This post is sponsored by Silk Soymilk because they also believe in healthy living, so they teamed up with us for these ten steps to sustainable change.Alexandra Williams, MA
It turns out that it’s easy enough to be at 1 (I’d like to lose 50 pounds) and want to be at 10 (I lost 50 pounds), yet it’s extremely challenging to get from 1 to 10 because you don’t have all the steps mapped out. You know where you are and where you want to be, but don’t know how to get there.
When I’ve wanted to make lifestyle changes, both big and small, I make a 1-10 numbered list. One is where I am now; ten is what it will look like. My list is the steps I’ll take to get to my goal. The trick is to choose simple, specific, sustainable steps that will lead to success. It’s all about the letter S!
A typical example: I want to lead a healthier lifestyle. Rather vague, which makes it hard to know if/ when you’re successful. A better starting point might be: I want to eat more vegetables, cut back on junk food, and lose 20 pounds in 3 months. From there you plug in small changes that you will actually do. Instead of thinking in grand scale (though I wouldn’t mind living in grand scale in Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed), think of the least you can do. Multiple easy choices go further than grand, sweeping plans that come to nought. Unless you’re the broom in Beauty and the Beast.
1. Add 1,000 steps a day to my movement
2. Before I eat something that I think may not get me to my goal, I’ll go write it down. Sometimes seeing “four scoops of potato salad” written down helps me decide to just take 2 scoops, or none at all.
3. Throw away all food that will sabotage my goal somewhere where it’s not retrievable
4. Shop at a farmer’s market or co-op (any place where healthy food dominates the choices)
5. Add another 1,000 steps a day to my movement
6. With the 2,000 steps now added to my day, I’ll now run or walk very quickly for at least 500 of those. It can be in increments.
7. Serve dinner on smaller than standard plates, then put all the extra food into the fridge so it’s not just sitting out where I’ll be tempted to mindlessly eat seconds.
8. Do 5 push-ups, from knees or toes, and 10 squats
9. Get a cookbook or download healthy recipes that have a calorie count that fits my goals
10. Reward my achievements by writing down the extra energy I have, or getting a massage, or calling a supportive friend. Any reward that is positive (not junk food) and acknowledges the hard work.
You’ve probably figured out that thousands of options exist that would fit into the ten steps. And of course, making a change is really way more than 10 steps, though picking 10 specific steps will get you moving forward. The sample plan above has nothing earth-shattering or magical, which is good. It means you don’t need to wait for the earth to move or a magic wand. You just need to make small decisions repeatedly until they become a habit and you realize three months have passed, and you are now eating more healthfully and have dropped the 20 pounds.
While you’re off hunting for your old Bo Derek posters, you might also wish to learn about the 4 Stages to Healthier Habits. It has tips to help you with all the cognitive stuff that occurs when you’re trying to change.
Since Silk Soymilk was generous enough to sponsor this post, I’ll tell you a quick story about one of my steps to becoming a vegetarian. I knew I needed to get enough protein, so I bought both almond and soymilk. At first sip I wasn’t quite ready to drink them straight, but I knew I wanted them in my diet so I started adding soymilk to my fruit smoothies in place of juice. That worked. Bye bye overly sweetened juices; hello increased protein. And the picture here is my “I’m writing a post” beverage: half Silk, half vanilla decaf. Both of these healthy “hacks” work for my goals of getting in enough protein and enjoying my food. I’m still working on getting the cats to prefer it to their occasional bit of cream!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.
A fairly free-flowing session at which attendees took turns at the mic asking questions and sharing information. One woman said she used to have a blog focused on health and fitness, but she had shut it down due to lack of readership. The next two women up to the mic commented about their need to lose weight. Major disconnect!
You put on headphones, looked at the magic one-way mirror, and listened while the mirror told you all the reasons you are fantastic. As a person who doesn’t lack for confidence, I started dancing and telling the mirror all the reasons why I was fantastic. The mirror told me I was the first person to come up and share why I was enough (and awesome) as opposed to listening and/or crying. Upon reflection, it was rather sad to learn that I was the first (out of thousands) to say I was enough. Women, are we that hard on ourselves?
The link between self-confidence and weight/ health is so strong that I am going to say something that is (for me) provocative. Take ownership. Do something about it. Complaining doesn’t count. Wishing doesn’t count. If you don’t have a medical issue that prevents you from moving your body (plus eating and sleeping right), then go move your body. Instead of saying, “I need to lose weight” or “I wish I could be more active,” say instead, “I choose not to,” because that’s what is really going on.
Of course, it’s all about small steps, as we’ve been saying for years right here on this very blog. And of course, progress is not in a straight line. And of course, we understand, as we are Boomers with stoopidhead metabolisms that changed 15 years ago too. But feeling good about yourself is in your control (again, I am not talking about those with medical issues). If you cannot march up to that magic mirror and tell it who’s boss, do something about it. This is a picture I took of my kind of celebrity – Roni Noone, founder of Fitbloggin, She has taken many steps – forward, backward, sideways – to get where she is, which is confident. Read this post by her about feeling more attractive and confident.
All the time, and especially at conferences with lots of women, I’m complimented on my energy level. I get my energy from exercising. I’m complimented on my good looks. I’m actually average looking, but I smile. That makes me look good. My smile is merely the outward reflection of my happiness with the efforts I make every day to make choices that get me to my goals. I’m complimented on how young I act and look. Am I special? Actually, yes. But so are you. As David McCullough told the graduating seniors at Wellesley High a few years back, “The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.” Too many of us believe the first sentence, yet remove ourselves from the second.
This is the part where I link to two well-written conference opinion pieces by women I like who just happen to have fun blackmail pics of me. Some of my so-called youthful appearance is due to my hair stylist, and some is due to oily teenage skin, but the rest is due to my rejection of our culture’s “rules” for Boomer women. I enjoy my life. I like people. I am a person. So I like me. And I definitely want you to like you. All of you, not just parts.
So if you eat crap and don’t want to, don’t. If you are overweight and unhealthy and think you should exercise, do it. It’s not about willpower; it’s about choices. Small ones throughout the day that add up. What choices are you going to make that will allow you to march right up to that magic mirror and say, “I’m more than enough; I am awesome?”
A little plug for the AARP Care4YouToo contest – For free, you can join the fitness contest (with prizes) that is now in week 3 of 6. Each week can be stand-alone, so you are not behind if you join now. Get suggestions and support as you make the incremental steps I mentioned above.
This guest post comes from Taylor Leandro, our dedicated and hardworking intern. Originally from Fremont, California, Taylor is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara studying Communication and Psychology. She is interested in education, health, and counseling. When she’s not at school or studying, she likes to swim, as she was a competitive swimmer for over 8 years. Keep Taylor in mind if you are looking to hire a quality future employee!
Taylor: As I approach my fourth year at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), I find the topic of “life after college” consuming my mind more and more. Three years ago my main concern was not gaining the dreadful “freshman 15.” Now I am focused on obtaining a full-time job. I am beginning to wonder how I am going to find time to stay fit as I start to work exhausting, 8-hour shifts that leave me with little to no energy to exercise or eat healthy.
After the day to day demands of full time, working, adult existence, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of nutrition and health. I currently lead an active college lifestyle that includes riding my bike to and from school, walking around town as opposed to driving, walking or running to the beach, and even exercising at my school’s gym. What am I going to do once my stress levels increase and my activity decreases (or once I don’t have a free membership to a campus gym)?
Taylor’s mom: First, understand the correlation between stress and weight gain.
If less time is going to be spent on exercising, then more time needs to be focused on eating healthy. Prepare meals for work instead of going through the fast food drive thru for that 800 calorie double cheeseburger with extra cheese and bacon (or shall I say, heart attack).
This can be as simple as taking the flight of stairs instead of the elevator or wearing weights around the house.
(Note from Kymberly and Alexandra: we suggest you put such weights in a backpack so that the weight is evenly distributed. We do not recommend ankle or wrist weights as they tend to stress joints).
A friend or workout partner can keep you motivated on those days off when you just want to sit around and do nothing. You’re less likely to bail on them than you are to bail on yourself.
Make exercise part of your daily routine so it becomes a habit. For example, exercise for 30 minutes after work every day. Once you are in the groove of staying active, you will feel good and won’t berate yourself on those occasional days you skip a workout.
This can help to decrease stress levels when adult life becomes too hectic. Even just 10 minutes a day to clear the mind and lower cortisol levels helps with overall well-being.
Readers: What exercise advice would you give your child, grown or not. What advice would you give your younger self about working out and getting fit?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Therefore this weekend finds us presenting at the Wine Bloggers Conference. And just to show how much we know about wine as it relates to exercise, we created this handy dandy infographic for you to pin, read, share, and toast!
Wine is not the only thing that gets better with age. You can too when you :
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
3) Add to our list in the comments below. What else do wine and exercise have in common?
The following post is a partnership between me and Walgreens. They are offering free health screenings, plus a way to track your activity levels, so I am all in favor of you reading about it!Alexandra Williams, MA
I totally admit to being a health screenings geek. I love knowing my body’s stats, plus I wear a fitness tracker so I can know even more numbers. Being goal-oriented, I want to be a winner with my own body! Note the part where the word “free” snuck in there? Sa-weeeeet! (that is not the way to drink southern tea; that is my excitement at getting a free screening).
Life got even better when Walgreens asked me to help them get out the word about a few things – all FREE!!!! You can:
Along with the AARP and the National Urban League, Walgreens is traveling around the U.S. providing “free tests, assessments, education and consulting services to communities with the highest uninsured and unemployed populations.” I live closest to Los Angeles, which has four dates – July 10, 19, 20 and 21 – but the screening bus will be stopping in many states, so look up the closest stop to you via their locator.
I am working on getting points for all the steps I do. The average U.S. inhabitant does 2,000 – 4,000 steps per day. The goal is to get to 7,000. To stave off weight gain, most of us should all be doing at least 10,000 (only 8,000 if you’re over 65) Amish men do 18,000 steps per day, with a 0% obesity rate (go dudes with beards), and Amish women have a 4% obesity rate and do 14,000 steps per day.
The Balance Rewards program gives points for doing what you do every day – moving. Just by logging in my steps for the past week, I’m already up to 920 points, which can be traded for things I need to buy. The FitBit is a popular device that syncs up with the Rewards program. I have a Polar Loop, which doesn’t sync, so I manually enter my daily steps. I’d prefer the syncing, but I can pull the info off my Loop or from the synced app that came with my Loop and heart rate monitor, and just transfer the info.
Local Savannah trainer Drew Edmonds was joined by three panelists who answered questions about using fitness trackers to reach your goals, be it weight loss, better sleep, more movement, calories expended, heart rate, and all kinds of other info depending on the device. Research is starting to come in showing that people who use fitness tracking devices tend to do more to accomplish their goals than when they do not wear them.
During the conference, I signed up and got my free assessments, all of which took less than 20 minutes. Did I mention the Way to Well Health Tour bus was air conditioned? Inside the bus I had a quick finger stick to collect some blood. It was NOT a needle draw, so you can do it! Then a pharmacist met with me to explain my results, which you can see just below. Since scales cannot tell if your weight is from muscle or fat (I prefer to go by how my clothes fit), I am not a huge fan, so I’ve left that part crossed off. The important thing is what the blood reveals about me, including how that plays in to my weight.
As you can see, my total cholesterol is a bit high, so I will do a full blood panel (the needle kind) at my next check-up to separate out my low from high cholesterol to discern if there’s an issue or if this was a one-time result.
The good news is that all my other results were fantastic! When the pharmacist told me that my body thinks I’m 43, I was overjoyed. My vanity was even more excited. Who wouldn’t want to be 12 years younger? I tell you, exercising, eating right and sleeping (marginally) well is truly the Fountain of Youth.
I totally encourage you to see if the Way to Well Tour bus is coming near you. Even if it’s not, why not do the Balance Rewards program and get free stuff? Oh yeah, did I mention I also got a free year added to my AARP membership just for doing the screenings? If you’re too young for AARP, they let you give it to an older family member.
P.S. I’m a sucker for John Corbett (think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Northern Exposure”), who voices the “At the corner of Happy & Healthy” commercials for Walgreens, so I was kind of hoping he’d personally deliver the happy, healthy good news about my test results. Oh, well. At least I can say he lives just over the mountain pass from my home in Southern California.
Alexandra: The answer is always yes. It’s also “It depends.”
In the group thread of a Facebook community I belong to, I read lots of good advice for this frustrated woman, with people recommending various diets and types of workouts. Yet if we back away from the question, and ponder the underlying assumption, it’s possible she doesn’t need to make any big changes. If she wants to KEEP the weight off once it’s lost, she might just be right on track with her 1 to 1 1/2 pound weekly loss. I’ll make a leap of faith and assume keeping the weight off after her weight loss program is over is her longer-term goal. Which means losing 1 to 1.5 pounds per week might be best.
Before we get to how to hypercharge your metabolism, we want to mention TransformAging, the webinar summit that guides you to be more fit, energetic, attractive, and mentally and physically stronger. TransformAging will reinvigorate your body, mindset, and life when you implement its easy steps. Top fitness experts who specialize in making the second half of life rewarding and achievable gathered together for this six-video series. Get your own set of the entire TransformAging Summit recordings and access proven, evidence-based secrets you can put into action today. Click any link in this paragraph to find out more about this cutting edge series and how you can own it immediately.
A few years ago my sister and I were asked whether it is safely possible to lose 10 pounds in 4 weeks, and we essentially said it’s reasonable, sustainable and realistic long-term to lose 1.5 – 2 pounds per week if you combine
Of course, that is hard for menopausal women, and our fitness pro colleague Tamara Grand has some spot-on suggestions and resources for staying the nutrition and fitness course once midlife changes everything!
In this post we wrote about the differences between losing weight and maintaining weight loss, you can see in the chart that to LOSE weight, reduced caloric intake is the easiest way for most people to achieve negative energy balance, while to KEEP it off, physical activity is the strategy to prevent weight regain.
Kymberly: When you are done reading this post, check out how you can choose the “right” diet. You will find it far easier to cut out a 500-calorie drink than to exercise strenuously for about an hour. Ouch, it hurt to say that as a fitness pro who prefers moving more to eating less, but there you have it!
Alexandra: So our advice to you (and the millions of other women with this same question) is to perhaps focus more on your intake than your output. Once you reach your weight goal, you can switch that around (to a point – the fluffy, puffy, whipped creamy coffee drinks are still an issue).
Kymberly: Brooke, you asked about supercharging your metabolism. In general it usually helps to incorporate strength training 2 -3 times a week into your workout program. Perhaps you are already doing that, given the exercise activity you mention. But if could be that your metabolism is “stuck.” How can you get it unstuck? Read this: If My Metabolism is Stuck, What Do I Do?
Alexandra: While we’re at it, I’ll throw in my occasional mantra, “Never give up. Never surrender.” It’s from a movie that cracks me up.
A bonus item for you:
As part of a campaign with Blue Diamond I did a twist on the traditional Dolly Bar recipe that incorporates their Toasted Coconut Almonds. Easy recipe. Quick to make. Delicious to eat.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
That’s 28 days of focusing on your food and exercise. Getting proper sleep helps too. You can actually lose 14 pounds a year just by adding one hour of sleep each night.
The start date was just two days ago (May 27), and the pot is already up to $675, with 27 players putting $25 each into the game pot.
We’ve had a number of people ask us if it’s too late to join, hence this oh-so-loverly video saying, “Yes, you can still join.” [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q671QIDeH-U[/youtube] Okay, it’s actually Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady,” but it IS loverly! You don’t get an extra two days at the end (the final weigh-in is June 24 & 25), but you can do it! Speaking of weighing in, you do NOT have to publicly share your weight. Actually, you don’t have to privately share it in the group either. One “referee” at DietBet headquarters verifies your initial and final weigh in photos to keep us all honest.
For all the details, and to sign up, follow, follow, follow the DietBet road to become Good, Better, Best Bod Yet!!
If you wish to donate to the funds set up for the victims of the UCSB/ Isla Vista murders, go to this post.
And if you wish to hire us to speak about fitness, health and saving money through fitness, contact us at email@example.com. Our operators are standing by (that’s us, and it means our cell phones are in our pockets).
First of all, I was just going to make chicken marinated in the sauce, but I accidentally defrosted chicken lunchmeat instead of chicken breasts, so I just defrosted bratwurst and figured it would work to wrap the chicken around the bratwurst! That’s my full disclosure on the way I create the cooking magic here at the Alexandra House of Cooking Infamy. I’m actually a vegetarian, so can be excused (somewhat) for my chicken confusion, right?!
In any case, the recipe is below, and was pronounced a delicious success by the meat-eaters in my family. So it shall be repeated for the weekend. It’s a versatile recipe, eh!! (I’m channeling my inner Canadian for no apparent reason there).
8 slices chicken lunchmeat
4 large bratwurst
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey peanut butter
1/2 tsp curry paste (red or green)
2 minced or crushed garlic cloves
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
zest and juice of small lime (or 1/2 of regular)
Whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Put the bratwurst into the bowl and fully cover it with the sauce. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes. While it’s marinating, preheat the oven to 350. Put the bratwurst into a baking dish (or on a parchment covered baking sheet) and wrap the chicken slices around the bratwurst. Pour remaining sauce over the meat and bake for 45-60 minutes.
I baked it in a covered dish, so if you bake it in an uncovered dish or on a baking sheet, the cooking time might be somewhat less. And in case you’re wondering what I ate, I had the borscht, made from beets I grew in my garden.
This is not a sponsored post, but Peanut Butter & Co. did send me two jars of Bee’s Knees. They also will send two jars to a U.S. resident who gets randomly selected in our giveaway.
With DietBetter we don’t tell you HOW to lose the weight, though Kymberly and I do have advice about the best diet for weight loss, the most effective way to get started , and the best weight loss methods according to research (hint: the answer is “it depends”).
What we like about DietBetter is that you choose the weight loss method that’s right for you, while they set the parameters to keep it healthy and safe. For example, if you weigh 170 pounds, four percent of that is 6.8 pounds, which means losing 1.7 pounds a week. Totally realistic, as we show in our post “Lose 10 pounds in 4 weeks.” Math + hard work = weight loss success + financial gain.[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/79208152[/vimeo]
1. Join up today and put $25 in the pot. You can join up after the game starts, but you are best off to join up in advance.
2. In the 48 hours before the start date of May 27 you post a starting weight photo that is verified by the DietBetter team (they send you a word to use, plus photo requirements).
3. Your weight is NEVER shared unless you decide to do so.
4. You can check in on the site as often as you like to share successes, frustrations, ideas, encouraging words, or even to ask us for advice.
5. Within 48 hours of the end date of June 28, you post your final weight. If you are a winner, you need to post a verification photo. If you did NOT achieve your 4% goal, you don’t need to post a picture.
6. Winners get their share of the pot via PayPal.
That’s it. I’ll be doing this too, as I still want to lose that last bit of the 10 pounds I gained back in December when I complained about being overweight and over the hill. Trying to lose weight on my own has gone okay, but not great. I am still not where I was six months ago, even with all my exercise and healthy eating. I’m motivated by money because I want to get my $25 investment back!! I also want to make money, though secretly I hope everyone is a winner. Oh, that’s another great thing about DietBetter – if everyone wins, they don’t even keep their cut. They believe so strongly in positive reinforcement that if we all win by losing, we all get back our full $25.
So, are you in? Click on this link to join. Four weeks. Four percent.
photo credit: lady on scale – Clarita
We love it when we can share good news with you – If you have watched any of our videos about improving your posture, you know we are fans of good posture. In celebration of National Correct Posture Month, our friends at BackJoy are rewarding those who commit to improving their posture by awarding the first 500 people who participate in the #PosturePledge celebration with a FREE SitSmart Posture Plus ($40.00 retail value), You’ll also be automatically entered to win a fabulous grand prize. All you have to do is choose one of the ten simple actions listed on BackJoy’s Posture Pledge Facebook page.
It’s a good bet to subscribe to our blog and listen to our radio show. Experience some of the best leaders in the health, wellness, and fitness world every Wednesday morning at 8:00 PT/ 11:00am ET. Listen in (better yet, call in to 866-472-5792) to our new radio show Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers with guests who offer practical advice and cutting edge solutions to your active aging challenges. You’ll find us at voiceamerica.com on the Health and Wellness channel.
After I gave my response, I walked back into the gym and taught two more classes – one Drums Alive ; one strength training on the ball. Once I was done teaching, I started thinking further about her energy question. Although it was really probably a compliment with no answer expected, I did ponder it as a sort of research question. You know, in an anecdotal sense, as I haven’t done any research on myself (trying two cigarettes in 7th grade sort of counts as self-research I guess. I smoked the wrong end, as we were hiding in a dark basement, so couldn’t see. Turned it around, inhaled deeply, almost died from coughing. End of smoking career).
First, the answers I rejected as to the genesis of my energy:
Want to know what I told her? Three words: Exercise, Nutrition, and WillingnessExercise makes you tired, not energized is short-term thinking. You can reduce fatigue &… Click To Tweet
Most non-exercisers will think, “Hey, wait just a sec. Exercise makes you tired, not energized. W.R.O.N.G. That is short-term thinking. In the long run (and 57 is the long run, I assure you), the cardiovascular system becomes more efficient when it is challenged with exercise. I’ve been teaching for 35 years, plus I danced and played soccer before that. So even when I had anemia in my 20s, I still had lots of energy. This post we wrote with 7 of the top reasons people exercise will enlighten you. And this other post with the other top 7 reasons will make you smile. Or so we hope.
It’s probably an unfair match-up between my eating habits and my university students’ because they are part of a demographic famous for eating (to say it delicately) crap. I require them to eat a healthy breakfast, yet I don’t actually monitor their personal lives, nor am I all that sure that their definition of “healthy” matches mine. However, I do
nag give them friendly advice about what constitutes a suitable breakfast prior to working out. In our radio interview with personal trainer, author, and biologist Tamara Grand, PhD you can hear her excellent advice about clean eating for women over 45 (though her advice works for all ages). I have taken her “tough love” advice about no longer being able to eat as I did in my younger years (due in part to estrogen and other hormones).
What the heck does this have to do with energy, and what do I mean by willingness? I really just mean attitude and being willing to do what it takes to be healthy and fit. I am not a of fan of the word “willpower” when it comes to moving and eating for health because it’s too easy to feel it’s a battle, and I don’t want to fight with myself. Trying to think succinctly, I’d say that I am pretty good at “If / Then” decisions. For example, I walk a lot. And when I walk I don’t actually like to sweat. But I think, “If I walk up the mountain road for an hour, then I’ll have done my 10,000 steps (my daily goal) for the day.” Or “If I choose not to eat cookies or ice cream when I crave an evening snack, then I’ll be that much closer to my weight goal.” I think of the choices, then make conscious decisions. I essentially have a bargain with myself. Luckily, most of my bargains lead to a happy, energetic resolution!Willingness, not willpower will help you gain more energy, especially women over 50 and post… Click To Tweet
I’m tempted to say, “Suck it, youngsters,” but I like my youngsters, and was once one myself. So I think I’ll just say, “Try to keep up. Maybe by the time you’re 50 plus, you’ll have lots of energy too!”
For those of you above 50 (or know someone who is), do you have more energy now than you did then?
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Alexandra Williams, MA