Category Archives for "I Want to Feel Better"

Global Wellness Day

Global Wellness Day is a day to encourage living well. This year it’s on June 13th. The meaning behind it isn’t to celebrate living a high-cost life; it’s to bring attention to living a life of balance and well-being.  Founded by Belgin Aksoy of Richmond Nua Wellness-Spa in Turkey, it will be celebrated this year in more than 30 countries on six continents.

Richmond Nua Wellness Spa, Istanbul

Richmond Nua Wellness Spa, Turkey/ Photo credit: Richmond Nua Wellness Spa

At the recent ISPA (lots of spas all in one place, treating us like royalty) event in Beverly Hills, I got a chance to chat with Frank Pitsikalis, Founder and CEO of ResortSuite and one of two Canadian Ambassadors for Global Wellness Day. He told me that it’s a way to complement the traditional health care system in a way that focuses on prevention rather than treatment. “So much of our health care is tertiary, meaning we try to treat a problem after it’s already occurred. Global Wellness Day is looking at primary, preventive care. Why not lead lives that help prevent illness and doctor visits? Life is moving at a record pace, and this is a day to remind and inspire people to live a little more consciously, and turn living well into a way of life.”

Woman meditating sculptureSince the goal of the campaign is to spread awareness about the holistic benefits of exercise, healthy nutrition, and mental and emotional wellness, we are all for shouting (in a calming way) it from the spa rooftops. Or something like that. On Saturday, the Global Wellness day ambassadors want you to ask yourself this question, “”How can I live a healthier and better life?”

Pick a card, any card. Do you want to improve your eating habits? Your exercise habits? Your spiritual well-being? Your relationships? What would be the ONE thing you could do on Saturday to live a healthier, better life? Maybe one of the 7 steps recommended by Aksoy:

Walk one hour daily
Drink more water
Eat organic, locally sourced produce
Give up plastic bottles
Do a good deed
Eat a family dinner
Go to bed by 10pm

living centerpieces from FarmBox

Living Centerpieces

One of our favorite wellness women, Deborah Szekely, co-founder of Rancho la Puerta resort in Tecate, Mexico, says that having a day dedicated to the benefits of wellness is like having a calling card; it’s an introduction to something enticing that will get you hooked.

We agree with that sentiment. Once you get in the habit of feeling good, dare we say great, in your own body, you will be hooked on a life of wellness.

While we haven’t been (yet) to Istanbul to visit Richmond Nua Wellness-Spa, we definitely have a few spa resorts to recommend. Our faves:

Rancho la Puerta – Tecate, Mexico

Aqua Class at Glen Ivy

Aqua Class at Glen Ivy

Glen Ivy Hot Springs – Corona, California

Now THAT'S  a scenic hike!

Scenic hike at Tenaya Lodge/  Photo credit: Tenaya Lodge

Tenaya Lodge – Yosemite, California
Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program – Rochester, Minnesota
Anschutz Health and Wellness Center – Denver, Colorado

More to the point, we hope YOU will call your local spa and find out if they’re offering any free or discounted activities or treatments on Saturday. You can also head over to the Global Wellness Day Facebook page and get inspired.
Live it up this Saturday. While you’re at it, Well it up, Relax it up, and Kale it up (heh heh)!
Be well.

Turkish Bath/ Photo credit: Richmond Nua Wellness Spa

Turkish Bath/ Photo credit: Richmond Nua Wellness Spa

Speaking of healthy living, we want to give a well-massaged thumbs up to Rancho la Puerta, sponsors of our TransformAging Webinar: For Women Over 45 Who Don’t Want to Just Grow Old, But Intend to Age Actively! Six videos with accompanying slides, eight experts, hundreds of hot tips on aging INTO health, not out of it. Click here to learn more and order your set.

Rancho la puerta

by Alexandra Williams, MA


Too Tired To Start Exercising?

Hi Alexandra and Kymberly: I am frequently exhausted and ache. I don’t know where to start to build in a sane way. Weights, (brief) high intensity intervals, gentle cardiovascular like walking? Just getting through a work day wears me out and I usually need to nap after exercise. Anne from Olympia, WA

Dear Anne: We can say you are sane enough already to ask a great and common question. Actually you managed a three-in-one special deal as you actually have three separate issues:

  1. Why might you be too tired to exercise in the first place?
  2. Why is exercise making you more fatigued?
  3. What entry point exercises are good to build from?

And because we like package bonus deals, you get a four part answer to make you happy and zippy!

First, Consider What is Exhausting You

Problem: Are you dehydrated? Solution: Drink more water

Being underwatered will suck you dry! Even slight dehydration—as little as 2% of normal fluid loss—will reduce your energy levels. Dehydration reduces blood volume, thickening your blood. Then your heart pumps less efficiently, reducing the speed at which oxygen and nutrients reach your muscles and organs, thereby draining your energy.

Problem: Are you anemic? Solution: Get your blood tested

Anemia would cause your stated symptoms. Find out if you’re getting enough iron or losing more than you’re replacing.

Problem: Are you choosing energy-sapping foods? Solution: Check your eating habitsAlexandra drinking wine

Alexandra drinking wine

Wine, dine, and nap

Too much sugar? Not eating regular meals or skipping breakfast? Drinking wine late at night or starting the day with simple carbs? Powering through your day by relying on caffeine? Any of these habits will result in overall fatigue.

Next, Motivate Yourself Past Pre-Exercise Fatigue

Your work day is done and so are you! We totally get how tempting a nap sounds after a long, perhaps stressful work day. And maybe what you need is simply to sleep more or to revel in naps, guilt free. Most North American adults undersleep. But you asked about moving, and we are all about activity.

In fact, we bet you already know the counterintuitive reality that exercise increases energy. Studies indicate that as little as three bouts of cardio activity a week for 20 minutes per session boosts energy in as few as six weeks. Once you get past those first few weeks of starting to move more, you will enter that energizer bunny zone where exercise pumps you up rather than drags you down.

Sign to Happy Room

Which activity puts you into your Happy Room?

To get yourself doing something, the key is to commit to anything, not everything. What is the least you can do given your current exhaustion and ache levels? Determine what is achievable and head for the minimum. We really mean it. Take the mental pressure off yourself and head for the LEAST, not MOST you are willing to start with.

Rather than plunging into high intensity interval training or facing overload weight training, find something you enjoy and that comes easily to you. A resistance training fitness class where you are encouraged to go at your pace. A walk, brisk stroll, or march in place. A yoga, Pilates, stretch, or other mind/body class that combines movement with visualization, relaxation, or quiet time at the end. What about lunges during tv commercials or a few ab exercises before dinner? Just 5 minutes on an indoor bicycle?  Steps at home you can go up and down a few times. Water time if you have access to a pool or natural body of water- swimming, pool class, water jogging.

If you still find yourself needing a push to take the fork in the road towards activity, not lethargy, get a dog that likes walks. We might say “later” and “no” to ourselves, but who can deny a pet pooch whose daily walk is the day’s highlight? Wag wag, perky ears and out you go!Dog walk at More Mesa

Third, Reduce Being Worn Out Post Work Out

If exercise is wearing you out, most likely you need to drop the intensity of your workout. Another possibility is you are choosing stressful moves. Stress will wear you out even if the activity is low intensity.

  • Have you chosen activities you don’t enjoy?
  • Are you setting overly high expectations and demands on yourself?
  • Are you a perfectionist?

And of course, we have to interject that your post-exercise nap might be the best thing for you. But if you feel movement is wearing you down, then reduce the intensity or duration. You are either going too hard or too long at this phase of your re-entry program.

Which Bring Us to — Choose Moderate Moves

Try our Whole Body, No Equipment Needed, Easy as 3-2-1 Routine

K planking in ThailandBefore this post gets too long and tiresome (aha hah ha) let’s go with a simple, straightforward, “gee, we really don’t know your goals, limitations, time available” starting point program. If nothing else, do the following three moves that will address all major muscles of your body. Easy to perform; multi-joint so you get a lot of bang for your buck; and needing no equipment.

  1. Lunges or squats for the lower body
  2. Push ups on the wall, counter, knees, or toes for the upper body
  3. K planking in ThailandPlanks or reverse curls for the core

When you’re done, walk for 5 minutes.

You will feel so energized you’ll want more. Find that “more” in these posts that also answer your questions:

Tips to Get Your Butt to the Gym

I Want to Get Fit, but How Do I Start?

And of course, we have to mention our recent TransformAging Summit webinar session, “(Re)Starting Fitness Over 50,” which is sponsored by Rancho la Puerta Wellness Resort, a perfect place to ease into exercise. ,  For sale along with the other 5 presentations. Slides included. $34Sales image for TransformAging


Do You Have to Work Harder and Faster as You Age, Just to Stay the Same?

Dear Twins:
At age 71, I find that fitness is a race between the body’s downward slope and the effort to work faster to stay fit. I’d love to have help with how to stay fit at this age. What I find is that all the fitness professionals are addressing younger people. My goal is to be able to continue to walk long distances effortlessly for the rest of my life. Unfortunately sciatica has gotten in my way. So I’d like ways to conquer this and keep my lumbar spine in order. I walked my first half marathon in February, by the way!
Wendy, San Francisco

More Mesa walk

Do Walk Away! And walk this way. Click on the picture for tips on walking.

First of all Wendy, if you just did a half marathon, you are probably more fit than most of the young people I teach at the university. Congratulations on your achievement.

Let’s help you point by point:

Downward Slope, Effort & Staying Fit: I’ll focus on muscle loss, as you don’t mention a strength training component to your workout. Sarcopenia is the progressive decline in skeletal muscle mass that may lead to decreased strength and functionality. When people talk about the race against time, they are usually talking about sarcopenia.
I wrote an article for The Journal on Active Aging about ways to deal with this that might interest you. Summarized in two words – Resistance Training. If you add some resistance training to your regimen, you’ll be amazed at the results. A 70-year-old who does some form of strength/ resistance training can be more fit than a 20-year-old who doesn’t. Isn’t THAT good news?
I’ll start you with our YouTube playlists, “Healthy Aging Exercises for Women Over 45” and “Women Over 50.”
You’ll also want to check out two of our TransformAging webinar colleagues’ websites – Tamara Grand and Debra Atkinson.

cover page for sarcopenia article

Sarcopenia – Fancy word for “muscle wasting”

Effortless Walking: Since it sounds like your stamina and heart are chugging along, future effortless walking can be assisted by – you guessed it – resistance training, and balance work to prevent falls. Cody and Dan (our other co-presenters) specialize in this area, so here’s a link to some of their posts on balance.

Sciatica: Most research studies have shown stretching, yoga and low intensity movement (that doesn’t involve twisting) to be most effective in controlling the symptoms. For this we recommend you look locally for instructors who specialize in yoga or Pilates. You’ll want to ask about their certifications, speciality training (for both older adults and back care), and experience. Don’t be shy about asking for references. If you search for exercises online, check the source. For example, we trust the info on this link from the National Institutes of Health.
Final suggestion for now – strengthen your core so your back takes less of the load. We’ll get you started with our post “Abs and Core Exercises That Are Safe for the Lower Back.”

Of course, you can always come to Santa Barbara and join us in one of our classes for older adults. We’ll take good care of you!

by Alexandra Williams, MA



If Calories and Exercise Don’t Control Your Weight, What Does?

Swig From This Fountain of Truth

As children, we learned about Ponce de León and the mythical Fountain of Youth. But did you know it actually exists? Not in a creepy, Dorian Gray way either. Every town, every home, and every person has access to the fountain; it’s just known under a different name now. The Fountain of Youth’s true name is …

Boomer Woman On Lake


Ah, ah, ah, don’t get discouraged by that word. You probably thought “easy” when you read “fountain of youth,” and “hard” when you read “exercise.” But what if the path to exercise was much easier than you thought? What if moving and eating better and more appropriately for our midlife years were as easy as the not-so-helpful habits you currently have?Connie (or Coco) stretching at Rancho la Puerta

Our TransformAging Webinar Summit is ready to go, and you’re invited to join our 8 experts for this 6-video series that will get you slapping your forehead and saying, “Gee, I could’ve had a V8 restarted my fitness years ago if I’d realized it wouldn’t be so overwhelming.”

Tips from TransformAging to Transform You

Look below for a few hot tips in the ol’ town tonight that come from the various TransformAging sessions. You’ll get solutions and antidotes for all the Fit Facts below. But first, a few quiz questions to whet your Fountain of Youthiness thirst and appetite:

  1. At what age does muscle mass peak? The answer may surprise you.
  2. Do you have a “Stay Fat” or “Stay As You Are” strategy that keeps you stuck?
  3. And as the title of this post asks, “if calories and exercise are not controlling your weight, what is?” huh? huh? Gotta attend the webinar to find out. Or google it. Be that way!
  4. What is the actual cost of free radicals? Yes, they affect you, inside and out.
  5. If you want youthful skin, you have 9 actions under your control. How many of those 9 things are you doing, if any?
  6. Are you better off doing seated or standing exercises as you get older?
  7. Which gender averages more years (almost 9) spent in illness, especially in our older years?

Older, active woman on a swing

Choose One Action: Register or Regret

If you don’t want to be that person spending the last 8 to 9 years of your life ill and in pain, then register for this TransformAging Summit. (If you don’t want to be the caretaker for that person then our webinar series is for you and your loved one).  The sooner you take the steps to age actively, the better your upcoming years will be.

So step up to some more of those Fit Facts from the Summit, we say!

  • If you’re not losing fat, you’re losing muscle
  • Cardio makes you smaller, while resistance training training reshapes you
  • Did you know that each chronic condition you have reduces life expectancy by 1.8 years!?
  • We become more sensitive to carbs as we age, so need to decrease sugar and starch
  • Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger cues
  • Sleep resets hunger hormones, and decreases cortisol levels
  • As we age, we are eating too much, even though we may be eating less than in our younger years
  • Your plan for success needs to be at least as detailed as your plan for failure
  • You have a reason for NOT making change


In case you didn’t have a chance to read our post giving all the info about the TransformAging Webinar, we’ll list the six video titles again so you can see just how tremendous this FREE (on 6/03 & 6/04) summit is:

  1. (Re)Starting Fitness After 50 (This one’s ours)
  2. Resistance Training: Your After-50 Easy Weight Management Program (Debra Atkinson MS)
  3. Midlife Weight Gain, Hormones, and Menopot: Strategies for Staying Slim Without Losing Your Sanity (Tamara Grand PhD)
  4. Supplementation and Skincare to Transform Aging Inside & Out: What’s Really Needed? (Mo Hagan BSc PT)
  5. Age Be Damned: 7 Dimensions of Active Aging (Colin Milner)
  6. Never Grow Old! Strategies for Making the NEXT 50 years BETTER than the first! (Dan Ritchie, Phd and Cody Sipe Phd)

Register Right Here – It Costs you $000000 (that’s zero multiplied) for the live broadcast this Wednesday and Thursday at 2:30 pm PDT. And don’t worry – if you cannot watch all six at their original broadcast times, you can get them later for a teeny, tiny payment that’s lower than you’d pay for just one of the workouts Debra Atkinson provides in her session. And put all the money you just saved into the vacation kitty for your future dream trip to Rancho la Puerta spa, a health and wellness retreat just east of San Diego. The Perfect Place for People who want to age actively!

Thank you Rancho la Puerta for sponsoring our TransformAging Summit! You sure know how to make a person feel good!Rancho la puertaNow go register. Listen at your leisure.

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


Tips to Get Your Butt to the Gym

Boom- Get it Done (Alexandra)

Boom! Get ‘er Done!

Dear Fun and Fit/ Kymberly and Alexandra: I am a member at the local YMCA, (but) have yet to establish a regular time to go. Time gets away from me. (I) would appreciate tips on establishing a routine. Thx, Vickie

You go to bed promising yourself that Tomorrow, yes Tomorrow, you will start that exercise program you’ve been putting off. You wake up in the morning with good intentions. Yes, the day looms ahead with lots of opportunities to work in a workout. Then that day gets busier and busier as it progresses, though you reassure yourself that you still have time. Habits and routines take over — routines that don’t include getting to your club. You mean to exercise, but when evening rolls around, you are too tired/ busy/ overloaded to move. Where did the day go? Forget hitting the mat, gym, or trails. What takes a hit instead is your psyche as negative self-talk wheedles its way into your thoughts. But you halt the self-recrimination by making a promise to yourself: Tomorrow, yes Tomorrow, you will start that exercise routine. Rinse and repeat.

We hear you, Vickie and obey! Below are specific, practical tips for establishing a routine that improves your odds to create and sustain regular exercise. These tips are guaranteed to work. And by that we mean, guaranteed only if you actually act on them. No Do, No Presto Change-o. In other words, our tips work if you do.

1. Start Small (and this is a biggie!)Small Steps Lead to Big Changes

Set yourself up for success by taking small steps. If heading to the gym for an hour is daunting, set your mind to popping in for just 10 or 15 minutes. Give yourself permission to attend a 30, not 60 minute class. Or grab a mat and do just 5 exercises and head back out the door – exercise done for day one.  Allow yourself to get on cardio equipment for just 10 minutes, or until you sweat, or for just two rounds of commercials as you watch the built-in tv. The point is to aim for a 2 or 3 on the commitment scale, instead of a 9 or 10. If you hit that 2 or anything higher, you have notched a positive result. If you think you have to go full out or forget it, then anything less than a 9 or 10 equates mentally with failure. Who likes that? Not I, said the little red hen. The famous Fun and Fit advice? What is the LEAST you are willing to do at your YMCA? Aim low and get ‘er done. (Click this link THEN COME BACK TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST for more about how and why to establish the least possible: How to Start an Exercise Program? Do the Least Possible)

2. Schedule Your Workouts

Not creative; not new; not patented, copyrighted, nor trademarked by us. But effective. Whatever calendar system you use — online, an app, paper and pen, a wall calendar you got free from that new business down the street — schedule gym time. In ink. With a nice check-off box next to it. It’s a visual promise to yourself you are less likely to break.  Oh, and don’t go all crazy and overschedule yourself. See Tip One.

3. Post Reminders

Whatever system annoys, reminds, or motivates you best, employ it. Set notifications on your smart phone. Post sticky notes on the wheel of your car. Leave reminders where you’ll see or hear them. Have a family member call you. Nag, nag, nag.

4. Set Out Your Workout Clothes

Get your gear into gear. If your gym bag is packed and set where you have to trip over it to get out the door, you are more likely to make it to the club. Or keep an outfit in the car. Perhaps lay out your workout clothes so you are ready to put them on first thing in the morning. Personally I find a new outfit really motivating. Nothing like wanting to break in a new top to get me to group fitness class!

5. Tell a Friend

We break promises to ourselves all the time. Those are usually called New Year’s Resolutions. All year. But will you break a promise to a friend? Even if your friend is not going to meet you at the club, she has now heard your promise and can help hold you accountable. Call, email, text – whatever it takes, commit to another person.

6. Reward Yourself

Positive reinforcement is a powerful force all right, so harness that. Made it to the gym for half a class? Buy yourself that new pair of leggings. Worked out three days in a week? Bust out the bottle of bubbly you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Whatever makes you happy, use that as a reward. Acknowledge your successes. For example, if you enjoy reading blogs in the morning, tell yourself that you will read just one (ours!) before exercising, but will relish and revel in reading 3 more as soon as you get back from the Y.

7what exercisers know image. Learn How Your Mind Works to Form Good Habits

Read our other posts on the subject to clarify the values, motives, and internal rewards that drive you to exercise.

What Do Exercisers Know that Non-Exercisers Don’t

Replace Health Cares with Healthy Habits

4 Stages to Healthier Habits

Nothing like a Master’s Degree in Counseling for Alexandra to share great suggestions on forming good habits! Establishing a successful routine is under your control when you are armed with good info. And these links will take you to good info. The tips above will take you to the gym! More literally, you and your car will take you there.  Vroom, vroom. Off you go!

TransformAging webinarPS Since we’re talking about setting your calendar, mark yours now for June 3-4. Attend our free webinar series, TransformAging. To get details and transform to a more active you, subscribe now if you are not a current subscriber.

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA



Your Medical Condition Pisses Me Off

Your Medical Condition Pisses Me Off

A family member had a thalamic stroke in September, then a TIA (transient ischemic attack) in March, followed by a combination atrial fibrillation and cerebellum stroke in April. These exciting events changed a person who was active, busy, smart and fairly easygoing into someone who has serious memory issues, cannot walk, cannot swallow (which means a stomach tube), is cranky a lot, and will require 24-hour supervision for a long while upon release from the rehab hospital. Are you envious yet?

I write this, not to feel sorry for myself, because I’m actually not, but to share some of the things I wish someone had told me about the non-medical implications of stroke. I would have been better prepared mentally if I’d known more than just the medical checklist. Maybe my experiences will help you if you’re ever in a similar position.

photo of a hairpin turn on a mountain road

Life Can Take Sharp, Unexpected Turns

You’ll Get Angry
At first, I was told the September stroke was due to obesity and plaque that broke off into the bloodstream. In other words, lifestyle. I discovered it’s entirely possible to simultaneously care about someone and be super pissed off. How dare he not bother to take care of himself, then put me in a position of having to take care of him? Why should I be a caretaker of someone who didn’t bother?
It now appears that the strokes were also related to an underlying heart issue, which helps me forgive, yet I still want to acknowledge that it’s probable (and permissible) that you’ll be pissed off. I haven’t taken it out on anyone, nor will I, yet I would have appreciated it if someone else in this sudden and unexpected role would have told to me plan on being angry. Be angry without guilt. But also be careful who you share your anger with. Not the patient, obviously. Not your children. And not any family members who will try to talk you out of your feelings or imply you’re a bad person. Friends who understand that it’s possible to be pissed, scared, loyal and responsible all at once are the best.

mountain brook

Let It Flow – the Anger, Guilt and Tears

You’ll Get Sad
Not just for all your loved one has lost, but for your losses too. There is a long, freaking list of losses – sleep, free time, vacations, the ability to come and go at will, companionship, future plans, income, hobbies, predictability, expectations, appreciation, ability to focus on kids and their events, help maintaining the household, illusions, independence, identity, and a lot more but my memory is shot from dealing with everything.
In addition to being sad for the person who’s had the stroke (or heart attack, etc.), you’ll feel sad for your kids too. Even with older kids, the illusion that their parent (or uncle/ aunt/ sibling) will always be around comes to a screeching halt. What do we want more than anything for our kids? To protect them and watch them lead happy lives. I’m sad I cannot protect them. I’m sad they’re unhappy and grieving and helpless. We tell our kids that we’ll always be there for them, and that lie keeps our illusions and theirs going. I told my 21-year-old, “I may be overwhelmed and tired, but I’m still your mom. I’m still here for you. I still have time for you. I have other things I can give up, as you are my priority.” And it made me sad that I had to say that, as our kids should be able to take our “momness” for granted.

You’ll Feel Guilty
No matter what you do, you’ll feel you haven’t done enough, spent enough time, been patient enough, researched enough, updated concerned family and friends quickly enough, written thank you letters to people who brought meals or gave rides– even taking time to sleep or relax will seem like “cheating.” Part of your brain will recognize that it’s impossible to do everything, but that other little nagging part will work on your guilt complex like a dachshund with a squeaky toy.
But you know what?! Let it go, and not in a “Frozen” way. Yes, you are standing while another is suffering, but there’s no rule of physics that says only one person can suffer at a time. You have also lost a lot, and it’s not disloyal or selfish to take time off for fun, or to sleep in, or accept help. Bottom line – if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you’re incapable of taking care of another. Besides, that would put you in a never-ending loop, as I just mentioned above that it’s normal to feel angry about someone else not taking good self-care. If you’re too exhausted to function well, someone else will have to step in and rescue you. I doubt you want that.

The martyr thing is a dead-end, and renders you useless. Yes, of course you will do everything you can, and it’s a given that you will provide compassionate care and handle the extra load. We all know someone who has been or is a caretaker, and we all admire them for their selflessness, right?! Speaking only for myself, I know I’m not selfless or selfish; I’m just a responsible person who tries to do the right thing.
And I think part of doing the right thing is saying that you are not alone if you end up angry, sad and guilt-ridden. It’s just part of the deal.

by Alexandra Williams, MA


How to Handle Weight Gain When You Suffer Loss

How to Handle Weight Gain When You Suffer Loss

White flowerWhite flowerWhite flowerDear Alexandra and Kymberly: I just lost my husband, Julian to cancer. Due to all the hospital appointments, my eating habits also got lost! I have put on a lot of weight, but feel so tired and lethargic I can’t get into the mood to do exercise. I have damage to my neck, knees, and lower back (due to a fall) plus my midriff and waist have become “large” and I have lost my waistline. At 69 years young this is depressing me. I am also worried about a “ledge” at the bottom of my tummy and scared it will be “resting” on the top of my legs when I sit down!!!

As well, I look after my 96 year young Mum, who has no balance anymore due to cancer and other problems. So she is only able very slowly to get from one room to another downstairs. I get to bed about 1:30am once my Mum’s medication kicks in and she falls asleep. She usually wakes me about 7am to go to the toilet, then goes back to bed until 10:00. (She is in a hospital bed in my living room so isn’t able to get up by herself). I have been looking after my Mum for 3 years and my husband for the last 2 and half, so have had little sleep etc. which may be the reason I feel tired. Since Julian died, I am still running around for Mum, but not doing the right things to lose the “middle” weight.

I need all the help I can get!! I appreciate other people’s input so have included my name. Kindest regards, Patricia of Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

Dear Patricia: Wow! Talk about the perfect storm for changes to your body, mood, and energy levels! We’re amazed and honored you have time to write to us for advice. Fortunately, we have some practical suggestions that may help you and other widows, post menopausal women, and caregivers gain energy and lose weight. (Check out what we told caregivers who wrote to us with similar concerns: A Workout Plan to Lose Weight When You Are a Caregiver)Exercisers vs non-Exerciserspicmonkey_image Exercisers vs non-Exercisers

First, Deal with Your Diet

  1. Get back to your (implied) healthier eating habits asap. To reduce pounds you have to focus more on calories in (food and drink) than out (exercise and movement). (Yes, we know the UK measures in pounds, just like we crazy North Americans across the pond). While exercise will help keep any lost pounds off, diet is what will jump start your weight loss in the first place.
  2. Try to eat at home as much as possible using ingredients instead of processed food that comes in packages.
  3. Start your day with breakfast, maybe right after you help your mom back to bed. Not knowing more about your eating habits makes it tough to give specific advice, but the above changes will start to whittle that waistline towards the worry-free zone.

Starlights at RanchStarlights at RanchStarlights at RanchStarlights at RanchStarlights at RanchSecond, Sleep More

  1. Find time to get more sleep. Whether you nap or adjust your nighttime sleeping schedule, you need to snooze between 7-8 hours per night in order to avoid more weight gain and to help drop what you’ve already put on. Doesn’t that seem counterintuitive AND too good to be true? In general, people who get fewer than 6 hours’ daily sleep tend to eat more as they are awake more. And hormones that regulate appetite are thrown into disarray with the sleep-deprived. Take a look at our post, 3 Stealth Saboteurs of Your Weight Loss to help you prioritize guilt-free naps or going back to bed briefly after breakfast. (That’s a lot of Bs in a row, right?)Meditating woman - artwork
  2. According to research from the University of Michigan, an extra hour of sleep each night can help you drop 14 pounds per year. Reading our past posts on the subject of sleep and stress (such as Do This if You Want to Get Fit, Lose Weight, Live Longer, and Destress) should not put you to sleep, however.
  3. If you cannot nap or extend your nighttime restoration hours, engage in short, daily bouts of mindfulness, meditation, or guided visualization. If you enter “Meditation” in our search bar you will find several posts on ways and whys to get started.

Third, Move to Manage Your Middle

  1. Doing a side plank on the Ranch bridgeFinally we get to our favorite part–Movement!! When you are sitting with your Mom/Mum, don’t sit! Stand, walk in place, go down the stairs then back up then back down then back up whenever you check on her. This last suggestion will take only an extra few minutes, especially if you add some speed to this action. Then you will also get some High Intensity Interval Training benefits (mentioned in Best Workouts to Burn Fat for Women Over 50).
  2. Doing a side plank on the Ranch bridgeKnowing how hard it is to get moving when tired, can you work in some strength training exercise early in the day? Early morning exercisers tend to be more consistent and successful with reaching their goals. Maybe some mornings you snatch a few more minutes of sleep after helping your mom go the bathroom; other mornings you do some lunges, push-ups, squats, and side- or knee-planks (easier on your back) before the day zaps your energy. Once you start moving more you will actually find your energy levels going up.
  3. If you watch tv with your mom, use the commercials as time to move. Walk in place; press yourself from from your chair, standing then sitting a few times; lie down and whip out a few ab exercises. If you know you are committing to just a few minutes during the ads you may be more able to find the energy to get restarted.
  4. When you are feeling particularly fatigued, ask yourself what the LEAST activity you could muster up is. Even a little bit of movement will propel you towards success. And a little success begets a little more success.
  5. As well, take a look at past posts of ours that offer solutions to the fat attracting combo of stress, eating habits gone awry, loss, insufficient sleep, and minimal movement.

If you have a weensy bit more time and energy, then click over go to our YouTube Channel where you can find exercises just right for your goals and capabilities.

Let us know how you fare and feel free to comment below, especially once others share their tips and support. We offer our condolences on your husband’s death.

TransformAging posterANNOUNCEMENTS: For more on restarting your fitness program, keep your eyes, ears, and mind open for our upcoming webinar, TransformAging. Coming in late May, handpicked experts in midlife wellness for women will offer practical solutions and the most relevant answers to popular questions on how to age better than any prior generation! Hosted by us at no cost to you!

Doing a side plank on the Ranch bridgeTransformAging 1

Webinar attendees will also be the first to get the details on our first ever, brand new, fit-tastic workout program specifically designed for women over 50 who want to (re)start active lives.


What Do Exercisers Know That Non-Exercisers Don’t?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

7 Secrets Exercisers Use to Motivate Themselves

Kymberly at Ranch in treeNashville bowling- AlexandraYou SAY you want to be more fit and active. You really MEAN to work out more. But somehow the days, weeks, months, dare we say “years” slip by and there you are — still intending to finally be more active but not actually doing much about it. Forget guilt, self-beratement, and worrying about having excuses that last longer than your most recent resolution.

What it is that regular exercisers have figured out that keeps them on track? More to the point, what can you learn from those ratfinks enlightened, fortunate individuals that will get you up and moving?

  1. Regular, committed exercisers have figured out the “why” behind their activity and linked it to their values. They don’t work out just to work out; they have a bigger purpose or goal driving them.
  2. Fit people have made movement a habit so they no longer need to exert extreme willpower in order to stay “on track.”
  3. Many (though certainly not all) movers and shakers do activities they enjoy.
  4. Exercisers know how they will feel after their activity and are able to remind themselves of the joy and satisfaction they’ll feel post workout.Alexandra on trail
  5. Active agers have found ways to account for excuses, such as not having enough time, being uncomfortable, or feeling too tired. Their movement experience confirms that they’ll have more energy, feel less fatigued, feel happier in their bodies, and prioritize workout time BECAUSE they exercise.
  6. Lifelong exercisers have tuned in and turned on to —— and this is a biggie! —— the benefits exercise brings beyond visual results. Sure, they also want to look great. But they get hooked on the internal, non-visible rewards of an active life. Because those benefits are so pervasive, exercisers are consistently being rewarded even when not in front of a mirror or on a scale.
  7. Active people surround themselves with others who are active. They seek out people who share their commitment to movement, even if it means tuning out inactive family members, coworkers, and “friends” who might sabotage their efforts.

(Like the chart I made? Please feel free to pin the heck out of it.)

what exercisers know image

Bonus Story and Quick Quiz Question about taking a magic fitness pill:

If you could take a magic pill (yes, one that tastes good, has no side effect, costs nothing, and is small) that instantly gave you the body measurements you want for the rest of your life, would you swallow it if it meant never being able to exercise again?

Behold the mighty Nashville statueEnter your comments below. Then read how this breaks down for others.

Non-exercisers grab for the gusto with a hearty “heck yeah, I’d swig that pill down! And what do you mean when you say ‘able to exercise?’ Don’t you mean ‘HAVE to exercise’?”

Exercisers break into two camps: most say “hmmm, tough choice, but ultimately I’d pass as the other benefits of exercise outweigh simply looking good. No magic pill for me, gracias”

The second camp of exercisers tries to negotiate: “any chance I could take that magic pill AND still work out regularly? Then I’d get the best of all options.”

Did you see that coming? Speaking of which, if you want to keep our active aging answers coming, be sure to subscribe. Now is a good time. Do it. Do it.


A Walk is as Good as a Run

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

More Mesa walk

Do Walk Away! And walk this way.

Are you a runner whose impact days are numbered? Or a walker who wonders whether you need to pick up the pace but really don’t want to?

Happy news for you non-joggers, former runners, and wanna be walkers who want a strong heart without the joint stress. Brisk walking may be as good for your heart health as a run.

Certainly walking isn’t as intense as running. However, both activities target similar muscle groups, which may be why results in improving heart health are so similar. Research suggests that the type of exercise may not be as important as how much you go, go go. So move forward; locomote; get your gait on!

Heart Smart Fun Fit Facts

Walking for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:

  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity.
  • Enhance mental well being. Think back to walks you’ve taken. Ever start out stressed and come home happy? Mood moment!
    Kila and Liberty on rock

    Walk? Run? We don’t care. Just take us out. Makes our dog hearts happy.

  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer. May not sound sexy, but avoiding disease is pretty important as we age, right?
  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See above. Combine it with the fact that women are at greater risk than men for heart disease and we might as well open that front door and get going.
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis. I want young personage bones and am willing to walk for them. And you?
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
  • Improve blood lipid profile. Make your doctor happy.
  • Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes. Have you heard that this is one of the fastest growing diseases in the US? Don’t contribute to this stat.

Want some easy, practical walking tips to get you started or rev you up more? Watch our short video on Walking for Weight Loss (and More). Then bust a move to our post Great Gait: 7 Steps to Better Walking to really get the most out of your walks.

Walk For Weight Loss (video)

Take a City Walking Tour

Why is my Lower Body in Pain?

The “Best” Pedometer

More Life and Pep in Your Step

Beach view for Kila and LibertyAnother Fun Fit Fact about walking is that for every hour you perambulate (just had to use that jaunty word), your life expectancy may increase by two hours.  Not only that, but a faster stride may also be a predictor of a longer life. (Convinced yet? Read our post Can Walking Really Get You to Your Fit Destination?)

Standing during Ranch walk break

Done with Run; Talk about Walk!

Of all the cardio exercise options out there, walking has the lowest dropout rate! It’s the easiest, most accessible, positive change you can make to improve your heart health. And the benefits are exponential. The more you walk, the greater your odds of lowering heart disease risk. What are you walking for?

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Exercises That Are Joint-Friendly for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Alexandra Williams, MA

pool classes are great on jointsDear Fun and Fit: Hi, ladies! I used to work out all of the time and then I was diagnosed with Felty’s Syndrome (a rare form of Rheumatoid Arthritis – RA) and I gave up for a long time. Between that and some other things going on in my life I haven’t worked out in 5 years! I’m over it and want to get back into it, but I am lost when it comes to finding something that I can actually do. I know I have to start all over again, but I need something that will not do more damage to my bones. My knees, shoulders, hands and feet are where I have the most problem. That and getting to a gym. Do you have some ideas of ways I can work out around the house, get in shape and get back to the old me before the old me is too old?

Hey Rena. My first inclination was to recommend aqua workouts, which are perfect for achy joints, but I already know that you don’t have a pool, so we’ll have to think of other options. Read the linked post anyway, as it also mentions other options that reduce joint stress, such as the elliptical trainer, Pilates and resistance training. As you cannot get to a gym (or beach), I’ll focus on in-home suggestions.

Felty’s Syndrome
For those unfamiliar with RA and Felty’s, classic symptoms include painful, stiff, swollen joints, most commonly the hands, arms and feet. White blood cell counts are very low, and fatigue is common, as is anemia (low red blood cell count).

Before giving suggestions for dealing with exercise and arthritis, I have a few questions.
* Has your doctor cleared you to work out, even at a minimal level
* What kind of range of motion do you have around your affected joints
* Do you have any equipment at home, such as tubes with handles, a recumbent bike, a mat, stability ball
* Is there a certain time of day, such as morning, when you are more comfortable
* Have you consulted with a nutrition expert to see which foods you might want to decrease or increase

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 1.17.42 PMSeated Elliptical Machine
Generally speaking, people with painful joints do well with equipment such as a seated elliptical machine (you can even get ones with gloves, in case your hands can’t grip well). Of course, these might be cost-prohibitive for you, so I’ll give you other options too.

Resistance Tubes
If you have enough grip strength to hold a tube handle, you can do a lot of resistance exercises with a tube. The yellow one provides the least resistance, so is the best place to start. The different colors indicate different levels of resistance, so choose accordingly. A colleague wrote a post for us a few years ago about exercising with tubes, which you might want to read.
I’ll also link you to two tube videos I did when I was recovering from foot surgery that might be helpful (and before I knew to turn my iPhone sideways when filming):
Seated Mid-Back Exercise
Chest Exercise yellow resistance tube

Seated on the Ball or Mat
As you don’t mention hip joint pain, maybe you can try some seated exercises. Our video post Seated Abs Exercise: Obliques Circle will help your core strength and possibly get you to work up a sweat too.

These are just a few of the many directions you can head as you look for comfortable exercises. And because I trust our own advice, I’ll encourage you to wander through our YouTube exercise videos (we have over 100), as they are designed for women our age, though not for any specific diagnosis, so choose the ones that resonate with you.

In the long run, I hope you can get to a pool. When I taught at the Rochester Athletic Club in Minnesota, they had an Aqua Joints program that was certified by the Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP). It was non-impact exercises in a warm water pool that helped improve range of motion, increase strength, and challenge endurance with low-level cardio conditioning. Maybe the AFAP has a similar class near you.

The true answer to your question is “It depends.” But these exercises should get you started in the right direction. One last post you might like to check out is “Six Practical Fitness Tips for Older Adults,” which shares some ways to modify for your specific needs.