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6

Healthy Habits: Small Changes Lead to Big Changes

A recurring theme in our business of fitness and active aging is how to get from A to B – where you are now and where you want to be. Whether it’s weight loss, better nutrition, more energy, injury prevention, disease reduction or any of the many other reasons people have, the secret to success lies in using your mind to make small changes that add up and lead to the desired big changes as you create new, healthy habits.

Walk on beach, KymberlyInstead of speaking generally, I’ll give a specific case example. I have a 65-year-old friend, Barbara*. She has diabetes, insomnia, low arm muscle tone (related to a shoulder injury & surgery), is overweight by about 20 pounds, and has forward head thrust. Oh, she also complains of snoring, but wants to avoid wearing a CPAP machine to bed (recommended by her doctors after a sleep study for the insomnia). Her eating habits consist mostly of fast food and restaurant food.

For two months, she has talked about the things she “should” do, yet not much has changed. When she started talking to me, I listened for any recent relevant successes. As it turned out, she had lost about 35 pounds over the past few years. With a background in fitness, food and counseling, you’d think I could just say, “do X, Y, and Z and you’ll be fine.” Well, I COULD say that, but would she listen? Would you?

Keeping in mind she’s my friend, NOT my client, I’m somewhat limited, yet she truly is motivated. So I think like a pro and friend, by staying as non-judgmental as possible (that’s diplomatic talk for me trying to keep my mouth shut regarding unsolicited advice).

When trying to lead a healthier life, small changes are best because... Click To Tweet

Do’s:
Focus on one issue at a time
Put related issues together
Mention possible small changes
Create an environment that leads to success
Go small
Pat, Slap, Pat (totally non-counselorish phrase for Compliment, Correct, Compliment)
Find opportunities to celebrate small successes
Lay out a clear picture of what success looks like – can’t reach a goal if you don’t know what it is

Dont’s:
Try to solve all the issues at once
Nag
Be a saboteur
Expect the person to do what YOU would do

to do listI realized fairly quickly that Barbara’s main focus is the insomnia and snoring, even more than getting off the diabetes medicine. Me, I’d want to be off the daily shots for the diabetes, but that’s ME, not her. She doesn’t like being reminded about pulling her head back, so the forward head thrust is out of the equation for now. She also has shown little inclination to work out, so the arm strength is also set aside. The good news for her is that the cure for the insomnia and snoring is going to help her diabetes and weight too.

These are a few of the changes that she’s made:

She said she wanted to walk her dog, yet that wasn’t happening. Instead of nagging her to walk the dog, I asked what it was she didn’t like about walking the dog. She said it was boring to walk the same neighborhood day after day. Solution: We meet at different places in town and walk the dog. Side benefit: She is discovering places in town that she had never visited, and her dog barks less at night because he’s sleeping better too.

Kila and Liberty on rockShe said she wanted to eat better by eating fewer meals (skipping breakfast, to be specific). Research doesn’t back up this plan, but I know very few people who change their habits when they read research, so instead I went shopping with her and helped her pick out foods she would actually eat. Solution: She found cereals she liked and has taught herself to read labels to watch for the sugar content (for the diabetes). Side benefit: She is no longer driving through fast food places mid-morning to satiate her hunger, so the type and amount of calories she’s eating have changed for the better.

She knows that exercise leads to weight loss, which leads to a decrease in snoring and helps her sleep better, yet she wasn’t doing any exercise. She’s a social person, so I invite her to join me on dog walks and other walking opportunities. For example, she’s so used to driving everywhere, that’s it’s a habit for her to jump into her car for even a short distance. We were headed somewhere that’s about a quarter mile from my house, so I suggested we walk. Solution: She’s starting to look at walking as a way to get from place to place, rather than as forced exercise. By simply “interrupting” her unconscious habit of jumping into the car, she now sees walking as an alternative mode of transport. Side benefit: She has noticed the correlation between the exercise and how she sleeps, and has come to realize that it’s actually cause and effect.

She is a kindhearted person who likes to be a good friend. We were going out to restaurants far more than is my usual style, and I found I was eating more than I normally would. When I expressed concern about this, she wanted to be helpful to me. She isn’t a doggie bag person; her mindset is more toward “clean your plate.” Thinking of “Pat, Slap, Pat,” I said, “I love going out to eat and trying new foods. This lifestyle won’t work for me in the long run, as I’m sitting too long and eating too much” (way better than saying, “You eat out way too often,” which sounds judgy). “Could we swing by the ready-made section of the grocery store and pick up some lunch there instead?” If I had suggested cooking at home, she would not have been successful at reducing her restaurant visits, since she doesn’t cook. Solution: She is looking more to the grocery store as a place for portion control and choice. Side benefit: She now has more time for those dog walks, as she’s spending less time sitting in a restaurant.

nutrition at IDEA WorldI gave her a card for her wallet that lists her goals, but that was a total bust, as she never looks at it. And I discovered that chocolate shakes are non-negotiable for her, so I stopped rolling my eyes. She has a sweet tooth, so I have to work WITH, not AGAINST it. How? I offer fruit in vanilla yogurt to her, which sometimes (not always) satisfies her sugar craving. And isn’t fruit two times out of ten better than candy bars ten out of ten? Maybe she’ll get to five times fruit and five times chocolate bars. But that might be enough to beat the diabetes.

Oh, I got her hooked on Bolthouse Vanilla Chai instead of the caffeinated energy drinks and sodas she was drinking. THAT is a big success.

What is the one small thing you can do? Write it in the comments below so we can steal your ideas.

Alexandra Williams, MA

One very small thing you can do is subscribe to our twice-weekly posts, just by entering your email right over there ——->

Photo credit for “To Do” –  Courtney Dirks

12

Dealing with Stress, Weight Gain, and Hormones

Are You Dealing with Stress? Who Isn’t?

Stress, Floating Anxiety, and a Thailand Beast at White Temple, Dealing with stress

Stressed out and feeling beastly?

Stress affects all species. Most humans have a good idea of their stress levels and whether the stress is helpful (such as exercise) or harmful (such as an injury). As well, we clever midlife ladies can distinguish between Chronic and Acute Stress. Interesting to note is that we tend to handle major stressors better than micro ones.

Stress and Weight Gain are Connected

When it comes to weight gain and fat accumulation, chronic stress is the problem. In short, chronic stress triggers a cascade of hormonal reactions that tell your body to store fat, create more fat, and swell up. Yes, long term stress increases both number and size of fat cells. As fat cells increase in size, they increase chronic inflammation, which triggers more hormonal reactions, all leading to more fat. Aaaaarrrggggh!

Which contributes more to weight gain: Chronic or Acute Stress? Click if you're dealing w/ stress Click To Tweet

Getting caught in this cycle can be very … well, um … stressful! Take a relaxing breath as we look at ways to decrease fat that stress may have added to your “friend’s” figure. Yes, get ready for some key insights on dealing with stress and fat collecting — the collection we don’t want to inherit, pay too much for, nor store for posterity (in posteriors). Also, take advantage of other quick posts offering ways for you to reduce stress and possibly halt related weight gain.

Ease Out of Stress

5 Ways Yoga Reduces Stress for Women Over 50: Guest Post from Randi Ragan

Also click on these links to get more strategies to improve your bliss and train your hormones to obey you.

Hormone Hell to Hormone Heal: Guest post from Debra Atkinson

Decrease Stress Now

Bad News about Fat Cells plus Some Fat Facts:

  • More women than men are obese because of menopause (not really bad news for men).
  • We now know our bodies can make more fat cells at any age. We used to think we added fat cells only at certain times in life, such as gestation and puberty.
  • Fat cells can swell up to three to six times their minimum size. Oh, swell! Those cells are unwell!
  • “Normal” weight adults have about 40 billion fat cells; overweight people may have as many as 80 billion. Yes, DOUBLE! The odds are really stacked against the stressed out.
Does stress add fat cells to midlife bodies? Yes or No. Click if you're dealing w/stress &… Click To Tweet

Good News and Fit Facts:

  • Relaxing in the Sleeping Buddha position

    Exercise Your Right to Relax and Destress

    We really don’t gain a lot of weight over the holidays. The average is about one pound … per holiday season, so pack light for your next vacation. And don’t worry!

  • Two super duper interventions that really work to unpack fat are exercise and destressing. No kidding, Sherlock. (Yes, I heard you thinking that all the way from here.) What we need to do is shift our thinking from all or nothing strategies to ones that are more realistic and flexible.
Destressing with Alexandra in Thailand Dealing with Stress

Aaaaahhh, Bliss Out, Le Freak, C’est Chic

The plan? First, implement the 4 F words of Weight Management and Lower Stress Levels*

*adapted from work by Dr. Len Kravitz, presented at the DEA World Convention

  1. Have a Flexible approach when creating your workout program. For instance, maybe morning routines don’t work for you, though you’ve heard that early bird exercisers tend to be more consistent. Or your favorite cardio machine is taken. Try a different piece of cardio equipment or an aerobic class. Look for what fits YOU. Today. With each day up for a renewable contract.
  2. Remind yourself that you are not a Failure if you lapse.
  3. Forgive yourself for any unmet goals or expectations.
  4. Fix what’s not working — without blame or self criticism.

According to Dr. Kravitz, “Learning to lose weight is a skill, just like learning to ride a bike.” He recommends that we use the same strategies as proven, successful weight losers. Referring to the work of Dr. James Hill, who founded the National Weight Loss Registry, Dr. Kravitz highlights the actions in common of those who lose fat (and keep it off):

Successful Fat Losers:

Sleep Helps Reduce Stress

Dog Days of Slumber

  • Stay or become physically active
  • Log 250-300 minutes per week of aerobic activity
  • Limit and monitor dietary intake
  • Accept realistic weight goals
  • Eat a healthy breakfast
  • Schedule meals and exercise thereby staying consistent with both
  • Limit fast food
  • Eat some favorite foods without guilt
  • Accept their body shape
  • Confront problems rather than eat to cope
  • Recognize that weight control is ongoing

Got all that? You now have THE ULTIMATE list of what it takes to lose fat. So relax. And exercise. Then relax some more.

Call to hire Kymberly and Alexandra with this telephone

Call us. We’re dialed in.

Do you or your colleagues need professional, motivating speakers to edu-tain audiences at your next event? Call us at (805) 404-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

A good laugh also reduces stress. So check out this interview of Kymberly from BiteSizeWellness. Spread the Wellness with us!

 

12

Walk to Lose Weight, Gain Fitness and Happiness

Kymberly at Lake Los Carneros walking Walk to lose weightFree and Easy (and I’m not Describing My Sister)

Looking for an easy, no cost, comfortable way to add more activity into your day? Walk — outdoors, at a local mall, indoors on cardio equipment, down the hall from your office — anywhere you can get in some steps. Why? Many baby boomers walk to lose weight. Yet other compelling reasons beckon us to a walking workout. In fact, walking is the number one preferred form of physical activity among adults of all ages.

Why Walk?

It’s easy to get started. No special skills or equipment are required, though we do suggest good walking shoes, especially for women over 50. Anyone else notice more feet issues with each passing mile? Also, walking can stave off many diseases, especially depression just by strolling or striding out.  You can be social (walking with friends or family) or contemplative (when walking alone). The risk of injury is low low low so go go go. We also mentioned “FREE,” right?

What is the #1 preferred physical activity of US adults? Click To Tweet

Benefits of Walking

Walking as exercise, power walking, dog walking, even moseying can all help you to:

  • live longer
  • have a healthier heart
  • lose weight
  • uplift your mood
  • enhance your mental acuity
  • enjoy more time with friends, pets, family (not necessarily in that order. But could be….)
Can you name at least 4 benefits of walking? Take 10k steps and get back to us! Click To Tweet

Walking for Weight Loss

The rumors are true that you can lose weight with a consistent, well planned walking program. Take a look at our post “Can Walking Really Get You Fit?” which answers the question “how can you lose weight by walking?” You’ll get super clear specifics that will help you determine your pace and duration depending on your goals.

Can Walking Really Get You to Your (Fit) Destination?

Also watch our short video on ways to amp up your walking. You’ll get some surprising tips, progression methods, and pretty scenery (plus a peek at the world’s cutest dog EVER in the universe for all entirety. Feel free to totally agree or leave a comment below).

Become an even MORE proficient walker when you consider these 7 Steps to Walk Better. Read this companion piece if you want to discover more about yourself.

Great Gait! Seven Steps to Walk Better

What if  you don’t walk to lose weight? What if you simply want to age actively, move comfortably, travel and explore the world by improving your walking abilities? Perfect!

Age Actively via Walking

Did you know that people who enjoy life have faster walking speeds than their more pessimistic counterparts? Or that walking can be as effective as running? Good thing, as my knees put a moratorium on me running, but I walk every day. (Thanks to my motivators, Kila and Sydney. Barkalicious).

A Walk is as Good as a Run

 

 

For a few motivating Fun Fit Facts about walking, take a look at our post Sneak in Stats When Walking Briskly for Calorie Burn.

If all this walking for exercise gets you sore, find out how to minimize muscle aches in our post on preventing calf soreness after walking, especially uphill.

How Do I Prevent Calf Soreness After Walking Hills?

walk for weight loss Alexandra PrecorIf you are wondering about the best and most effective technique for getting started on cardio equipment, take a look at our post and video on the Right and Wrong Ways to Work Out on Treadmills and Stairclimbers.

Kymberly walks tall at Rancho la Puerta

Can you spot my pedometer? Closer, closer.

Lastly, are you among the many who consider strapping on light wrist or ankle weights when you head out for a power walk? Then FOR SURE find out about the pros and cons here: Use Weights While Walking: Yes or No?

Small steps lead to big changes! Even a 5 minute walk triggers a bunch of benefits. That’s partly why we’ve written so many posts on this subject. So open up your front door and get your groove on as you move on!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

ACTION: Walk the Talk by subscribing to our blog and accessing your bonus “5 Fitness Myths that Weaken Your Abs.” Click this link to see what’s on the other side that will help you be more confident, capable, and comfortable in your midlife body.

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7

Are You Safe Exercising in the Heat? Stay Hydrated, but How?

Kymberly's water bottle Stay hydratedStay Hydrated When You Exercise in Heat

Are midlife exercisers safe to exercise in the heat? Is it enough to simply stay hydrated? What are the dangers (and solutions) for active boomers who face high temperatures and humidity? Are you thinking yet of the Poindexter song, “Hot, Hot, Hot?”

Summer is here. We can all go outside and run (or walk, in our case). In the heat. And possibly where the humidity is high enough to make your body look like it’s crying. But wait, we’re not saying avoid outdoor exercise. Say nay to that. We want to encourage you to go outside and be active. Of course we always support going inside to group fitness classes, especially when the room has AC! But stay hydrated.

Are midlife exercisers safe to exercise in the heat? Click To Tweet
Mud Run water duct with Alexandra

Take your water bottle everywhere. Over hill, under dale, through sewer drains

Often we’ll put sunblock on, then a hat and head outside (Head. Hat. Get it?), but leave behind a water bottle because we won’t be gone long, or it’s a hassle to carry, or or or.  Be well-prepared especially if you aren’t well-hydrated. We won’t lecture you (but we’d like to) if you don’t take along your water bottle, but we WILL share some definitions and information. Then you can know when you’re in harm’s way or safe to beat the heat. 

Euhydration – normal hydration. Your body is taking in the same amount of fluid as it’s expending. In a hot environment, that’s about 3500 milliliters (compared to 2500 on a normal day).

Hypohydration – a reduction of body water as the body progresses from a euhydrated to a dehydrated state.

Dehydration – when water losses due to sweat are not offset by water intake. Read Water: Chilled, Stirred or Straight from the Pool Post-Exercise? if you wonder whether to drink cold or tepid water:

Hyponatremia – abnormally low plasma sodium concentrations. When more fluids are consumed than are lost, excess water accumulates relative to sodium. Danger, danger.

When exercising in heat, is it better to drink a lot at once, or go w/ lots of sips spread over… Click To Tweet

Exertional Heat Exhaustion – the body’s heat production exceeds its ability to dissipate heat, and core temperature rises to >104°. Symptoms can include excessive sweating, nausea, dizziness, and headache.

Exertional Heatstroke – more severe than heat exhaustion. In addition to the above symptoms, heatstroke sufferers can also experience a gradual impairment of consciousness, difficulty concentrating, sweat-soaked, pale skin (these symptoms are different from classic heatstroke), and even death.

Hiking makes you sweaty so stay hydrated

Sweaty shirt competition. We both win.

Hot Tips to Stay Cool

* Rather than taking sips of water over the course of your outdoor exercise, drink a larger volume all at once. You’ll stay in euhydration longer.

* If you exercise longer than 90 minutes, rehydrate with water that has electrolytes added (primarily sodium and potassium, though some sodium is reabsorbed by the sweat glands – the body sure is amazing, eh)?

* Drink water before, during AND after exercise – yes, all three.

* Before you go out, eat a small salted snack such as pretzels. As “opposite day” as that sounds, a salted snack will stimulate thirst, plus the sodium helps you retain waterWater - stay hydrated.

As to whether it’s better to drink cold or room temperature water, the research clearly indicates that … it doesn’t really matter. The temperature that’s most effective is … the one that will induce you to drink more water.

If you find water boring, that’s no excuse to go buy sugar-laden drinks or skip the water bottle. Simple throw in a sprig of mint or rosemary, or a wedge or orange, lemon or lime, and off you go. Up hill. Down dale.

ACTION: Drink up biweekly solutions for aging actively and exercising effectively and safely when you SUBSCRIBE.  Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes floating about.

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

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

10

Knee Problems: How Do I Protect My Knees?

Dear K and A: Are there knee exercises to reduce knee problems? How do I protect my knees when participating in aerobics classes or walking down stairs? I want to stay active as I go through midlife yet even have knee pain when walking. Midlife Mindy, Santa Barbara, CA

have knee problems or knee pain? Alexandra: Hi Mindy. The best protection is to take them off and put them in a gym bag while doing those intense activities. If your knees are still in their original packaging, this might be a challenge, so you should just give them a light buff and wax. That will protect them for sure, although Fun and Fit do not offer the extended warranty. And you are on your own if your knees get any scratches. Would you like me to go into detail about strengthening up and stretching the muscles that support your slacker knees, including the much-forgotten VMO? No, that is not an insurance plan, that is the Vastus Medialis Obliquus, and yes, it is spelled like that.

Famous Movie Parts for Moving Parts

Do you recall the character played by Michael Palin in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” – and his friend Biggus Dickus? That, too, is spelled correctly, but is an entirely different issue. No body part with Latin in its description (that would apply to er, um, well, all of them) should have to live in pain. It’s all about balance.

Knee Strengthening Exercises Need to Include GLUTES

Kymberly: Well, Mindy since you are asking a serious question, you deserve a serious answer. And, well…, how shall I put this. Fun and Fit is known for going on larks. But for YOU, we’ll pretend for a minute to be on point. Strengthen your quads. Perhaps even more important, strengthen and activate your glutes! Do the same for your inner thighs and hamstrings so you stay balanced muscularly. Strengthen your anterior tibialis (shins) while you’re at it. Why not since we’re on a workout roll?! Keep your knees tracking in line with your upper leg and lower leg, No turning your feet one way when your knees are pointing in another. And no turning your knees one way when your pelvic structure dictates something different. Got a compass so you can keep up with me and your top dog, top of the org chart pelvic structure?

Have knee pain? Been told to strengthen your quads? Surprise! Another muscle group may be more… Click To Tweet

The evidence that having activated, strong, balanced glutes to help with knee pain is growing.  Some medical professionals now advise that the gluteals play a bigger role than the quadriceps in affecting knee problems.

Knee Pain Program

Knee Strengthening Exercises and Movement Tips

When doing choreography that locomotes you forward or going down stairs, try to keep your knee above or behind your toes. Beware of all that forward and downward motion pushing your knees too far in front of your body and past the vertical plane of your feet. Otherwise you are putting a lot of pressure on the poor little kneecaps. Translation = knee pain.  Also take a look at the exercises and solutions shown in the program “Fix My Knee Pain,” created by a colleague and qualified fitness pro we know and trust.  For instance, did you know that tucking your feet under your seat when sitting (say, at a computer reading a great post like this one!) actually stresses your knee joints? Instead, extend your legs in front of you under your desk.  This post gives you more ideas on how to address knee problems: Solving Knee Pain: What Is and Isn’t Working

Alexandra: Why don’t you just hire a proxy to do your cardio and stair activities? Save your knees for parties (the tried and true “barf in a plant” maneuver) and asking forgiveness.

Got knee problems? Strengthen the glutes. quads, and your expression!

How are those knees holding up? Ouch! Activate your glutes, quads, and strong facial expressions.

Knights Who Say “Knee”

Kymberly: You know, I have to agree with Alexandra. All this serious advice leaves me out of humor. Where are Monty Python, Michael Palin and Biggus Dickus when I “kneed” them?  Pfft, well in their absence, console yourself with other posts we have provided to knee pain sufferers:

Can’t Run or Jump?

Knee Pain: Just Say No … Didn’t Work

Got Bad Knees? Step Lively Once Again

Do your knees ever hurt after exercise? What activities have you altered because of knee pain? Do you know any fun Latin phrases?
ACTION: Take a look at this program, Fix My Knee Pain if you are truly motivated to reduce knee problems and move pain-free. Yes, this is an affiliate link, which we chose because we know the trainer, trust him, and have used his program ourselves. This program has LOADS of exercises you can start doing at home, now.
INACTION: What happens if you don’t take our professional, perfeshunul advice and push too hard despite pain? In this post about knee surgery, read what Alexandra’s poor, long-suffering knee had to undergo last week after years of action and bone on bone.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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9

Overcoming Obstacles: Time for Knee Replacement Surgery

When I was approached by Socialstars about working on a sponsored post with Advil on the topic of overcoming obstacles and pain, I immediately signed on, knowing the reconstructive knee surgery I’d had in 1998 (thanks to a soccer game) had finally failed, and that it was time for knee replacement surgery.

In the 18 years since my original surgery, I’ve continued to teach group fitness classes, go on long (and short) hikes, and generally stick with my fairly active lifestyle, even with follow-up surgeries over the years.
one-legged plank on the StepHowever, the reconstruction that was supposed to last ten years (it’s been 18) has finally failed and I will have gone in for replacement surgery by the time you read this. I should probably even be back home recuperating at this very moment.

I remember my recuperation from ‘98, which is another way of saying “physical therapy.” I had a lot of PT, and it hurt. Sometimes the therapy exercises hurt so much that tears would spontaneously “spring” from my eyes. I wasn’t sad; it was involuntary. I know many people don’t do all of their at-home PT because it hurts, which makes total sense. Who wants to self-inflict pain? However, it’s my knee, and no-one else’s, and I want it back in working order as quickly as possible.

advil for headaches

Look ma, no headaches. My mind is completely in balance as I visualize my new knee.

I know what I’m headed for as I teach my body to accept its bionic new joint. It’s going to hurt a lot. That’s just the way it is. But only in the short run. Then I’ll be done with recurring pain, arthritis, stiffness, and compensatory issues in my left IT band. I’ll be done with limping and having a permanently bent knee. Maybe I’ll even be able to kneel on my right knee again too, instead of shifting all my weight to the left.

After my reconstruction surgery in 1998, I stayed with my sister for a week or two. I diligently did my therapy exercises and tried to participate in day-to-day stuff as well. Heck, she even rented a wheelchair and took me along with her on a 5K walk to raise money to help find a cure for MS. Ask her to tell the story of trying to tip me over into the sidewalk plants along Santa Barbara’s State Street. “Accidentally.”

Years later, she had to have some knee surgery and therapy too. After hers, she told me that she had thought I was overdramatizing the amount of knee pain I was in during the time I recuperated at her house, but after having her own surgery realized I was seriously downplaying how much it hurt. Glad she didn’t share her opinion at the the time or I might have clocked her with my crutch.

Running on the Lancaster Mennonite High Regupol track
With this surgery being even more extensive than the original one, I already know it will hurt to get back to normal. But if I let that deter me, I won’t get to my goal – teaching a full load of classes in the Fall quarter, rejoining my dance team, and walking the dog.

I’m not one to reach for meds (over-the-counter or prescription) as a first resort, but I’ve also learned that they exist for a reason. I know that I’ll have to use the pain meds the surgeon prescribes, at least for a few days. I also know I’ll cut the dosage in half because I don’t like what they do to my mind and stomach. Last time I tried to “go it alone,” and had more pain and inflammation than necessary. I guess the obstacle I needed to overcome was my own stubbornness.

Besides determination, what else you can do to overcome pain and obstacles? #ad @AdvilRelief Click To Tweet

Just as I worked hard to complete a half-marathon after one of my lesser knee surgeries, and stay fit after toe surgery (also thanks to soccer, which I still love, but no longer play), I’ll work hard this summer too. It’s MY knee. It’s MY life. And it’s MY responsibility to treat my body (and new knee) with respect. Over the summer, and once I’m back to teaching, I’ll use Advil for the muscle soreness that’s going to be part of adjusting to my new, bionic (I wish) knee. I used it to relieve the arthritic pain from it being bone-on-bone, so I already know it will help. And the active ingredient is ibuprofen, which doesn’t bother my stomach.

Dog walk at More Mesa

My sis will be walking my dog for me until I’m back in walking action.

So no travel posts for a while (no driving for this girl till August), and no self-pity (I might change my mind on that). Mostly I’m looking forward to being active again, but without the issues my poor ol’ bone-on-bone knee had. And you know what hurt the most? Sitting in place for too long. Yup, moving was more comfortable than sitting. Which is exactly as it should be.

Here’s to me and my knee!

June is National Headache month, and Advil would like to know how you deal with headaches. So would we.

Alexandra Williams, MA

photo credits: Alexandra

5

Can Boomer Women Be Sexy?

Back in the olden days (the late 70s), I thought my parents were really old when they got into their early fifties. Sadly, I subscribed to the idea that everyone over 30 was just….. so…… old….
How could anyone that old have even a soupçon of sex appeal?

La Boheme dance group at Solstice partyNow I laugh at my arrogant youthful self. Hahahaha. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

The tides have turned, and nowadays I see all kinds of things on social media that celebrate Boomer women. Of course, brands are still focused on pitching “age defying” skin products to us, supplements to “keep us young,” and independent living products. Guess what?! We don’t see ourselves as old and infirm or in need of “fixing.” We just want the same things we wanted at 30, but with wisdom attached.

dancing at Casa MagazineFor example, in my twenties I loved to go disco dancing. I still love it. The difference is that it’s no longer easy to find a venue that offers it. And I don’t have a wrap skirt. Back then my younger sister and I would parade back and forth to the ladies’ room a lot, as an excuse to check out the guys let the guys check us out. If I made more than one trip to the bathroom at a public place now, people might think I have bladder issues, but I still like to check out the handsome guys. Just not the ones in their twenties.

There isn’t an age or specific date when we lose our desire to look attractive and feel sexy. Or if there is, no-one told me. And I don’t want them to. One of the many benefits to being older is that I don’t really care what other people think of me. I care what I think of me. I earned my confidence and right to be seen.La Boheme dancers performing at Soho

After a fairly rough 2015, I decided to join the La Boheme dance troupe here in Santa Barbara. I am not a professional dancer. I am a person who likes to dance. It’s stress-reducing. It helps keep my brain sharp. It’s a chance to make new friends. Most importantly, it’s fun. We wear some wild costumes. By “wild” I mean “super sexy.” Not once have I heard anyone suggest we are too old to wear these costumes. But I have heard people saying how happy they are to see women older than 20 doing dance performances in town. And we get a lot of compliments about great we look. Not “for our age,” just great. Period. As you look at these pictures, are you surprised that most of the women in them are in their 40s and 50s? One is even in her 60s. Just sayin’.
pink birthday party with La Boheme
So if you are a Boomer women who wonders if you’ve got “it,” wonder no more. All you need is a smile, attitude, and confidence. Be flirty. Dance in public. Say thank you to compliments without adding caveats that negate that compliment. And if you don’t think you can do that, act as if you can. Fake it till you make it. You’ll see.

La Boheme dancers in the 2015 Solstice ParadeAnd if you’re in the Santa Barbara area, join the La Boheme dancers. We are going to be in the annual Solstice Parade. The theme is “Legends.” Practices start April 12th. Come to a meet and greet to learn more at Brasil Arts Cafe on State Street at 7PM.

As to me, I’ll be over here disco dancing. Bee Gees and Boomer Hotties Rule Forever.

by Alexandra Williams, MA

Photo credits: Ross Barrett, Gilbert Cruz and me.

 

2

Omron Healthcare Project Zero Blood Pressure Monitors

We recently got an email touting the upcoming arrival of the Omron Healthcare Project Zero wrist blood pressure monitor, and upper arm blood pressure monitor. Perfect timing, since February is National Heart Month.

Omron wristBefore deciding whether or not to partner with Omron Healthcare, I hopped on a phone call with Jeff Ray, their executive director of business and technology. Both Kymberly and I wear fitness trackers, plus we like to know our BP readings, so the monitors looked to be interesting for you and us.

Let me describe the two monitors, then share the answers Jeff gave to a few questions I asked.

Wrist – Somewhat bigger than a fitness tracker, it looks like a giant watch. You can wear it all day or just for taking your BP reading; whichever you prefer. Me, I’d probably wear it all day in order to take advantage of the fitness tracking aspects. You set it, wait for it to inflate, then Boom, you have the info right at your fingertips (or wrist, as the case may be). No wires, no cuff. You can even send the info to your physician via the OMRON Connect App. It can also remind you to take any necessary medications, and track your compliance.

Upper Arm – Free of tubes and wires, this monitor can track hypertension levels and and detect irregular heartbeats. It also syncs to your smartphone or tablet with the OMRON Connect App. Instead of having the fitness tracker add-ons, the upper arm monitor can precisely measure more data points.

Omron upper arm monitorEspecially as we age, Kymberly and I like knowing our stats. Since we’re healthy and fit, we don’t go to the doctor’s very often, so having an easy-to-use monitor at home would be a good way to get information more than once or twice a year.

On your behalf, I asked questions that I thought you would have. Let us know in the comments what other questions you’d ask.

Where and when can I get one? – They’ll be available in most drugstores nationwide in late 2016.
What will it cost? – Under $200
How accurate is the wrist monitor, compared to the standard medical upper arm one at the doctor’s office? – There is no difference in accuracy. As a matter of fact, the designers at Omron tried to make the wrist monitor smaller so that it would be closer in size to a standard fitness tracker, but the accuracy was compromised, so they have kept it slightly bigger to retain its accuracy. The one caveat – you must hold your wrist up near your heart.
How often do you have to recharge the battery? – Every two weeks, give or take, depending on the number of hours you wear it, and how often you download the stats. The two week estimate is based on a 2-per-day BP reading.
Are these monitors only for people who are required to check their BP? – Anyone can buy one. (I was curious, because I’d love to have the wrist monitor, but I have no medical issues. My purpose would be to track my stats as part of my plan to PREVENT medical issues)
I was pretty excited, as the wrist monitor in particular seems to be at the crossroads between medicine (both monitors ARE medical devices) and fitness trackers; tertiary care meets preventive care.

This video that Verge did gives even more information.

Bet you didn’t know that one-third of (U.S.) Americans have high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease. As someone who has gone through the trauma of a loved one having two strokes and two TIAs, I can say with 100% conviction that these portable, super cool, app-connected, easy-to-use monitors can help prevent that from happening to you. And if you want to know how to improve your heart’s health, read our recent post, “Healthy Heart: Improve Your Circulation and Flexibility.”

When the monitors DO come out later this year, I’ll be one of the first people in line to try out the wrist monitor. Physical activity, sleep data and accurate BP readings – I’m into knowing those.
Of course, you’ll still have to get a mneumonic device to help you remember the difference between systolic and diastolic. Or is that just me?

Alexandra Williams, MA

This post is sponsored by Omron Healthcare, as part of their #HeartHealthMonth outreach. All thoughts and opinions are our own. Wish we could say the same about the monitors 🙂

10

6 Reasons to Start Getting Fit Today

New to exercise? Returning after a break of a few (or 30) years? Not really excited about exercise, but know you should? Hate the word “should” because it makes you feel guilty? Us too. In any case, the perfect time to start a get-fit regimen is today. You know, right after you read this post. Or do your lunges while you read it. Then take a few sweaty selfies to prove your dedication.

Six reasons to get you motivated:

1. People your age are starting to have health issues and you don’t want to join your peer group in this particular activity. You want to stay vibrant and energetic and independent and active and you know that it takes just a few new habits or changes to get where you want to be. You also want to stick around long enough to add commas and remove a few “ands” from the previous sentence.sunlight through the trees

2. Your high school reunion is coming up. Time to impress that person you always had a crush on. Time to make all the mean girls super envious of your vivacity. Have you noticed that fit people are attractive? It’s actually true. Exercise and healthy living give you confidence and energy. Confident, energetic people appear more attractive. Some weird evolutionary thing that makes sense. Notice we didn’t say “skinny” or “thin.” We said “fit” and “healthy.” Define your goal, baby.

If you view yourself as an exerciser your habits will change to meet that self-image. Click To Tweet

3. Your stress levels will go down. Yup, exercise reduces stress. In fact, it’s the number two motivator for working out (We know you’re wondering, so click this link to read our post that gives the number one motivator). Making snow angels decreases stress too, FYI.

snow angel

4. You will avoid the somewhat unrealistic expectation that you can get fit in time for a trip that starts on a Saturday if you start working out on the previous Wednesday. Much more realistic is to start a wee bit sooner. If your goal is weight loss, you can safely sustain a weight loss of 1 ½ to 2 pounds per week, so if you start today you will lose about 6 or 7 pounds in less than a month. If you’re thinking, “Hey, my goal is 35 pounds. What good is 6 or 7,” my answer is this – you’ll be 1/5th of the way there, if “there” is your weight loss goal. But your outlook and how you feel will be 75% of the way there, because research says that you will start to view yourself as an exerciser, which means your habits will change to meet that self-image. In straight-talk, after a few weeks your self-perception will change. From there, your activities change to meet this new self-view. Four or 5 months may seem like a long time if you’re planning to lose 35 pounds, but how long did it take to put ON those 35 pounds? Give yourself a break, eh?!Walking in the snow

5. Want to be smarter? Want to stave off memory loss, confusion, and dementia? Er, wait, I got distracted. More than anything else, exercise makes you smarter. Your brain gets bigger. It works faster and more efficiently. It gives better commands to your body. I always tell my university students that the best time for them to take a test is right after exercise class, NOT after staying up all night studying (while ingesting abnormal amounts of caffeine). We love the link between exercise and brainpower so much that we have written extensively on it. Exercise Can Train Your Brain, Spark Your Brain with Exercise, and Exercise Your Right to a Better Brain are three posts to get you started.

Exercise makes you smarter. Your brain gets bigger. It works faster and more efficiently. Click To Tweet

Sunset over water6. You will save money. You will have more energy. You will look better. You will feel better. You will meet a lot of cool people. Your math skills will improve. You’ll get an end of year tax deduction…One of these may be false. Hint: As you now know, exercise makes you smarter, so it’s actually quite possible your math skills will improve. For example, I was going to write 10 Reasons, but got bogged down when I carried the 1, multiplied the 0, subtracted the junk food, added the Lycra and Voila, ended up with 6 Reasons!

The best time to take a test or give a presentation is right after you exercise. Click To Tweet

ACTION: Ready to be more active after reading this post but want more professional guidance and cutting edge practical tips? Own the complete set of our TransformAging Summit recordings. Learn how here: TransformAging

Text & photos by Alexandra Williams, MA

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4

How Do I Get Healthy Habits to Stick?

Kymberly and Alexandra post bike ride

Healthy Habits Can Be Yours

Are you striving to stick with healthy habits? To say good-bye to some old ones and “come on in” to new, good ones? Aren’t we all? If you had the opportunity to easily and permanently change a few habits to improve your health and happiness would you be interested?

Starting vs Staying Power

No surprise that one of the biggest habits we get asked about as group fitness instructors is how to make exercise a regular part of life. And of course, it’s not just about STARTING a fitness program (especially in the new year), but also STICKING with it.

Hollywood Christmas ParadeOne of the key ways to successfully put more movement into your life this month, next, and throughout the year is to resist temptation to get fit all at once. Overdoing it and trying to progress too quickly is a sure way to set your new or improved habit up for failure. No one wants to face next year and say “last year I wanted to lose 20 pounds. Only 25 to go.”

Ok, seriously, the trick is to progress at a pace that allows you to convert desire into habit. What often happens:

  1. You’re super motivated.  You start an exercise program with energetic intent and full power. No results yet that you can see, but, hey, it’s only been a few days.
  2. You up the ante. If twice a week is good, thrice is better. If 30 minutes of exercise is doable, then 45 minutes will really get this new exercise regimen going. If the pace is comfortable, then you must not be pushing hard enough.
  3. Week three or so — your body aches; your muscles are sore; your schedule seems taken over by trips to the gym or basement exercise room.  And darn, but you still don’t see results. All this work, and it’s not working! Yet. Now.
  4. You get demotivated. Or injured. Or pulled back into your prior schedule because who can sustain such a big change?
When you are looking to improve your movement habits, keep in mind the FIT principle Click To Tweet

The FIT Principle

Kymberly's ABC class students. Photo by Dorothy Salvatori More healthy habits in action

Photo by Dorothy Salvatori

Every year eager baby boomers, active agers, mid lifers, and others take on too much, too fast, too intensely. They get hard hit, instead of a habit.

When you are looking to improve your movement habits, keep in mind the FIT principle:

  • F = Frequency.  How often are you working out?
  • I = Intensity. How hard are you willing to exercise?
  • T = Time. How long will your movement sessions last or total up to?

Make One Change at a Time

Make walking a daily habit as it leads to other healthy habitsChange only ONE of these elements at a time, about every two to three weeks. Going harder and longer and more often all at once is a statistical road to failure. Up the ante one letter at a time –  more F or I or T. No ands.

Let me repeat this as it’s so critical and so overlooked: As you progress into your new life of improved movement habits, change only the Frequency, Intensity, or Time of your workouts when you uptick. Stick with the revised version another 2-3 weeks. Then consider whether you need to adjust upward again by going more often, harder, or longer. Pick one. Add. Keep. Adapt. Repeat. A little bit more than the week before.

Sustainable and better for you! Sounds like a new food or vitamin. The FIT principle will help get and KEEP you fit. Next thing you know, you’ll have created a new, healthy, successful exercise habit.

ACTION: Make our blog a good habit by subscribing. We come to you twice a week. Then twice a week some more. But not thrice, plus longer. Click this link to claim your bonus and progress to healthy habits.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

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