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8

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.

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

4

How Do I Get Healthy Habits to Stick?

Kymberly and Alexandra post bike rideAre you striving to improve some of your 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

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 habitChange 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. Enter your email in our subscription box and claim your bonus.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

40

Forget “New” You for the New Year. Be “More” You

Do you make the usual resolutions – lose weight, be kinder, somehow get younger magically, be stronger, become more attractive, make more friends, create world peace? I never do, as resolutions imply that we aren’t good enough, and I like to think I am already good enough. What about you, do you feel the same about them?

rusted-barrel-beach-1We want to start our first blog post of the year with some ooomph, which is actually more like the sound my body makes when I sit down quickly. So while I’m seated, let’s see if I can hold your interest. Better yet, I hope to inspire you to continue to be…. YOU. In all your glory. Why reinvent yourself when the current you has all you need?

Rather than make any resolutions, I have simply picked a word for the year. It’s “consolidate.” What word would you pick and why? We want to know, so please tell us in the comments. I want to consolidate my gains – recognition for my photo skills, making new friends, joining a dance troupe, getting out and about in downtown where I now live. I also want to consolidate my stressors – financial in particular. Of course, if I can increase my photography work, then my money worries will definitely decrease. Don’t get me started on the $1,900 monthly health insurance bill. Sigh….

Tahoe daybreak in winter

Tahoe pier in winterLately my sis and I have been posting pics of things we enjoy doing, and we get comments about our energy and youthfulness. Which means many people have a mental construct about how Boomer women such as ourselves “should” look and act. Maybe the preconceived Boomer notion comes from memories of our own parents, or perhaps how we view ourselves, but for all of you in our demographic, do you see yourselves as lacking energy and youthfulness?

Maybe for 2016 all of us Boomer ladies need to join hands (preferably to disco music) and pinky swear to take on Carrie Fisher’s reminder that youth and beauty are NOT accomplishments. How we live is an accomplishment.

clouds over the beach

La Boheme Dancers

Performing with La Boheme Dancers. Photo credit: Ross Barrett

So my exhortation, advice, suggestion, hope, admonition, and reminder is this – Go live. Live in a way that prevents you from saying “I wish I had done X or Y in 2016” when 2017 rolls around. If you love the outdoors, get out there. If you want to make friends, go make some. If you want to shed people who hold you down or back, shed them. If you want to sell your possessions and go around the world with your kids, do so. Take a chance, or a leap, or a dare. Or just say yes to a few new things. And no to a few others.

two dogs playing

Kila and Sydney; Kymberly’s dogs. Photo credit: Kymberly

Before:after radiocab

La Boheme Dance Troupe

La Boheme at New Year’s Eve. Photo credit: Ross Barrett

My sis said yes to a second dog. She said yes to taking beat-up furniture and making it pretty again. I said yes to being part of a dance group. And even though I was scared of being laughed at by true photo pros, I made note cards from some of my photos and now am selling them. I have even been hired as a photographer for a few ventures. I decided I was more scared of not trying (and of the medical bills). Put your energy where it creates more energy.

sculpture in Santa BarbaraOf course, we know that we get much of our energy and youthfulness (whatever that actually is) from our love of movement and exercise, and we hope you do too (great chance for me to plug my sister’s upcoming Ultimate Abs ebook), but you know best what gives you energy. That’s a benefit of being older; we know what works for and against us.

Miles and Aidan

This one has an official title: Balance and Movement. And yes, I know it’s crooked.

Let 2016 be one of many years where you are yourself, but MORE. Happy New Year. And if you haven’t yet subscribed to our twice-weekly posts, this is a perfect time. Just add your email to the bar on the right.

Except where noted, all photos are by me, Alexandra, and are for sale.

by Alexandra Williams, MA

1

Yosemite Wellness & Spa Retreat at Tenaya Lodge

Are you a fan of the two “S” words – Spa and Snow? If so, you might like to join us at Tenaya Lodge’s third annual Wellness & Spa Retreat near Yosemite National Park January 15-18, 2016.

room at Tenaya LodgeWe’ve gone for the past two years as presenters, and know that this year’s event will be the best one yet.

Want a few teasers?

  • The very popular Chef Sheamus is back and will lead an interactive cooking class.
  • Per overwhelming request from last year’s participants, the keynote dinner is a whiskey pairing dinner. Even if you’re not a whiskey drinker, you’ll love the other options and the food. Joe Sorbo from Southern Wine and Spirits will share the heritage and culture that is whiskey tasting.
  • You have your choice of nature hikes. Tenaya Lodge’s most requested hike guide Janelle Moisa will be leading at least one of the hikes down to Lewis Creek.
  • Keynote address from Abbie Kozolchyk, the beauty and travel director for Every Day with Rachel Ray. All participants get to hear Abbie’s insights from over two decades of writing about beauty and wellness.
  • During an interactive class with Slade Wheeler you’ll even learn to paint.
  • And because it’s a spa event, you’ll relax during your massage/ spa treatments. We have tried a variety of the options and cannot name a favorite. Well, yes we can – all of them.

spa treatment, Tenaya LodgeOh, yeah, you’ll also have four chances to get your fit on with Kymberly and me. Sis is teaching Abs, Butt, Core, plus hosting a seminar, How Fit Are You, while I’m teaching Drums Alive and speaking about Diet Saboteurs.

For some pictures and a look at some of the previous events, read our posts 3 Ways to Perfect Your Posture: Tenaya Healthy Living Retreat is One, and Global Wellness Day: Good Health is for Everyone.

Once you’re done looking at those, hop over to the Tenaya Lodge site and register.

It’s just a month away, and we are already doing anticipatory relaxing. Join us. You can even have our whiskey.

All photos courtesy of Tenaya Lodge. And this post is not sponsored. We just want you to join us.

We invite you to subscribe to all our posts, which come out twice a week. Sign up to the right ———->

9

10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Every year about this time we are asked for our “best” tips to avoid weight gain over the holiday season. So every year we share what we believe to be some simple and easy tips. As many of you know, simple is one thing; easy another, yet we have found these 10 tips to have a great success rate with our students, readers and even ourselves.

Ten Tips to Avoid Weight Gain

fountain at Rancho la Puerta1. Drink lots of water and green tea before the feast. You will feel full and less inclined to overeat.

2. Eat your usual breakfast and lunch. Don’t skip a meal thinking you will then be free to make up for lost calories when dinner is served. By the time that occurs, you’re likely to be so hungry that you’ll overeat or choose whatever is closest.

3. Sort foods into 3 categories:

  • Food I love and will probably have two helpings of;
  • Food I like and will take just one helping of;
  • Food I don’t need to eat at all.

Planning and paying attention have a definite effect on how much you pile on your plate.

4. Use a salad plate instead of dinner plate. You’ll be inclined to eat less. Most of us are visually triggered, so we stop adding food once our plate looks full, regardless of plate size.

5. Get up from the table when done. Do not sit with food in front of you once you’re done. Also, put food away right after you’ve finished dinner or you could end up eating an entire meal’s worth just from picking at the stuff that’s in front of you. If you feel you’re being impolite, just say, “I’m putting stuff in the fridge now so I don’t feel tempted to overeat. Anyone who’s still hungry is more than welcome to help themselves.” Not only are you letting people know why you’re putting food away quickly, you’re also making yourself accountable by stating your goal to not overeat.
shadow of person on bridge
6. Use your mind to decide what matters. When loading your plate, ask yourself this question: “Am I choosing this because I’m hungry or because it tastes good?” No right or wrong answer exists; it’s simply that the awareness of your choices will help you make a considered decision as you realize that you are in control, not the food.

7. Go for a walk. What better way to spend quality time with your family or friends than by putting on a jacket and getting outside?

walking is great exercise

Follow us to Tenaya (and our upcoming massage)

8. Invite guests to your meal whom you admire and respect. Or who wouldn’t otherwise have a friendly place to go celebrate. When the focus is on the guests rather than the food, we tend to eat less. If you have no-one outside of your usual circle to invite over, cook all your food, then take half of it to your local homeless shelter (if they accept outside meals).

9. Put reminders in places where you’ll actually see them – on the stove, in the fridge, on the storage containers, on your placemat. These reminders need to be positive in nature, not negative or they will only make you feel bad. For example, “You can do this” and “Remember your long term goals” are positive reminders. “Don’t even think about eating this” and “oink oink” are definitely negative. I don’t know anyone who responds well to negativity, do you?

10. Be kind to yourself. Maybe eating a few huge meals is what you want to do, and is no reflection on your usual habits. Maybe you are fine with doing extra cardio and weights as a balance. And maybe, just maybe, you are healthy and your weight is irrelevant. If you start feeling guilty, ask yourself if it’s for your own sake or because you feel you’ll be judged. At the end of the day (and the season), it’s your normal patterns and habits that matter, not a few meals. So be kind.
happy dog
What tips would you add to this list?

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12

How Do I Prevent Calf Soreness After Walking Hills?

My Calves Are Stiff

Dear K and A: I know you’ll probably faint, but having exercised for 1.5 hours TWO DAYS IN A ROW, I have a legitimate workout question. Yesterday and today a friend and I did a brisk, very hilly walk for an hour followed by 20 minute Pilates dvd workouts.  Okay, that’s really 1.33 hours, so I exaggerate. It is now very clear to me that I did not stretch enough afterwards. My calves are getting really stiff.  It was 2.5  hours ago that I stopped working out. Is there anything I can do now to help the lactic acid leave my calves?  Help please!  Liz, Goleta, CA

Dear Liz:
Alexandra in high weeds walking

Alexandra loves flat things – terrain, shoes, her chest

Alexandra: Why would I faint? I’m not the one who overdid it! I only go for walks on surfaces that are FLAT. Why would I want to sweat during my nice walk? If you want to get rid of stiffness, have your muscles practice public speaking. Or learn to become a better stretcher! Or ask to be carried down those hills on one! And what do you mean by “really hilly?” Is that a reference to a television reality show in which everyone must fend for themselves in a mountainous region (I define “mountainous” as anything rising above sea level)?

Kymberly: Well, as you probably noticed, we did not get the huge bribe gift for getting to your question via the super express rush deluxe insta-answer service. So let’s answer as if you were going to hike the hills again and wonder what to do next time. Hope you survived in the meantime.

Calf and Shin Action Uphill, Downhill, and on Flat Terrain

Alexandra: Miss Lizzie, when you walk downhill, your shin muscles (let’s call them Aunty Tibby – formal name is anterior tibialis) lengthen and your calves (let’s call them Bessie & Bossy – formal names are gastrocnemius & soleus) shorten. Shorten is nature’s way of saying “contract.” If you had gone for a flat, or even mildly hilly walk, your bleating calves wouldn’t be crying so much for Mama. But you have admitted, under no oath whatsoever, that your walk was “very hilly.” For the record, I too go for really long walks. I call it “going outside and getting lost, then accosting strangers to ask for a ride home.” Your brain said, “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day,” while your calves said, “shorten, lengthen, shorten, lengthen.” See how stiff your calves are in conversation?

Tip for Walking Uphill

Mountain and view at Ranch

Climb Every Mountain

Kymberly: Concerning stretching, Alexandra is onto something. Post walking, stretch your calves and imagination by holding a position whereby your toes are higher than your ankle. aka dorsiflexion. Hold it, hold it, hold it. Now switch legs. To make this successfully simple, Try the three calf stretches we show in our post, Prevent Shin Splints: 3 Calf Stretches.

Next, pay attention to your foot action as you go uphill. Did you bend at the ankle getting your heel to the ground with each stride? Good form going uphill means keeping your body vertical and accounting for the hill angle at the ankle joint by allowing your heel to make contact with the ground with each step. Pick that answer. Or did you basically head uphill on the balls of your feet, bending forward from the hip or spine, and having your heel hanging in space? If so, your calves were in contraction throughout the walk and transforming into steers of steel. No bull. And no wonder they are bellowing. (Check out “Proper Form for Uphill Walking” here).

Tip to Avoid Muscle Soreness Post Workout

And now for the big finish: next time — and there will be a next time doncha know — really break your record and do something cardio for a third day in a row. Yes, walk again within 24 hours even if only for 10 minutes so that you elevate your core temperature and minimize muscle soreness. Fancy names and accurate terms cost extra. But for you — free today. The term is DOMS – Delayed Onset of Muscles Soreness. Or – Darn Old Muscles–Stretch!.  When you suddenly up the ante on muscle use (different from “Aunty Tibby), those muscles are prone to soreness. But if you reheat them before DOMS sets in, you reduce that stiffness. And I am all about reheating unless Alexandra is cooking. Then I get it fresh.

To make this super simple: walk, walk, stretch, drink water, head home, sleep my pretty, sleep, wake, walk again until warm, stretch, call us in the morning. With that gift.

Rancho la Puerta oak grove and chimes

Chime in with what you think DOMS should stand for after a hike or walk.

Alexandra: Kymberly is right; I am fresh. And onto something. Known as my stretched butt. DOMS – Don’t Offer Money to Sis.

Dear Readers: Have you ever experienced muscle soreness? What did you do about it? What do you wish DOMS stood for?

Action: Please share this post on twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. Simply click on the icons in the left column. Thanks!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

9

Hobbies and Mental Fitness

Has a hobby ever made a big difference in your happiness or ability to persevere during times of stress? Do you think having a hobby can help you be more mentally “fit?”

sculpture in a Santa Barbara office gardenA year ago I took a photography class at Santa Barbara City College. This month I won two separate small photo awards. No money or worldwide acclaim (or any acclaim, actually), but quite a boost to my self-esteem.

From last year to this has been quite a change, hasn’t it? Most of the past year was terrible, due to medical family issues that led to me being in charge of two people, but some of it was enjoyable and fulfilling because I took my camera with me everywhere I went.

library at nightAs a fitness pro, much of my writing and advice is geared toward the physical aspect of fitness, yet I also have my MA in systemic counseling because I find emotional fitness to be just as important and deserving of attention.

Technically, I’m at the beginning stages of my photo skills. I only last month learned how to use an external flash so I could start taking pictures at night. But that isn’t as important as the feeling I get from seeing myself as a photographer.

colorful office garden in downtownAt the age of 26 (I actually remember the specific moment), I decided to become a more optimistic person. I had always had a low opinion of myself, especially my looks, yet when I look back at photos of my younger self, I don’t understand how I could have been so hard on myself.

I researched the ways that CHOOSING how to view events shapes our health. It seems obvious, yet it really is true that where you focus is how you see the world. For example, if one bad thing happens in the day, do you think, “What a bad day,” or do you think, “What a bad PART of my day?”

palm trees in Santa BarbaraThe young me wouldn’t have taken up photography because I would have been afraid to fail at it. Words have always been my comfort zone, not pictures. But the middle-aged me didn’t mind being uncomfortable because I had a bigger goal – do something that might be fun, would be just mine, and could possibly help improve our blog. Instead of focusing on the fact that I was one of the oldest people in the class, or that many of the students knew how to use a DSLR (I didn’t even know what DSLR meant), or even that I had no idea whether my photos were good or terrible, I chose to focus on the fact that I was doing something that was mine, all mine.

abandoned warehouse in Santa BarbaraFor countless hours over the past year, I walked around taking pictures while waiting to give rides to family members who had doctor, therapy, job, rehab, school and all other manner of appointments. And I have gotten better from the practice. Not just better as a photographer, but better in a “zen” way. Having something that’s just mine, and some time that’s just mine is so important. Even more so during times of prolonged stress. Passive activities such as watching TV or reading a book don’t give me the same feeling of accomplishing or creating something tangible.

Tamrac Anvil Camera BagWhat hobby do you have that puts the You back into You, especially during difficult times. What calms your mind?

Abandoned-shopping-cart-1

stairs at Hendry's Beach in Santa BarbaraOh, as to the two photos that were noticed, the shopping cart was taken with my Canon, while the stairs at Hendry’s Beach was my iPhone. And the photo of me wearing my Tamrac Anvil photo gear backpack was taken by my photo professor Say Dempsay. See how she knows how to use lighting perfectly? I’m working on that. I want to give a shoutout to Tamrac because they were the first photo brand to recognize me as a professional photographer (I have my photos for sale in Alamy Stockhouse, FYI). I will stick with Tamrac because they valued my photo skills enough to send me the Anvil backpack for all my gear (including the zoom and macro lenses on my Christmas wish list).

by Alexandra Williams, MA

For more great tips on all kinds of fitness and health, subscribe to our twice-weekly blog posts. Handy button to your right —–>

9

Ten Ways to Get Healthier in Under 10 Minutes

Ranch cactusDid you know you can get healthier in ten minutes or less? Little habits add up to big changes.

After more than 30 years as fitness and health educators, we know that most habits, good and poor, come in small increments. And these small increments are the path to better health and fitness. With this in mind, we’re adding our 10 cents, based on the successful experiences many of our students and clients have had. Ten tips, and all 10 are under 10 minutes each.

Alexandra’s Top 5 Tips

Brush your teeth before sitting down to watch a TV show. You’ll be less likely to eat those high-calorie, no nutritional benefit snacks.

Write out your grocery list, then stick to it. If marshmallow caramel chocolate double-dipped snack-a-doodles aren’t on your list, they don’t go in the basket. You can’t eat what isn’t in the house.

fitness trackerWear a fitness tracker so you get a realistic sense of the number of calories you’re burning daily. You may be surprised how low the number is.

Whenever you have to wait for someone (a child at school, spouse at an appointment, friend at the movies), walk while you wait instead of sitting. If you have to stay in one place, then stand and move about the room (or fidget). If it’s a 10-minute appointment, go for a 10-minute walk. You’d be amazed at the number of steps you can add to your day just by NOT sitting.

Los Angeles TheatreBuy foods in bulk. If your rice is in a 5-pound bag, then you are lifting a 5-pound weight when you carry it. Do a few bicep curls before you use up all the rice! You don’t need fancy weights to work out. An overhead press with a 5-pound bag of flour works… and leaves you with a nice powdery dusting in your hair.

Kymberly’s Top 5 Tips

1. Get up during tv commercials and either walk or jog in place or grab a broom and sweep the floor. Yup, do a chore; it’s not a bore; you can reap more… when you move during ads.
walk the labyrinth2. Set a timer to remind you to stand up and walk at least 100 steps every 20-30 minutes. Takes just 2 minutes and prevents the physical and mental atrophy that comes with sitting too long at a stretch.

3. Meditate to relieve stress, increase cognitive skills, enhance compassion, reduce blood pressure, and send more blood and oxygen to your brain. Take advantage of free phone apps to build in a 5-8 minute meditation. Longer is great; but even a short meditation session will bring benefits. For suggestions on apps you can download, click to our post Meditation, Menopause, and Memory.

Meditating at Rancho la Puerta

Kymberly Meditating at Rancho la Puerta

4. Repeat Yourself Yourself. When you go to sit down, sit, then stand, then sit. Then when you are ready to get up again (see my second tip), stand, then sit down, then stand and go!  Congrats! You have just completed two squats. If you repeat this down-up-down up-down-up pattern a few times a day, you’ll have easily and quickly worked in a full squat set. Hello easy lower body strengthener!

5. Swap out your computer, office, or tv watching chair for a stability ball. At least you will get some core activation while sitting. Takes fewer than 10 minutes to switch the chair for the ball, but you’ll reap the rewards the entire time you are on the ball. Yes, get on the ball people!

 

Action: Reading and exercising make you smarter, which also leads to brain health, right? So subscribe to our twice-weekly posts. They’ll get you all smartened up. And first crack at our upcoming Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50 program.

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

9

Keep Your Family (and Self) Healthy and Happy

Over the past year, and especially the last few weeks, my family’s happiness (and mine) have been on my mind. A lot. Mainly because there hasn’t been much of it, due to a life-altering medical issue that occurred in the family.
Manhattan Beach PierWithout dwelling on unhappiness and un-health, I’ve now made some changes that were imperative to our health and happiness. You need both to have a quality life (plug here for exercise – do it).

So this post is about some of the things I’ve recently done that make life easier and more enjoyable. And yes, much happier and healthier. See if any of these resonate with you.

orchid from orgainAttend ShiftCon – This social media conference focuses on wellness, health, and the environment. Bloggers, brands and non-governmental organizations come together to share information about living our values through our food, skin care, household products, activism, and how we treat the environment. Keep a particular eye out for Orgain, Thrive Market, and Stonyfield Organics. They are game-changing companies.

Hermosa Beach muralI support organic, non-GMO, labelled products. I want to know what I’m eating and putting on and in my body. Eighteen years ago I had to learn to cook from scratch and read labels due to my son’s allergies and delays, and his health is extremely important to me. Being unaware is an excuse, not an explanation, so I like to stay aware. And I know that my money is my vote.

Hermosa Beach bicyclist

Visit My Hometown – ShiftCon was held in Manhattan Beach, which is next to Hermosa Beach, where I grew up. So I spent some time walking and taking pictures. In some ways the visits back to Hermosa make me sad, and I’m not sure why, yet overall I feel at peace and can focus on the arc of my life. I don’t want to move back there, but I sure do love the emotional attachment, history, and memories.

Move Into Downtown Santa Barbara – For the past ten years, we’ve lived at the top of a mountain, with driving being the only travel option. Taking all the other chores out of the equation (and they are overwhelming on their own), just the chauffeuring was taking up hours and hours of my time, as I was the only driver in the house. Now my younger son and I are living in a place where he can walk or take the bus (he is blind at night, so I’ll be doing some driving, which is way better than constant driving).

Since I’m not driving as much, I’m using the time to pick up more writing and social media jobs. And put more of my photos up for sale. Feel free to hire me. I’m very good. The cat is all settled in (no more barfing or peeing on my bed), and the dog is now here too.

Surfers in Manhattan BeachBlock Out People Who Add Stress – If you get into a situation where you are the caretaker for someone, shed yourself of the idea that you have to answer to anyone except those who are directly impacted. Heck, even if you’re not a caretaker, do this. Opinions are stressful; solutions are helpful. Answer every inappropriate or judgmental question with “May I tell you how you can be helpful?” That usually works.

sandbird at the beachIf I had tried to solve all my big problems over the past year, I would have been stuck because I was too overwhelmed. So I am solving one thing at a time. I cannot help others if I don’t stay healthy and happy. The martyr thing is overmarketed. Now, who wants to come over and help me plant hedges and a garden?

What do you do to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and happy?

by Alexandra Williams, MA

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What is Active Aging?

I was asked what active aging means a few days ago. It was a great question, though it took me by surprise, as I had made the erroneous assumption that everyone knew what I meant. Assuming didn’t work out, so I’ll share my definition.

photo shot into a ceiling mirror at Ripley's

I’m actually learning over backward to take this photo into a ceiling mirror at Ripley’s Believe it or Not in Hollywood. You are looking at me from a bird’s eye view. Active Aging includes flexibility.

Active Aging: Making frequent small choices that enable you to move as freely as possible throughout your world.

Say what?! Well, I could have said “Move a lot and exercise,” but it’s not really that. Besides, that sounds like one or two choices per day. The truth is that it is NOT so much the choice to go to an exercise class or do an activity that works up a sweat. It is the repeated small choices we make every day.

Pool at KOA in Santa PaulaI’ll give you an example that illustrates the “Use it or Lose it” principle. I was at an event this past weekend where we had access to a pool, which was at the bottom of a hill. After swimming, we had lunch at the top of the hill. It was very hot, so the 3-minute walk up and down the hill wasn’t fun. A ride was provided for those who didn’t want to walk. Nearly everyone took the ride, saying they didn’t like to walk uphill. That was a choice. Yet if we play this out, look what happens:

  • Chooses to ride due to dislike of walking once
  • Chooses to ride due to dislike of walking many more times that day
  • Walks 4,000 steps total in a day rather than the 7,000 that walking would have led to
  • Has to one day walk up a hill because no ride is available – discovers that it’s very difficult, and that the heart is pounding so much it’s scary
  • Vows to never walk up a hill again
  • Loses ability to walk up steep hills
  • Eventually loses ability to walk up short, not-so-steep hills
  • Opts out of activities that require much walking
  • Chooses only activities that are seated or can easily be accessed by car
  • World is now much smaller, as many activities are no longer considered
Tamrac Anvil Camera Bag

This is my new Anvil Camera Bag, which Tamrac sent me. Click on the photo to check out their full line of camera bags.

Many older people we know (and a few younger ones too, sadly) are no longer able to walk at all, due entirely to the many small choices they made over the years to NOT move. They didn’t use their legs, so they lost the ability to use their legs. They aged inactively.

What do you think might have happened if they had chosen the stairs instead of the elevator? Those were repeated, small choices. What if they had gone for a 10-minute walk around the block while waiting for their loved one to come out from an appointment or school?  What if they had gone in the pool with their kids instead of sitting on the chaise longue? Or stood up to change the TV channel instead of using the remote control? All small choices that lead to active aging.

Ziplining at KOA Santa Paula

About to go ziplining. Active Aging includes this, plus the ability to climb a tower ladder.

You don’t need to get sweaty and exhausted. You don’t need to climb a steep hill … today. You just need to make small, incremental choices every single day that lead you toward doing the things you want to do five, ten and twenty years from now. What you don’t use, you’ll lose. Once you’re in the habit of walking, you’ll find that sitting for long periods of time is actually physically uncomfortable. And you want that. You want to be more comfortable moving than not moving.

This is my plea to you – Make small choices
And this is my wish for you – Live a long, active, healthy, enjoyable life that ends abruptly, not slowly

by Alexandra Williams, MA

What are some of the small choices you make every day that lead you toward or away from activity? What do you want to be doing when you’re 65, 75, 85, 95?

Make one small choice right now and subscribe to our fantabulous posts by entering your email right over there to the right.———> They will magically arrive in your inbox two times per week. Also, subscribe to me, AlexandraFunFit on Periscope, and watch my amazing travel and fitness scopes (videos).

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