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9

Poll results: What Motivates You to Work Out?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Leading balance move - Kymberly

Being Graceful or Just Aging with Energy?

Last month we posted two polls asking you to let us know your top fitness fears and motivators.  Wonder what the survey revealed? We certainly were curious to find out what gets you to exercise.  Click that link to access the full list of options.

Thanks and sweaty hugs to those who participated. You burned two calories just by clicking away. Of the roughly 135 entries recorded, the top vote getters of the surveys are below. The answers are listed with most popular leading off.

Poll Results 1: What Motivates You to Be Active? Top 5 ReasonsScreen Shot 2015-02-08 at 11.38.06 PM

  1. Have More Energy — this was heartening and surprising to see in the top spot. And it’s so true that exercise confers energy in abundance!
  2. Be Strong
  3. Age Gracefully*  What does this mean anyway? Look below as you’ll find some great definitions.
  4. Reduce Stress
  5. Minimize Risk of Illness or Disease

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 11.37.08 PMPoll Results 2: What Fears Do You Have Related to Your Body, Mind, and Aging? Top 6 Concerns

  1. Having to Stop or Reduce Activities I Now Enjoy
  2. Losing Independence
  3. Reducing Mental Faculties
  4. Losing Memory
  5. Dying Early From Illness or Disease
  6. Gaining Weight

What Does “Age Gracefully” Mean to You?

We confess that we offered the option “Age Gracefully” because so many midlife women identify with the phrase. As you’ll read in our post on getting older in a positive way, we don’t use this term too much ourselves.

But we really don’t know what aging gracefully means to you as it’s such a subjective phrase. So we asked online baby boomers to tell us their interpretation. (Yes, we did a highly subjective survey in Facebook. Worked for our purposes! We even got a few replies from men).

  • Midlife blogger, Joan Bickley Stommen defines aging gracefully as “continuing to be active and engaged, having a positive, upbeat attitude, and always having fun adventures to look forward to”  Is enjoying life no matter what and keeping your sense of awe and wonder one of your main reasons to work out?
  • Friend and fellow fitness pro, Ann Heizer succinctly says aging gracefully means “participating in all areas of your life functionally.”
  • From longtime friend, Kevin Moir we got a Hunter S. Thompson quote that turns “graceful” on its head:  “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”
  • “It means they have to pry my kiteboard out of my cold dead hands!” exclaims John Croteau whom we’ve known since first grade. Interesting how his definition also comes into play with the top fear from polltakers– not wanting to stop doing what you love.

Forget Aging Gracefully; Go For Gratefully

What do you think of this reworking of the phrase from Gigi Schilling, over at Over Fifty & Irresistible! in Facebook?

Gigi prefers to age gratefully instead of gracefully. “Aging gracefully is a bit demeaning to me. I prefer to age GRATEFULLY even though I also believe that GRACE is a must in everyone’s life at any age.”

pic of three Boomer friends

Friends Keep You Foxy Forever

Alexandra here to say that no-one told me I was supposed to age “gracefully.” In fact, I wasn’t even aware that I was “supposed” to age in any manner at all. Whatever the expectations were for my parents, they no longer apply. We are the generation that grew up being called “Foxy Ladies,” so I’m sticking with that self-concept and being clever as a fox. In other words, I’m using my mind every day to motivate my body to move so that all the Silver Foxes will be motivated to call me Foxy Lady when I’m 80. All it takes is a smile and confidence (and some knee surgery here and there). Survey that!!

Survey Summary

Overall, the results indicate that we boomers most fear losing our faculties and function. We are motivated by how we feel and function much more than how we look. Being hale and hearty ranks the highest. Now that’s what we call “Active Aging!”

Now please stay active and comment below. What’s your TOP numero uno reason for exercising?

1

Solving Knee Pain: What Is and Isn’t Working

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

What You do vs WHo You AreI knew I was facing at least two knee surgeries. What I wasn’t sure of was when. My plan was to stave off the knife and downtime for sometime in the next decade. (Read part one of my knee saga via this link). Turns out my right knee– the formerly “good” one– and two orthopedists have a different, sooner, hustle up, and “get the surgery over with” plan.

All the knee rehab in Santa Barbara is not going to repair two torn menisci. (I tore them teaching my Forever Fit Cardio class. I think the left knee got fed up pulling the load for the right, arthritic one and fired itself from overachiever duty mid-mambo).

Bad Timing of Rest vs Action

However the knee rehab and other protocols I have been trying ARE helping address the osteoarthritis. I am learning more every day about what a lifetime of being active, teaching fitness, and having a high pain threshold can do to knee joints. That last aspect — having a high pain threshold — does not pair well with thinking I can tough out any pain or solve swelling with ice and movement then ice and movement then ice and movement. Did you see the word “rest” anywhere in there? I kinda skipped that phase. Yeah, that lying around, not doing cardio and not teaching exercise part is hard for me. I fear that rest will lead to lethargy and the start of the end. And I don’t want freedom of movement to end. Anyway, ……

If you are also suffering from knee pain or wanting to avoid having knee issues, then limp along with me through some 7 discoveries.

  1. Straighten KneesSimple habits may be making your knees worse. For example, when sitting, do you tuck your legs under your chair? Oops. According to Rick Kaselj’s Fix My Knee Pain program (which I am following and encourage you to buy and try as well), those of us with knee problems are better served to extend our legs when sitting. So simple, but I had not known that!
  2. Physical therapy really does help … if you actually do the exercises! When I am at the physical therapist’s I overhear other patients through the non-soundproof curtains. Almost everyone in the areas next to me confesses to not keeping up with their rehab homework. I have been super faithful about doing my PT every day. While PT cannot heal the menisci tears, it does help with all the surrounding structures. For sure it is helping both with the current symptoms AND the causes. Knowing the causes of my knee issues is critical as I don’t want to go through surgery to repeat bad patterns.
  3. The chondroitin powder I am taking does not seem to be doing much. Everyone else I talk to swears by some sort of glucosamine or chondroitin. I will give this approach another month, then reasses.
  4. Indoor cycling as a substitute for step class is hit and miss. Sometimes I can ride and ride with no downside. Other times, my knee starts to hurt in minutes and swells up. Yes, I keep the tension low both times. Staying motivated to cycle on my own is hard for me as I prefer to work out with people, cues, and group energy.
  5. 20140829_115158Pool activities are Sah-weeet! When Alexandra and I were presenting wellness sessions at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite last weekend, I put myself through my own aerobic workouts in their pool. I got to go for it without aggravating my joints. So happy! Note to world – aqua aerobics is not a little old lady workout! It’s a way to add intensity without impact. And thanks to a nice neighbor who has a pool and generous heart, I am going to implement more water works … once her pool is a leeetle warmer.
  6. Water is your joints’ friend. Drink lots.

Sitting By Choice or By Necessity

My hope is to get this arthroscopic procedure scheduled asap, so I can get back at it asap! (Do you hear me, insurance people. Get those approvals rolling, please!). When the doctor told me I could stand for only 10 minutes per hour, I had to rethink my whole mindset. As a fitness professional, I know our nation sits too much and moves too little. But we all tend to be around those who are like us – similar values, habits, activities. (Hot tip — if you want to be more active, hang around active people). So I don’t interact with too many sedentary people. I have to admit, these two weeks of limited, painful movement is not making me more compassionate. It’s making me more uncomprehending of those who can move but choose not to.

Oh, and tip 7strengthen both your core and your glutes if you want to help your knees. Thinking that quad strength alone will protect those needy knees is too limited.

ABC: Abs, Butt, Core

flyer of K and A's ABC class in Santa BarbaraWhich is such a good way to segue into an invitation to those of you who will be in Santa Barbara this weekend, Jan 31, 2015. Alexandra and I are leading a free ABC: Abs, Butt, Core workout 10:00am at the Paseo Nuevo mall, sponsored by Lorna Jane activewear. Not only will you get to do a fun, effective, knee happy workout with us, but also you get a discount on LJ wear, and healthy snacks. And someone is going home with a prize!

7

Fun + Fit + Midlife = Functional Aging Specialists

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Feel Like Super Woman

Ready to Function Like a Super Woman?

Want to put some Function into your Fitness, while having Fun? So do we! Specifically, we want to bring you the biggest bang for your baby boomer best body buck. That means upping our game when it comes to offering exercise advice that helps you age actively.

Therefore we are embarking on a course culminating in us becoming certified Functional Aging Specialists. Hard to make that certification sound sexaaaay, but it is! And you may increase your sexy sass too if you take our advice based on what we learn. This credential is designed to be the “ultimate mark of distinction for fitness professionals” wanting to work with the over 50 gang, crowd, party people!  The goal of the curriculum is to maximize physical function for mature adults.  We already know how to handle immature adults. Ah ha ha aha.

Functional Fintess Program

Never Grow Lame! Function Well with Us!

You may be asking “What is Functional Training and how is it different from traditional workouts?” Um, you were asking, right? Just say “yes.”

“Functional Training” Means What Exactly?

Functional fitness trains your body for the activities of daily life. Another way to think of it is focusing your exercise efforts on Movement, NOT Muscles. How does your workout translate to making your work, hobbies, daily tasks, leisure activities, and occupation easier, better, and more comfortable?

Bicep curls, triceps extensions, and bicycle crunches certainly have a place in the exercise world. But as we age, moves that allow us to maintain (maybe expand?) our physical capabilities become more relevant. Enticing even! We’re talking Quality of Life here, Boom Chicka Boomers and cohorts! Let’s avoid “boomeritis” and move in ways that support the life we’d like to become accustomed to. Can you step over big obstacles on the ground, for example?

Is National Celebrity Status as Baby Boomer Fitness Pros Too Much to Ask?

K and A at Tenaya Lodge cooking class

We think we’re the “Its”

We energetically share that we want to be the IT girls when you think of fitness and baby boomers. Nationally, globally, intergalactically.: K and A = top fitness sources for over 50 active aging advice pros. Please wish us luck and good study habits as we launch into the 18 module program that has a timed test and a spiffy looking piece of paper with a gold stamp on it at the end. The certification program — offered by Drs. Cody Sipe and Dan Ritchie of the Functional Aging Institute (FAI) — takes up to 6 months to complete. Since we are overachievers who make the top 10ish percent possible, we plan to finish in halfish that time. (Read our About Us page if you want to peel back the curtain on our other qualifications).

Are You Joining Us As We Go From Special to Specialized?

Kymberly holding her dog

No dogging it! Get functionally strong

Functional fitness fanatics (and the FAI) declare that If you move better, you feel better. And when you feel better, you look better. And, Daaaahlinks, You Look Marvelous! Or you will when we’re finished with you … and our certification program! Yup, we are going from being Special to Specialized Functional Aging Pros and you are coming with us. Right?

PS Comment below if you know whom we are paraphrasing about looking Maah-vah-lous! Reveal your true midlife status.

 

37

Knee Pain? Just Say No … Didn’t Work

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Knee Surgeries? Duck, Duck, Goose

inflamed footAccording to two doctors, I need three separate joint surgeries in 2015. My plan is to have zero. And there you have one of my primary New Year’s goals: to try all non-invasive options to rehab both knees and my foot. (Yes, for those of you who have been reading our blog for awhile, that identical twis sis of mine had left toe surgery for the same issue I now have on the right).

Over the next few months look for occasional posts that chronicle my efforts to reduce knee pain and get my active life back. My hope is that my successes, methods, and discoveries help those of you with similar pain.

Any other baby boomers out there with knee, toe, or other joint-related issues? Is osteoarthritis interfering with your life plan for active aging? This was not supposed to happen to me!! I want my life to expand with age, time, income, and experience, not contract.  After depositing in the exercise bank for more than 35 years, I was looking forward to withdrawing more movement, action, and adventure!

Poolside press up

No knees holding me back here..

Lakeside press up

Nor here

Kymberly presses up in CO

Nope, not here either.

After a physically challenging year with chronic pain and the ability to move less and less, it’s time to face reality: ignoring my knee and foot problems and powering through painful workouts just isn’t working any more. Maybe it never was, but I did keep teaching group exercise classes and walking my dog every day! Until a few weeks ago when I tore two menisci in my right knee — the “good” knee. The one that did not have two replacement surgeries already.

Do You Kneed This? I Do, Dang It!

Sooo, I am now starting several new approaches to get my athletic, energetic, comfortable giddy up gait back. These programs and methods include:

  • Starting Physical Therapy – traditional, medical model, science-based, personalized. Started two days ago and already feel optimistic. For one, my left knee is again smaller than my head. So long super sized swelling!
  • Following the Knee Injury Solution developed and offered via videos and written instruction by specialist Rick Kaselj – known and trusted fitness pro, colleague in the fitness industry, inexpensive program, easy to do at home. If you are interested to try his knee rehab program yourself, click the link. Low price, good value!
  • Performing stretches and movement tasks from Move Your DNA, a book by Katy Bowman, MS that looks at the subtle, yet important ways we need to rethink “exercise” and focus on “movement.”
  • Eating fewer foods that incite inflammation – waah haa as this will be the tough area for me.
  • Eating more foods that reduce inflammation – can and will do! For one, the Skinnylicious book Alexandra and I discovered will help with this as will the Knee Injury Solution program. Check out the cookbook by clicking the Skinnylicious link or by reading our post, Fitness, Weight Loss, and Nutrition in 2015.
  • Using glucosamine powder and homeopathic gel suggested by my chiropractor.
  • Getting on my husband’s spinning cycle daily to replace the other cardio activities I have had to cut back on. Low impact, medium intensity.

Doctor, Doctor, I Declare

Kymberly's foot points to a tiget track

Do Your Knees Track? (Do you see the tiger track my foot points to? Do you like my word play?) Oh Meow!

Whew! That’s a lot to take on. But I am determined and frankly, scared enough to try whatever it takes to get my walking and exercising juju back. My doctors have been great about listening to me and working with me to develop protocols to push off surgeries. Yet, my goal is to do MORE once I can walk again pain- and swelling-free. They keep trying to talk me into doing LESS, both now and post any surgery.

Other methods I have tried over the last two years have helped to a degree. I think those efforts gained me extra workouts and managed the pain. But not enough to prevent the recent downturns and tears. Read what I already implemented as you might want in on some o’ dat! Pain Free Movement in 2013

So strap in if you are interested to find out what works and what does not in my 2015 knee and foot joint reclamation project.

Affiliate disclosure: If you buy the Skinnylicious recipe book or Knee Rehab program through our links, we earn a few dollars at no added cost to you. Of course our main motive is to find, test, and curate the products and services best for active women over 50. 

3

Exercise Advice Depends on Goal: Test Your Knowledge

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

20140828_075500Can you match the exercise statement below to its correct goal? Ever seem confused, overwhelmed, or downright cranky at what appears to be contradictory workout advice? It could be simply making sure you know what your primary exercise purpose is. Then you can select the proper solution to address that priority.

Take Our Mix and Match Test

All of the following, seemingly contradictory statements are true … depending on …. your goal. Ready to mix and match with more style than when you are in a Macy’s dressing room? GO! (Answers at the end of the post).  And when you see a link, click on it for more detailed scoop on each action and benefit.

Go for Action with Go To AdviceIMG_4997

A. Cardio training – of any type — is best.

B. Strength training is more critical than cardio activity, especially for baby boomer women.

C. As you enter midlife, you need to incorporate 7 specific movement habits into your cardio workouts to get the best results.

D. Accumulate at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic activity.

E. As few as 10 minutes of high intensity training per day is sufficient.

F. Make sure to include resistance training, aerobic exercise, and stretching in your workout program at least 2-3 times per week.

G. Aim first for Amount of movement; Next for Type of activity; then for Intensity of exercise level

H. Go as long as you can, as hard as you can, as often as you can.

Given Which Goal?

20140701_190809

Which numbered goal below goes with which lettered advice above?

  1. Burn calories and improve overall health – minimize risk of disease and illness – at any age.
  2. Boost metabolism and maintain function (ability to continue daily tasks and activities) and minimize risk of falling, especially post age 60.
  3. Enhance brain power, improve memory, and stave off cognitive decline.
  4. Increase life expectancy, improve cognitive skills, reduce the incidence of chronic disease and disabilities.
  5. Maintain fitness level if you are already fit.
  6. Achieve general fitness – defined as having lean body mass, minimal stored fat, good endurance, flexibility, and muscular strength.
  7. Keep lost weight off
  8. Prevent weight gain; lose weight, keep lost weight off – the trifecta. Ba da bing! Click the links to read about Fat Loss and more.

Bottom line if you forget everything? (Well, that means you aren’t performing any cardio, because you just read that cardio enhances memory). Anyway, if nothing else, simply remember that doing something is almost always better than doing nothing when it comes to accruing health benefits. And the more fitness benefits you want out of your movement, the more frequency, attention, and effort you have to commit to.IMG_4785

Commit to follow us, up hill, down dale, over the pale. Subscribe now if you haven’t yet, and get FREE our booklet, 34 Guilt Free Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain. Get insider fitness advice all year!

ANSWERS: A1, B2, C3, D4, E5, F6, G7, H8 Yeah, I made it easy for you … and for me. How did you score? You are a winner no matter what, as you now know more about this subject than most US adults.

Alexandra wants to win the Modenus/ Ambiente Frankfurt Holiday Shop Window contest, which would mean a trip to Frankfurt to share the latest in Dining, Living and Giving with you, so please take two seconds to click here and vote for her photo. Make her holiday! (Ends Friday, Dec. 19 at 2pm PST). Thanks!

2

A Peek Into Vegan Living with Attila Hildmann

Alexandra Williams, MA

Knowing I’m a vegetarian and fitness pro, a P.R. friend of mine recently sent me two books by Europe’s top-selling (almost 1 million copies) cookbook author, Attila Hildmann. The books are “Vegan for Fun” and “Vegan for Fit.”

Vegan for Fun by Attila HildmannVegan for Fit by Attila Hildmann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was a bit hesitant to accept them at first, as we are extremely picky discerning when it comes to recommending lifestyle philosophies. After looking through both books, I can see why Hildmann is so popular. He isn’t a zealot, yet shares his passion. He details how and why he became a vegan in a straightforward way that feels inviting rather than browbeating. The best part? He agrees with so much of what we say! Hahahaha. Don’t we all think someone is clever when their philosophies are close to our own?

Main Selling Points for Me

Quotes such as, “Vegan for Fit isn’t a diet, but rather a healthy way of eating,” and “The recipes…weren’t in any way influenced by the food industry.” And my fitness favorites – “It doesn’t matter what shape you’re in; you can start now-even if you just walk around the block at your own pace… Starting slow and then building up is the key to success. My workout plan serves primarily to increase my feeling of well-being.”

He recognizes that vegans can be the worst advocates for veganism. For example, when Hildmann discusses his transition from vegetarianism to veganism, he acknowledges the “all or nothing” mentality that puts many people off.  “What makes me really sad is this ‘I’m a better vegan than you’ phenomenon.”

The people who took his 30-Day challenge have realistic Before and After pictures and results, and Hildmann includes the downsides as well as the upsides when he shares those results.

The actual recipes. Once he gained my respect, I was ready to check out the food. The pictures and ingredients looked really enticing and surprisingly achievable for me (based on the ingredients I keep in the house). I tried a few of them, and they were super tasty. Except for green bell peppers. I’ll never like green bell peppers.

picture of Tofu Bolognese from Attila Hildmann

Spaghetti with Tofu Bolognese

To get a well-rounded feel for Hildmann, I sent him some questions, which he answered in more detail than I was expecting. To put the interview into context, you should know that his dad’s death was a catalyst for his transformation from overweight, junk food eater to healthy chef.

Interview with Attila Hildmann

How old were you when your Dad’s death caused you to make a life change, and what was your life like prior to his death? Were you already into fitness?
I was 19 years old when I watched my father die of a heart attack. You can’t even imagine the pain I felt because I always looked up to my dad. Before it happened the doctors didn’t tell him to change his diet in a specific way; they prefered to open up his ribcage for open-heart surgery and after that was done, pump him full of pills to lower his cholesterol. I was also worried about myself because at that time I was severely overweight at 230 pounds and my cholesterol was critically high. I always loved sports, competed in Triathlon and swimming from an early age, but I always struggled with keeping my weight consistent. Yo-yo dieting was what I did, so the weight always came back in the off-season. And I loved what many young people love: burgers, fries, steak, chips and ice-cream. One day I went to the doctor for a check-up and he did a blood test. When he got the results he told me “Attila, if you keep eating what you’re eating, you’ll end up just like your father!” I had to change something so I did some research and cut out all the foods that contained cholesterol and worked myself up to a vegan diet. Instantly I felt better, my skin got clearer, my energy level went up, I had more power and the fat around my hips melted away. It was the best decision in my life!

Can you share some of the specific steps you took to get from the Before to the After?
The first step was to forget about the clichés that I had in my mind about healthy vegan eating. At first I was afraid about belonging to a group of hippies that eat nut roast for Christmas and preach to people that meat-is-murder. It all began in my head. And I just wanted to try it out as well, as I always like to challenge myself. But I fell into one trap that many new vegetarians and vegans fall into which is vegan junk food. Although it may not contain cholesterol, soy pudding, soy ice cream, fries with ketchup and vegan burgers with meat alternatives still do contain a lot of calories and I ate way too much of that in the beginning. Back in 2000 I hated vegetables. So first I learned how to cook so that I could make them tasty and delicious for myself. Working out is always a good idea but 80 percent of my weight loss success is due to sticking to a balanced vegan diet!

What do you recommend as the first thing someone should do who’s a carnivore, yet is curious about the benefits of being an occasional vegan?
You don’t have to go all the way and change your whole life! One vegan dish per week or a day is a great step toward a healthier life. It should be fun – don’t force yourself into something. If you start to like it, that’s great, and you can incorporate more vegan dishes into your diet plan. About 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year; that’s one out of four deaths. We have to start somewhere. Make baby steps and pat yourself on the back for doing them.

Why do you prefer veganism over vegetarianism?
At first I was a vegetarian, but even that increased my cholesterol level. I also like the aspect that you save lives by eating completely plant based — it is so good for the environment, climate and the planet! Vegan foods touch so many levels of my well-being, it’s absolutely incredible.

vegan dessert recipe by Attila Hildmann

Crumble in the Jungle

Do you have any simple recipes for people who are time-pressed?
I have a lot of easy, quick to make recipes in my books. You can order them on amazon.com. There are also free recipes on my website attilahildmann.com. I love to make vegetable pasta with a spiralizer and serve them with a quick Carbonara sauce made with almond butter, smoked tofu and parsley. And I looove sandwiches: whole wheat bread, lettuce, some hummus, roasted peppers and some pesto and you are good to go. It’s really that simple! Vegan cooking is even easier and less expensive than cooking with animal-based products!

I’m not trying to persuade anyone to become a vegan or buy these books; I’m just sharing my opinion. But if you are interested in knowing more, you might want to enter the giveaway, as we are giving away one copy of each.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

6

What Can You Do When Your Joints Ache and Holler?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Age ActivelyDo your joints ache to the point that you cannot do activities you’d like? Is pain making cardio exercise a challenge? Are your knee joints so arthritic that practically every move hurts them? We hear, feel, and empathize with your pain. (Really, we do. Read our post with more suggestions about reducing chronic joint and muscle pain)

To live more comfortably in your body, what can you do (besides whine, whimper, act curmudgeonly, and grab the stairwell when going down)?

Hang onto your bandage wraps and therapeutic creams as we dispense fit pro advice about ways to exercise cardiovascularly when your joints are HOLLERING!

Rancho poolKymberly: Swim

Alexandra: Swim

Kymberly: Hey, I said it first!

Alexandra: I thought it first!

K and A: We thought it at the same time. Whoa! Twin telepathy. ……. Ahh haa haaa made you look.

K: Now that you wonder whether we really do have twin telepathy, I can tell you what Alexandra was thinking. Nada. But I am thinking that getting into a pool and doing laps or taking aqua classes are the best options. The more of your body that is under water, the less stress on your joints. If pools are not a realistic option for whatever reason – no pool handy, hate to get wet, you only wear a bathing suit in the privacy of your bathtub–whatever–then we have to come up with more clever solutions.

A: Try cardio machines that take some of the load off your lower body joints, such as indoor cycling, rowing, elliptical machines (as opposed to stair steppers or treadmills). Take advantage of a group spin or row class. For one, you can have the instructor fit the equipment to you, so you are in protective alignment. You want to be sure that the seat of your cycle is set high enough for your leg length, for example. Nag, nag, nag.

K: Add in some resistance training or Pilates twice a week. Strengthen the muscles around painful joints so that the muscles bear the brunt of the load.

Kymberly after Ranch dance classPerhaps invest in a certified personal trainer or one-on-one licensed body worker (such as a Feldenkreis teacher,  CranioSacral therapist, or MELT trainer). Get your form, equipment settings, shoes, stretching plan all checked by a professional. And I don’t mean us. We’re way too busy bickering about who suggested the pool first.

A: Find a local gym with a “seniors” program (a euphemism for “anyone older than myself”) and take a group low-impact class. The variety of movement will decrease the potential for pain from repetitive stress. Unless you take my sister’s class – in which case your pain will increase tremendously.  Got the last word.

Does your event need education, motivation, and fit-elation? Call us to speak at (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Comfortably move your way to our YouTube channel for short videos that will improve your active aging adventure! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

9

4 Health and Fitness Strategies for Losing and Winning

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Evil statues, K and A in Thailand

Always professional, especially when supporting a good cause!

Recently Alexandra and I served as hosts for the AARP’s Care4YouToo Contest, designed to help caregivers focus on their own health and fitness. Participants from the AARP caregiving community revealed a lot about winning and losing! On the losing side — they reported losing weight and bad habits. On the winning side — not only did 7 people win prizes, but also participants exhibited winning behaviors that helped them become healthier and happier.

Caregivers have a particularly challenging task taking care of their own health. (More on this subject with solutions at this post on Caregiving and Exercise. Click to read.) Yet, as this contest revealed, they do find ways to help themselves as they help others.

What can we learn from their experiences that could help improve your health and well-being? Whether you wish to gain energy, drop fat, make healthier food choices, reduce stress, cut the need for medications, improve mood, sleep better — to name just a few goals – see whether the following advice works for you too.

1. Recognize that small steps lead to big changesSmall Steps; BIg Changes

As many baby boomers already know, caregiving itself is so overwhelming that tackling huge, unspecified goals such as “getting fit,” or “”eating better” are doomed as they become one more big item on the neverending “to do” list. Contest participants reported that small changes led to success. Some of their small steps?

  • Cutting portion sizes by a third
  • Walking in place while watching tv
  • Taking extra trips up and down the stairs to get in cardio and strength training
  • Going to bed half an hour earlier
  • Reducing coffee intake from 4 to 2 cups per day
  • Extending daily walks by 5 minutes
  • Wearing a fitness device to track movement
  • Connecting with at least one positive person — whether in person, on the phone, or online
  • Swapping out one soda for a glass of water

As one caregiver in the AARP caregiving community pointedly said: “even the smallest changes or the smallest actions done repeatedly will, over time, make measurable progress.  I am applying this to everything that is ‘out of control’, the mail, magazines, newspapers, clippings, laundry, grocery shopping, yardwork, housework, demands on my time.”

2. Acknowledge the positive changes and actions you have taken

Keep in mind that caregivers are among the most time pressed, life stressed, energy depressed group. (Oooh, do you like what I did with that sentence?) Nevertheless they were able to find and celebrate small successes. Being aware of progress, no matter how minor, inspired them to to continue with their efforts.. When the going got tough, the tough got going – with self-praise, a plan, a refocus on what they had managed to achieve.  So focus on what you have accomplished, rather than on how far you still have to go or temporary setbacks.

Khalil Gibran quote at Rancho la Puerta

“Our life is determined by the attitude we bring to it.” Kahlil Gibran

3. Use setbacks and bad situations as inspiration to shift in a healthier direction

Bad news often serves as a catalyst for change. Ideally you won’t have to face adversity to be inspired to make behavior changes for the better, as the following people reported.

  • “A few years back I weighed in at 225 lbs. Favorite food was a buffet! Found out I had Diabetes. (Made a lot of positive changes to my diet and movement habits).  All this happened in about 9 months. So it really is very simple to do…I did not say easy…just simple. Feeling like a million bucks.  Worth it.”
  • “Since my triglycerides were high on my last lab test, I quit drinking pop.    I am trying to drink a glass of water before my meals; especially lunch and dinner.”
  • “I would like to ELIMINATE at least half of the prescription medications I take . I have Lupus, Hypertension, and a Vitamin D Deficiency…including Cholesterol issues…I figure a lot of my issues could be solved with a MAJOR DIETARY CHANGE!  Cut out the butter, fried foods, and sweets. I’m intelligent and still got some of my ‘girly looks’…so I WILL improvise and find a way to make my diet SATISFYING. Utilizing the AARP TOOLS and CALCULATORS should make this diet overhaul an ENJOYABLE AND REWARDING CHALLENGE!.   WISH ME SUCCESS.”
Team Interval at Bacara

Both “I” and a “T” for Team are in “Community”  Go Team! Go!

4. Use the power of a community

Those who made positive and permanent changes tended to share their successes, challenges, and goals. They reached out for support when they needed it. They congratulated others who overcame pitfalls or reached milestones. They listed their own achievements.

  • “I just started volunteering.” It’s a win-win situation.”
  • “Help! Something needs to motivate me to begin regular exercise.  Caregiving is making me gain weight. Any advice?’
  • “Good for You! Happy that you can do Yoga. I can meditate, but I cannot do Yoga.”

Whether your support group involves two friends, your entire family, a bunch of work buddies, online strangers, a Facebook group (such as the ones we belong to on Facebook. Email us or add a comment if you want us to invite you into any of our online midlife women communities), or a structured event such as the AARP Care4TouToo contest, your odds of succeeding improve when you progress with others.

To paraphrase one of the winners of the AARP Care4YouToo contest, these strategies may not be easy, but they are simple. You CAN do it! Ask your community and they’ll tell you.

Read this post for more strategies on how to improve your health and lose weight when you have heavy demands on your time, emotions, energy, and resources.

Then book us to speak at your events: (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Improve your move when you go to our YouTube channel for short videos that will improve your active aging adventure! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

10

Do THIS if you want to Get Fit, Lose Weight, Live Longer, Destress

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Kymberlys lunge post at Rancho la puertaDo you ever feel confused or misdirected by all the fitness advice coming your way?

  • “Move moderately every day.”
  • “Go hard with your cardio just once or twice a week.”
  • “Exercise more.”
  • “Relax, sleep, and meditate more.”
  • “The best activity for the over 50 crowd is strength training.”
  • “Aerobic exercise is the best way to improve your brain and body, especially as you age.”

Aaaackk What’s a midlife, active ager personage to do when exercise advice seems so contradictory??!!

Well, it depends. Yes, it depends on your goals and priorities. All of the above comments are true — given a specific goal. So my goal with this post is to start with the outcome you might desire and offer an appropriate suggestion based on that desired result.  For example, one of you might have a primary goal to lose weight, while another of you might prioritize avoiding illness. The workout for the former person would include some high intensity, interval aerobic exercise once or twice a week. The protocol for the latter would be to walk casually every other day.

So let’s hop, skip, walk, sleep, and jump from goal to goal hoping you find what you are looking for along the way.  If you ever wanted to know “what’s the best fitness advice for me?” then find your goal below with the “best” tip after it. (Also check out our post on the BEST cardio exercise).

Alexandra exercisingGoal: Lose Weight

Trying to lose weight? Apparently Baby Boomers have the highest obesity rates of any age group – topping 35% in 17 states and 30% in 41 states.  Freak Out Fit Fact!!  If you do have a weight loss goal, try the following:

  • Do interval training. (Get more scoop on how to easily incorporate Interval Training here).
  • Eat meals on a regular basis. In general, eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. Then put no more than 5 hours between meals.
  • Look for ways to reduce stress. Taking even a 15 minute relaxation break can boost your metabolism — the rate at which your body burns calories.

And read our post on the the best ways to burn fat. Just promise not to be sitting down while reading about fat burning!

Goal: Reduce Stress

Reducing stress is the number two top motivator for working out according to a Concorde University study  (wondering what the number one motivator is? I’ll tell you at the end of the post). AARP Bulletin Jan-Feb 2014 shares that people 50-64 (uh, that’s us baby boomers again) feel more stressed out than people over 64.

Women and water sculpture at the RanchHow do you destress? If you are like many Americans, you turn to tv or online activities. However, people who use these methods also report not finding them helpful. Cognitive gap here readers! What is helpful for destressing? No surprise — physical activity. That’s pretty much ANY movement. How is that for good news and easy advice to follow? Do what you enjoy and you’ll be less stressed.  Read our post on reducing stress and be even more mellowed out. IDEA Fitness Journal June 2014

Goal: Reduce Blood Pressure

Need to reduce your blood pressure? Try isometric exercises. Those are the kind where your muscles are under tension without changing length or joint angle. Planks and wall sits are good examples as is a chest squeeze where you press the palms of your hands together in front of your chest and hold the resistance pressing hand to hand. Envision the “namaste” position. Now hold that and stick to it for 4 weeks. Yup, you are bringing your blood pressure down!  Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2014;89 [3], 327-34)

Goal: Increase Your Life Span

Let’s aim big here. Want to live longer (and better?) Then you must pump it up. Rest assured– you don’t have to go Arnie Schwarzie style. A UCLA study of men over 55 and women over 65 confirmed that more relative muscle mass leads to a longer life. And you’ll probably look and function better in that life too! My  fitness pro tip for you? Start in a strength training class led by a knowledgeable instructor . You’ll get exercise ideas, form feedback, safety cues, and interaction to make the experience more enjoyable and effective. American Journal of Medicine 2014

Plank pose on the mountainGoal: Better Balance, Flexibility, and a Happier Life

If you want more life satisfaction, improved psychological well-being, increased flexibility, and better dynamic balance – take Pilates lessons.  Mat classes brought benefits as did work on Pilates reformers and other specialized equipment. Find the Pilates training that you enjoy and reap those many benies! To increase your happiness even more, read our post on Getting Happier. IDEA Fitness Journal June 2014

Goal: Make Good Decisions

Want to make better decisions and smarter choices? Engage in 15 minutes of mindful meditation prior to making your decision. You will be able to focus more effectively on information available now (vs in the past or present) and to ignore other emotions, thoughts, issues that might get in the way of your ability to think rationally and clearly.  IDEA Fitness Journal June 2014

Difference between motivation and inspiration?Move to Improve

Of course, many more goals exist with endless good advice to achieve those specific goals. If we did not cover YOUR goal, put it in the comments with your question and we’ll get you the latest Fun Fit Facts and workout tips.  The main message Alexandra and I hope you get from this post is that no matter what your exercise goal is, moving will help. Move Often. Move to Improve!

And since you made it all the way to this point, you get to find out the Number One Reason US adults of all ages report as their main motive for working out:

To be toned and fit. Whatever that means to you. Yup.
Readers: What motivates you to exercise?

Not only are we movers, but also we are speakers. Book us to speak at your events: (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Improve your move when you go to our YouTube channel for short videos that will improve your active aging adventure! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

7

Breathe Life Into Yourself

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Kymberly and scarecrow at Rancho la Puerta

I’m not anxious about this masked marauder because I’m actively breathing. Pant pant

Want to reduce anxiety? Beat fatigue? Minimize stress? Lose weight without eating less or exercising more? Be more at peace with yourself? Maybe you simply want to find a $100 bill on the sidewalk. Yeah, me too. Perhaps you are thinking about leaping tall buildings in a single bound?  Don’t hold your breath on that last one. (Keep reading to know why this is a fiiiine word play.)

Maybe leaping and frolicking are not on your “to do, ta dum!” list, However, do pay attention to your breath, as you will reap a ton of benefits from “active breathing.” Soooo easy, we baby boomers can do it in our sleep. Oh, and you will sleep better too, once you breathe more actively. (A biggie for those “enjoying” menopause!)

Benefits of Active Breath

Quote from IDEA Hay House Transformation DayActive breathing simply means paying attention to your in- and exhalations. Notice your breathing patterns when you are sitting still, focusing on an activity, or moving rhythmically. (An example of moving rhythmically is syncing your breath with every 4th or so leg stride when walking. Inhale, walk walk walk walk; Exhale walk walk walk walk. Call this a “breathwalk”). The attention alone to your breath will elicit the relaxation response. Think of this attention as “meditation lite”  — and you have to spell it that way to really get the lite effect.

Meditation is Great — If You Actually Meditate

While I totally value and accept the benefits of meditation, the reality is that less than 10% of US adults meditate. But I am pretty sure that 100% of us breathe. Hmm, I need to fact check my sources on this stat. What with the zombie apocalypse and all, one can never be too sure.

Flow Chart of Flow Breath

Let’s do a quick flow chart: breathing actively induces the relaxation response. Becoming calmer minimizes inflammation that is stress-induced. So QUIT STRESSING OUT, I TELL YOU!!  Reducing inflammation decreases your odds of cardiovascular disease and improves your health overall. Lowering stress levels helps trigger your immune cell genes. Did you just sigh with relief or gasp with excitement? Way to breathe!

Rancho la Puerta arbor 2014

Walking and breathing and posing and holding in my abs while breathing

Breathe Away Depression, Pain, and Anxiety

Another benefit: Active breathing may aid you almost as much as meditation when it comes to reducing depression and pain. If you saw my post on the high incidence of chronic pain and trends in the fitness world, you’ll know that pain reduction is on a lot of people’s minds… and bodies. If you did not see this post, click the link and get on over there! Worth it, I tell you!
So breathe for your betterment. Free, convenient, portable, available in shallow, middling, and deep sizes. And oh so healthy!

We’re Holding Our Breath Until You Call

Does your event need education, motivation, and fit-elation? Call us and breathe heavily on the phone when you book us to speak: (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Comfortably move your way to our YouTube channel for short videos that will improve your active aging adventure! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.