. Look them up – they are definitely NOT interchangeable words.

Our dog has no qualms about reaching her exercise goals. Every afternoon she starts whining and giving me the “chin on lap sad eyes” trick that means it’s time for her walk. She doesn’t care if I had explicit or illicit goals – she just wants to move.

Now, two things occurred on Saturday that affected my specific plan to walk at least 10,000 steps every day. One – we had a major storm here in Santa Barbara, complete with flooding, one guy swept out into the ocean, property damage, and freezing, Arctic, Canadian, polar vortex, unheard of, lower than usual temperatures in the (eek) 50s. Not so motivating. Two – I received an email from FitFluential about a March challenge to run, walk or hike 100 miles this month. That works out to under 10,000 steps a day, so I should be able to run, hike or walk that easily. Game on!

pic of sea foam

Sea Foam from the Storm in Santa Barbara

Side Note

If you want to receive free info about challenges (with prizes), recipes, workouts, fun events, and motivational tips from some famous fit celebs, sign up for FitFluential. Put my or Kymberly’s name in the “How did you hear about FitFluential” section, as it leads to magic weight loss dust being sprinkled on us or something along those lines.

picture of Hendry's Beach at low tide after the storm

The Sand was Washed Away by the Storm

Back to the Dog

I called my sister, hoping she’d come walk the dogs at the beach with me so we could see what the storm hath wrought, but she was B.U.S.Y. which is really spelled L.O.S.E.R. According to #7 above, I failed to obtain social support. But wait, what is that whining I hear? The dog was volunteering to be my social support? Guilt won and we headed to the beach for what turned out to be a super amazing walk. Seaweed and sea foam everywhere. Sand and ocean detritus washed all the way up to the parking lot. New hidey holes created in the cliffs by the over-the-top high tide.

Alexandra’s Set Up For Success Tips

I have pondered what made me successful at getting my half-ass out the door, and came up with a few.

1. I have a dog. Yup, go get yourself a dog. You will walk a lot more.
2. Guilt. I knew the dog would be bummed. Yes, guilt is a success tip.
3. I really, really want to hit 10K steps every day. I’m competitive with myself.
4. I recognize that I already have good eating habits, and don’t want to eat less, so moving more is the key to shedding my last bit of holiday belly bobble. I like to move.
5. I wanted to see the beach after the storm. I cared more about that than walking.

picture of a rock exposed at low tide in Santa Barbara

Follow Your Path To Your Dreams

Find whatever success triggers work for you and incorporate them. While we’re at it, make your resolutions behavior-based, not goal-based. And you don’t need to wait for January 2015 to change your behaviors. Now is good. Want to join me in doing 100 Miles in March? That way we can all be Awesome in April!

Want great info with a touch of humor to help you reach your goals? Join us every Wednesday live at 11 EST/ 8 PST beginning March 19 on our radio show on VoiceAmericaHealth. What?! You’re all ears? Perfect.

logo for VoiceAmerica Health channel

Starting Wed. March 19. So Listen Up, Y’all!

 

 

 

 

 

Resolve to follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

 

5

5 Age-Defying Tips to “Youthen” Your Heart

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

picture of heart rate on a wrist monitor

This is the heart rate of someone who exercises!!

What better way to end February’s Heart Health month than to be your own lifelong Valentine and show love to your heart? To help you, we’re sharing some lovely heart facts to inspire you to write a sonnet improve your health.

Your heart is the fastest responding muscle in your body. When you work out cardiovascularly (heart rate increases, you breathe heavily, and your whole body is involved in the movement), the heart adapts upwards within 24 hours. Aaaaand, if you dodge exercise more than you dodge taxes, then your heart adapts down, down, down.

Do you want your midlife body to stay as vital, youthful, and cooperative as long as possible? As Dr Michael Roizen MD, co-founder of RealAge and chair of its Scientific Advisory Board puts it: “Physical activity decreases the greatest causes of arterial aging, including stress, the greatest ager of all.”  Good news: you can combine strategies to achieve the youngest, most stress proof, physiological body possible. No heart stopping shocks coming, but the secret to a Strong, Age Defying Hearty Har Har is ……….

… to exercise and eat well. Did you see that coming? But what does “eat well” for heart health mean in practical terms, especially for baby boomer women? We wondered ourselves so checked in with Registered Dietitian and celebrity, best-selling author Frances Largeman-Roth. Based on her input, we offer you the following juicy tips:

fruit for Outshine frozen fruit bar smoothie

Red and blue: Key colors of healthy circulation

Embrace the C

1. Vitamin C is a heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory nutrient that helps repair and produce body tissues. Add oranges or grapefruit to your snack routine to get your daily dose. Other vitamin C-rich foods include strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, papayas, mangoes, kiwi and bell peppers. Basically, eat fruity stuff aka “fruit.”

We’ll (Not) Drink to That!

2. Limit high-calorie, sugary drinks such as soft drinks, and sweetened iced tea and coffee drinks. Instead, drink lots of water – at least 2 liters per day. Water, water everywhere. Alcohol isn’t so great for you either. Yes, we know about the studies that tout the benefits of red wine, and Mayo Clinic simply says that it MIGHT be healthy in MODERATION. They theorize that flavonoids or resveratrol may be the beneficial substances. More to come on our radio show about those flavonoids.

Circulate and Let Your Arteries be Free!

3. Support your circulation. Add a guaranteed source of cocoa flavanols, like CocoaVia® cocoa extract supplement, to your breakfast every morning. Once we learned about flavonoids, we jumped at the chance to try cocoa extract powder supplements when we met CocoaVia at a fitness convention a few years ago, because they are …. flavanols..in cocoa form. What’s not to like about cocoa that’s clinically proven to help maintain healthy circulation?

Puffy, swollen foot

Oh, Swell! Begone Flim, Flam, Inflammation!

What if You are Super Swell?

4. Fight inflammation. Eat foods that contain high amounts of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that fights inflammation and may help reduce the risk of heart disease. You can find it in blueberries, blackberries, plums, cherries, Mission figs and eggplant. (note from Alexandra: Figs – ewwww)

Go Popeye and Olive Oil on Yourself

5. Instead of cooking spray or butter, use olive oil. Olive oil is a great heart-healthy ingredient; the Mediterranean diet has long been linked to heart health and longevity. Try drizzling extra virgin olive oil on top of pasta and using it as a salad dressing or as a substitute for butter on bread.

Frances LCocoaVia Live thw Life You Loveargeman-Roth recently partnered with CocoaVia® to help spread awareness on maintaining good heart and circulatory health, and we’ll be sharing more of her tips on air. when we interview her live. Yes, in the world of Yawn, Who Cares Exciting News, we proudly announce our own partnership with CocoaVia® for our revamped, bigger (cue the cannons and confetti) radio show on VoiceAmerica that begins March 19, where we and our guests will share weekly amazing info about active, healthy aging. For more information visit www.cocoavia.com/. Then do 10 push-ups.

11

How Duff Goldman, Pompeian Oil and I Teamed Up To Donate $5000 to the Foodbank

Alexandra Williams, MA
Tweet from Duff Goldman re: Bake4Better contest

The tweet Duff Wrote Just for Me!

The Santa Barbara Foodbank is $5000 richer, thanks to a contest I won that was sponsored by Pompeian Oil, and judged by celebrity chef Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes fame.

I’m not a professional baker, and definitely not a pro photographer, so how did I beat out everyone else for the chance to donate $5000 to the foodbank of my choice?

1. I followed the rules. Really, that counts. I saw some of the other entries, and they didn’t follow the rules (Create and post an original photograph that features the Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray bottle using the #Bake4Better hashtag and tagging @Pompeian). There were other criteria, such as ownership of the photo, using other brands in the photo, inappropriate themes, and so on, but nothing difficult.

2. We were judged in three categories: Originality/Creativity, Use of the Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray in the photograph, and Quality of photograph. I am pretty certain I won based on the first two. What do you think – creative or no?

Alexandra's entry to the Pompeian Contest

The Winning Entry

3. Fewer than 50 people entered. I know. Sad, isn’t it? So few entries for such an amazing prize. And of those 50,  take a look and you’ll see how few actually had the oil in the picture (one of the rules).

Enough about me; let’s talk about the foodbank. I happen to be in Santa Barbara, which is one of the loveliest towns in the U.S. (and most expensive, I think). This means a lot of people might assume we are all rich. Hahahahahahahahahah. Okay, let me stop laughing while I go weep over my property tax bill. I actually think S.B. is like many towns in that hunger is invisible to many.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, food is a basic necessity; without it we cannot grow and develop. This is both metaphorical and literal, especially for children. I think we adults have a moral obligation to ensure that all children get a fair crack at growing and developing.

Purpose of Foodbanks

The mission of the Santa Barbara Foodbank is “to provide nourishment to those in need by acquiring and distributing safe nutritious foods via local agencies and providing education to solve hunger and nutrition problems in Santa Barbara County.” This is probably similar to the mission statement of your local foodbank.

picture of Santa Barbara Foodbank workers

Fresh Food for the Foodbank
Photo credit: S.B. Foodbank

When I saw the contest, I thought, “I probably won’t win because I’m not a good photographer, but I might as well try because I might get lucky.” Not only did I get lucky, it turns out the $5000 has some excellent math behind it. According to the letter I received from the foodbank’s development coordinator, “Every dollar we receive is leveraged into $17 worth of nutritious food to build strong, healthy kids and families in our community. So the $5,000 that Hunter Publication (Pompeian Oil) awarded the Foodbank translates into $85,000 worth of food. Just incredible!”

And incredible is how I feel. If I had donated from my own money, it would have been about $20. For spending about 20 minutes of my time taking pictures, making the collage, and submitting my entry, I got $85,000 worth of “good feeling.”

Giving Improves Your Health

The point of my tale? To encourage you to enter these types of contests. Whether you’re a blogger, baker, Instagrammer, photographer, or even Google+ lover, give it a go. Even if you don’t win, you’ll feel good inside. Altruism has so many benefits, with research indicating that for the donor, “giving help was more significantly associated with better mental health than was receiving help.”

As a friend of mine from church loves to say, “Give till it helps.”

Want to give us some love? Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

 

16

Healthy Smoothie Recipe using Frozen Fruit Bars

Alexandra Williams, MA

This is a sponsored post for Socialstars by Crowdtap showcasing my super-delicious smoothie using Outshine frozen fruit bars. All opinions, sips, and resultant good health are mine!

ingredients for Outshine Frozen fruit bar smoothie

These yummy ingredients are calling to you. “Blend me. No, blend me.”

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the lookout for new, tasty and healthful ingredients to add to my morning smoothies, especially now that I’m trying to lose a mean ol’ menopausal ten pound weight gain. Grrr.

When I was invited to create a recipe using either the strawberry or coconut Outshine frozen fruit bars, I hesitated for ooooh, 3 seconds before raising my hand to volunteer a strawberry smoothie recipe. I even spent lots of time learning how to take and send photos using my new tablet so that I’d have pretty pictures to share.

The recipe is pretty complex simple, so you might have to spend a few years at a cooking school seconds staring into your fridge before attempting to create what I’ve dubbed the “Red, White & Bluethie.” Feel free to print out scribble on a post-it note the recipe.

 

 

Red, White & Blue Smoothie Bluethie

fruit for Outshine frozen fruit bar smoothie

“If fruit be the food of love, play on.” – William Shakespeare (sort of)

Strawberry Outshine frozen fruit bar

You can shine both out and in!

One fruit bar (be smart; remove the stick)
1/2 cup Blueberries
1/2 cup Strawberries
2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp Flax
1/2 cup Almond milk
Squeeze of lime

You will now be amazed bored by my mad cooking skills as I describe the mixing instructions:

Put ingredients into blender or juicer. Push Blend (my blender actually says, “Smoothie”). Pour. Drink. Gain Super Powers and Strength (maybe not the latter).

Outshine frozen fruit bar finished smoothie

Drink this smoothie and you’ll be transported to York, England. Or not.

You don’t need ice cubes, as you have the frozen fruit bar. Every morning I bring my smoothie and hot chai into the car with me, as I drink them on the way to teaching. When my older son drives with me, he likes to hold the cold smoothie for me on the hot days. On the cold days, he holds my chai. And no matter whether it’s hot or cold, he hates to hold my bagel.

Bonus: If you usually use ice cubes, you need a special blender. I know this because I broke the blender blade. Now I have a magical blender with an ice-crushing blade. With the fruit bars, you do not have to think about these important, yet destructive, details.

P.S. Drinking the Red, White and Bluethie will make you more patriotic, happy, healthy, full of Outshiny goodness.

Be extra smooth and follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly; on Twitter – AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit; and Instagram – KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

 

12

Should You Burn Your Bread (not Your Bra) to Lose Belly Fat?

Alexandra Williams, MA
Homemade Sourdough Cheesy Bread

Homemade Sourdough Cheesy Bread

Today a friend asked me how I am able to bake and eat bread so often, yet stay trim, when there are studies showing that menopausal women increase their “central body fatness and insulin resistance” (as the research authors so eloquently put it!!) unless they decrease their carbohydrate intake (bread is mainly carbs).

As this is the time of year when many women in my cohort (that’s just a fancy word for “age posse”) are making frustrating resolutions about weight loss, I thought I’d answer that question for all of you too!

Carbs and Belly Fat

The answer is simple; it’s the same answer I learned in grad school for counseling. The answer is “It Depends.” I’ll lay out some info and you can decide for yourself. Keep in mind that everyone’s different. I’m a physiologically identical twin, yet we are different sizes with different eating habits, and no definitive research saying our differences are carb-related!! If my sis gave up carbs, she might lose deep abdominal fat, while I might stay the same and cry about being separated from my beloved bread. It just depends…

Abdominal Fat is Frustrating for Menopausal Women

Abdominal Fat is Frustrating for Menopausal Women

Here’s what we currently know:

* Menopause coincides with an increase in several comorbidities including cardiovascular disease
* Central body fatness and insulin resistance are components of a cluster of metabolic abnormalities which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease
* Studies suggest that the menopause transition is associated with an increase in abdominal and visceral adipose tissue accumulation
* The effects of menopause on insulin resistance appear to be moderate, if any, although available studies are insufficient to draw firm conclusions
Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9847982

* A modest reduction in consumption of carbohydrate foods may promote loss of deep belly fat, even with little or no change in weight
* Losing belly fat can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease
* Subjects in a 2011 study who consumed a moderately carb-restricted diet (43% percent calories from carbohydrates, 39% from fat, 18 from protein), had 11 percent less deep abdominal fat than those study participants who ate a standard diet (55% from carbs, 27% from fat, 18% from protein)
Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110606092532.htm

Cut The Carbs…Or Not

Should you base your decision on just a few studies? Probably not, though you would be wise to see if further research gets to a tipping point as more studies are done. But if you’re the kind of person who can wait 25 minutes for bread to bake, but not a year or two for more studies, become your own experiment. Try eating a moderately carb-restricted diet for a few weeks, using the percentages listed above. Or, if you don’t want to spend lots of time doing food math, pull all starchy carbohydrates from your diet, then reintroduce them one at a time. This includes breads, pastas, rice, grains, oatmeal, potatoes, legumes (beans) and squash. If a reintroduced food gives you cravings, bloating, digestive discomfort or mood swings, it might be time to say bye-bye to to it.

I'll Swing from a Tree for Monkey Bread

I’ll Swing from a Tree for Monkey Bread

To go back to the original question, I don’t know how I’m able to bake and eat bread so often, yet stay trim. Maybe my intra-abdominal fat never read the studies. Maybe my body doesn’t know that I’m in the menopause years. Maybe all my exercise counteracts the “food belly bloat.” Maybe my fondness for organic food and ingredients over processed or packaged foods helps. Maybe it’s because I only eat a few bites of the things I bake. If I were to guess, I’d go with the organic food and ingredients answer. But a guess isn’t science.

One day I’ll have to do the food removal/ reintroduction test on myself. Until then, I guess my answer is “It Depends.”

If you want further info about bread and wheat, read our post “Is Wheat Free Better for You?”. You probably know the answer.

For further tips on making nutrition changes to your diet, read “Hormones and Weight Gain: Why Nutrition Matters” by our friend Tamara Grand, a personal trainer and scientist.

While your bread’s in the oven, run to your computer and follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. 

Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

17

What Can You Do to Be Happy This Year? Besides Eating Tuna

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Resolve to Be Actively Happy

Enjoying quote of the day at Rancho la Puerta

Happy Is as Happy Thinks, Drinks, and Does

Did you set New Year’s Resolutions? Some years I do; some I don’t. Which got me to pondering why we consider changes and fresh starts each new year. “To become a better person” seems the obvious answer. But to what end?

What lies behind the desire to “improve,” “remake,” or “change” ourselves? Ultimately isn’t it a pursuit of happiness? “If only this or that changed, then I would be happy,” is the implication. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. At least for 2014.

2014 issue of Outside Magazine

Get Out?! Be Happy!

Meantime, both neuroscience and Outside magazine had the good timing to release a list of strategies that enhance happiness. Wouldn’t you know it, but the keys to being happy involve exercise, healthy eating habits, and playing (mostly outdoors).

If you are looking to add more happiness to 2014 then try adopting some of the the following habits. I listed the happy habits that I either liked the best, saw as easiest to implement, or validated my current values. To see the complete, original article read the January 2014 issue of Outside magazine.

Wake Early

Alarms set on iPhone

1) Cranky hour 2) Sleepy hour 3) Just right for “early.”

I was a little surprised that early risers are happier people until I thought of the days that my get up and go got up but good! I always feel better when I get a jump on the day. Sure, we need to get in our 7-8 hours of snoozing per night. But we also need our Vitamin D. So the more time awake during sunlight hours, the better our immune system. It’s hard to be happy when ill; it’s easier to greet the day with a high five when we’ve gotten a good night’s sleep followed by an early rise. This habit is one I am working towards. Pretty sure this is really a sneaky way for me to have to set another resolution — get to bed earlier than midnight so I can wake refreshed at 6:30 or 7:00am, not the 7:30 that feels so luxurious.

Drink Water

If you read my post, A Tale of Caffeine and Dehydration, then you already know being dehydrated makes us — ok, ME — irritable. One supposition is that our neurons detect dehydration and warn the parts of the brain that affect our mood. Not enough water? The neurons hit the “bad mood” button. You’ll know if you’ve drunk enough water to improve your mood if your pee is clear or pale yellow. Wheeeeee Peeeeeee!

Exercise With a Group

Bouldering at Lizard's Mouth

I’ll be happy when I get down safely and into my step class!

Imagine how happy I felt reading this as a group fitness instructor for the past 33 years. Want to work harder while feeling happier? Being part of a team or group increases your intensity and endorphin levels more than when you train alone. Could this be the year you try group exercise classes or continue through the year? I have space in my classes for you! Perhaps a master’s level team sport is in your near future.

Exercise Consistently

Cardio workouts are brain boosters; exercise in general reduces stress; even a few months of activity can reverse age-related memory impairment. Now that you are so smart, remember that regular, ongoing exercise rewires your brain for the better. Low stress, younger brain, and a good memory? That spells “H-A-P-P-Y better than a crossword puzzle clue if you ask me.

Eat Chocolate

Eat chocolate

Science from CocoaVia tells me cocoa flavanols help me live well!

Who cares the reasons?!*  The fact that cocoa flavanols are good for us (in moderate doses) is just plain old good news. Enough said.

* For those of you who want the reasons, hold on a minute while I lick the dark chocolate from my typing fingers. Basically, chocolate (specifically the flavanols) releases endorphins and calms us. Yes, it’s all in the mind. And mouth.

 Eat Mood Enhancing Foods

Dark green veggies, turkey, salmon, tuna, sunflower seeds, walnuts, black beans, — these and other foods high in tryptophan or glutamine positively affect your neurotransmitters. Get naturally high without medication! How many of you noticed that eating happy foods causes the opposite of being dehydrated?

Listen to Music

Photo bombing or singing at Glen Ivy Spa
Singing in My Pain, Just Singing in My Pain. Alexandra is Happy
Doing a Selfie Again

Who wants to hear me sing? Debatable whether this will enhance your mood. Hmmm. Or you can hear Alexandra tra la la in many of our past radio episodes. Also debatable about the effect. We can say that if you listen to music you like, you will pump out dopamine (happy hormones) faster than Ahhhnold Schwarzenegger pumped it up back in the day. Tunes you enjoy give you an emotional rush. I now await a music company sponsor for this tip.

Choose the Right Biological Parents

Yes, it’s true and I’d be amiss not to confirm that genetics plays a role in your disposition. If born rich, I’d be happy! Oh, wait. That’s not really what we’re talking about here. Inherited tendencies determine about one third of our happiness level. So quit griping if your mom and dad were negative Norman and Nellie. You have two thirds of the story to write yourself. Especially if you follow the tips above!

I know I’ll sure be happier if you:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

 

16

Naughty or Nice?: A Tale of Caffeine and Dehydration

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Skeleton from Rancho la Puerta

Dehydration Takes a Heavy Toll

Have liquids ever been your downfall? Specifically, NON-alcoholic ones. The other day I was ultra-cranky, especially at my daughter and husband. Of course it was all their fault. Or the stress of the holidays. Except the holiday season doesn’t really stress me out. The bad error my husband had made was bringing in wood to build a fire for Christmas Eve. My daughter had the nerve to ask me to stay up late to scratch her back (she just graduated from college and had flown home a few nights prior).

photo 3

My husband after I bit his head off. And torso. Yes, I was that cranky.

Feeling Irritable?

Snip, snap, I bit their heads off! Someone just earned a spot on the Naughty list and it wasn’t either of them. Normally I am cheerful and fairly even tempered (hush up Alexandra!) and consider it a Christmas gift to send my daughter to sleep by scratching her back and petting her hair. And I appreciate my husband tackling chores to make us more comfy in our new house.

So what was going on that sent me over the edge? Blaming menopause seemed like a convenient idea, but I knew it was not accurate. Fortunately I had enough self-awareness to realize something was unusual beyond fatigue. Have you ever been uncharacteristically moody without knowing quite why?

Caffeine Messes with Your Mind and Mood

Turns out I had entered a liquidy perfect storm. Caffeine was largely to blame. However I don’t drink coffee or sodas, so the caffeine answer was not obvious at first. But many of you might be coffee drinkers. Or soft drink imbibers. In fact, if you drink more than 3-4 cups a day or are particularly sensitive to caffeine then you may also turn into a Grinch.

Here’s the gig: Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, with one of its effects being to increase irritability. Other effects (courtesy of the Mayo Clinic) include:

  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Stomach upset
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors

Who Loves Thai Iced Tea? Look Out!

Me in attack mode
The Thai Tea Effect on Me

Did you know all that? I had not really paid attention to caffeine’s downsides as I rarely intake any. But I had developed a new habit, now broken. Since visiting Thailand in March with my mom and sister, I had come home with a new appreciation for Thai Iced Teas. (Read about our leech hike escapades in Thailand, how we sweat a lot in Thailand, and tips on what to pack when it’s 100 degrees out). At $3.50 to $4.00 per drink at the local Thai Donut and Bagel store (doesn’t everyone have a place like this nearby?), I had limited my indulgence to once a week. Until……. I discovered last week that the local Japanese specialty item shop sold Thai tea mix bags, ready to brew! Whoo hoo! Guess what? A $5.00 bag with the artificial yellowy-orange coloring already in it yields cup after delicious cup. For pennies per swig! Just boil water, add sugar and milk, and string me up like Christmas lights!

You see where this warning about caffeine is going. I went from one expensive cup per week of black tea cleverly disguised at Thai Iced Tea to three frugal and full cups in one day. The day I gave the gift of instant snapback to my family. But like George Clooney in Perfect Storm, I was headed into more troubled waters. Or lack of, as it turns out. Because now this liquid tale gets updated news relevant to all of us, whether we exercise or not; whether we take in caffeine or not.

Wat-er The Heck is Going On?

ALERT! Dehydration makes people IRRITABLE! CRANKY! WITCH ON WATERWHEELS! (women more than men, wouldn’t you know it).

Even mild dehydration can change your mood, ability to think straight, and energy level, according to two studies just conducted at the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory. Sure, we all know that too little water can cause headaches, fatigue, and yellow pee. But the bad mood angle is kinda new. Or at least it was to me.

water bottle and sky

Water Up!

Normally I have one water bottle in my car, one in my gym bag, another in the refrigerator, and one in the freezer. But the past few days, my schedule has been almost as out of whack as my mood, what with my daughter coming home, my husband on teaching break, and my sister out of town. I was running late wherever I went so kept neglecting to grab water.

Drink this: Get on the Nice List

Drink this: Be on the Nice List

We lose about a liter per day of water just through normal respiration. Add in walking dogs, teaching step class, sweating a lot, and installing flooring (just as a random example), and the need to replenish water becomes more critical. Yes, I had just ordered a double expressed dose of “frothy a lotte” at the mouth — too much caffeine and too little water.

You can avoid taking my journey and stay on the “Nice” list. If you find the holiday season challenges your normally calm, loving, low-stress mood, then keep caffeine down and water up! Say good-bye to unusually high levels of cranky-puss and drink a lot this season. Watery, decaf drinks. Take it from me, Or else!

Get on the Nice List all year when you:

Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

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Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

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