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Category Archives for "I Want to Feel Better"
17

What Can You Do to Be Happy This Year? Besides Eating Tuna

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Resolve to Be Actively Happy

Enjoying quote of the day at Rancho la Puerta

Happy Is as Happy Thinks, Drinks, and Does

Did you set New Year’s Resolutions? Some years I do; some I don’t. Which got me to pondering why we consider changes and fresh starts each new year. “To become a better person” seems the obvious answer. But to what end?

What lies behind the desire to “improve,” “remake,” or “change” ourselves? Ultimately isn’t it a pursuit of happiness? “If only this or that changed, then I would be happy,” is the implication. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. At least for 2014.

2014 issue of Outside Magazine

Get Out?! Be Happy!

Meantime, both neuroscience and Outside magazine had the good timing to release a list of strategies that enhance happiness. Wouldn’t you know it, but the keys to being happy involve exercise, healthy eating habits, and playing (mostly outdoors).

If you are looking to add more happiness to 2014 then try adopting some of the the following habits. I listed the happy habits that I either liked the best, saw as easiest to implement, or validated my current values. To see the complete, original article read the January 2014 issue of Outside magazine.

Wake Early

Alarms set on iPhone

1) Cranky hour 2) Sleepy hour 3) Just right for “early.”

I was a little surprised that early risers are happier people until I thought of the days that my get up and go got up but good! I always feel better when I get a jump on the day. Sure, we need to get in our 7-8 hours of snoozing per night. But we also need our Vitamin D. So the more time awake during sunlight hours, the better our immune system. It’s hard to be happy when ill; it’s easier to greet the day with a high five when we’ve gotten a good night’s sleep followed by an early rise. This habit is one I am working towards. Pretty sure this is really a sneaky way for me to have to set another resolution — get to bed earlier than midnight so I can wake refreshed at 6:30 or 7:00am, not the 7:30 that feels so luxurious.

Drink Water

If you read my post, A Tale of Caffeine and Dehydration, then you already know being dehydrated makes us — ok, ME — irritable. One supposition is that our neurons detect dehydration and warn the parts of the brain that affect our mood. Not enough water? The neurons hit the “bad mood” button. You’ll know if you’ve drunk enough water to improve your mood if your pee is clear or pale yellow. Wheeeeee Peeeeeee!

Exercise With a Group

Bouldering at Lizard's Mouth

I’ll be happy when I get down safely and into my step class!

Imagine how happy I felt reading this as a group fitness instructor for the past 33 years. Want to work harder while feeling happier? Being part of a team or group increases your intensity and endorphin levels more than when you train alone. Could this be the year you try group exercise classes or continue through the year? I have space in my classes for you! Perhaps a master’s level team sport is in your near future.

Exercise Consistently

Cardio workouts are brain boosters; exercise in general reduces stress; even a few months of activity can reverse age-related memory impairment. Now that you are so smart, remember that regular, ongoing exercise rewires your brain for the better. Low stress, younger brain, and a good memory? That spells “H-A-P-P-Y better than a crossword puzzle clue if you ask me.

Eat Chocolate

Eat chocolate

Science from CocoaVia tells me cocoa flavanols help me live well!

Who cares the reasons?!*  The fact that cocoa flavanols are good for us (in moderate doses) is just plain old good news. Enough said.

* For those of you who want the reasons, hold on a minute while I lick the dark chocolate from my typing fingers. Basically, chocolate (specifically the flavanols) releases endorphins and calms us. Yes, it’s all in the mind. And mouth.

 Eat Mood Enhancing Foods

Dark green veggies, turkey, salmon, tuna, sunflower seeds, walnuts, black beans, — these and other foods high in tryptophan or glutamine positively affect your neurotransmitters. Get naturally high without medication! How many of you noticed that eating happy foods causes the opposite of being dehydrated?

Listen to Music

Photo bombing or singing at Glen Ivy Spa
Singing in My Pain, Just Singing in My Pain. Alexandra is Happy
Doing a Selfie Again

Who wants to hear me sing? Debatable whether this will enhance your mood. Hmmm. Or you can hear Alexandra tra la la in many of our past radio episodes. Also debatable about the effect. We can say that if you listen to music you like, you will pump out dopamine (happy hormones) faster than Ahhhnold Schwarzenegger pumped it up back in the day. Tunes you enjoy give you an emotional rush. I now await a music company sponsor for this tip.

Choose the Right Biological Parents

Yes, it’s true and I’d be amiss not to confirm that genetics plays a role in your disposition. If born rich, I’d be happy! Oh, wait. That’s not really what we’re talking about here. Inherited tendencies determine about one third of our happiness level. So quit griping if your mom and dad were negative Norman and Nellie. You have two thirds of the story to write yourself. Especially if you follow the tips above!

I know I’ll sure be happier if you:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

 

16

Naughty or Nice?: A Tale of Caffeine and Dehydration

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Skeleton from Rancho la Puerta

Dehydration Takes a Heavy Toll

Have liquids ever been your downfall? Specifically, NON-alcoholic ones. The other day I was ultra-cranky, especially at my daughter and husband. Of course it was all their fault. Or the stress of the holidays. Except the holiday season doesn’t really stress me out. The bad error my husband had made was bringing in wood to build a fire for Christmas Eve. My daughter had the nerve to ask me to stay up late to scratch her back (she just graduated from college and had flown home a few nights prior).

photo 3

My husband after I bit his head off. And torso. Yes, I was that cranky.

Feeling Irritable?

Snip, snap, I bit their heads off! Someone just earned a spot on the Naughty list and it wasn’t either of them. Normally I am cheerful and fairly even tempered (hush up Alexandra!) and consider it a Christmas gift to send my daughter to sleep by scratching her back and petting her hair. And I appreciate my husband tackling chores to make us more comfy in our new house.

So what was going on that sent me over the edge? Blaming menopause seemed like a convenient idea, but I knew it was not accurate. Fortunately I had enough self-awareness to realize something was unusual beyond fatigue. Have you ever been uncharacteristically moody without knowing quite why?

Caffeine Messes with Your Mind and Mood

Turns out I had entered a liquidy perfect storm. Caffeine was largely to blame. However I don’t drink coffee or sodas, so the caffeine answer was not obvious at first. But many of you might be coffee drinkers. Or soft drink imbibers. In fact, if you drink more than 3-4 cups a day or are particularly sensitive to caffeine then you may also turn into a Grinch.

Here’s the gig: Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, with one of its effects being to increase irritability. Other effects (courtesy of the Mayo Clinic) include:

  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Stomach upset
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors

Who Loves Thai Iced Tea? Look Out!

Me in attack mode
The Thai Tea Effect on Me

Did you know all that? I had not really paid attention to caffeine’s downsides as I rarely intake any. But I had developed a new habit, now broken. Since visiting Thailand in March with my mom and sister, I had come home with a new appreciation for Thai Iced Teas. (Read about our leech hike escapades in Thailand, how we sweat a lot in Thailand, and tips on what to pack when it’s 100 degrees out). At $3.50 to $4.00 per drink at the local Thai Donut and Bagel store (doesn’t everyone have a place like this nearby?), I had limited my indulgence to once a week. Until……. I discovered last week that the local Japanese specialty item shop sold Thai tea mix bags, ready to brew! Whoo hoo! Guess what? A $5.00 bag with the artificial yellowy-orange coloring already in it yields cup after delicious cup. For pennies per swig! Just boil water, add sugar and milk, and string me up like Christmas lights!

You see where this warning about caffeine is going. I went from one expensive cup per week of black tea cleverly disguised at Thai Iced Tea to three frugal and full cups in one day. The day I gave the gift of instant snapback to my family. But like George Clooney in Perfect Storm, I was headed into more troubled waters. Or lack of, as it turns out. Because now this liquid tale gets updated news relevant to all of us, whether we exercise or not; whether we take in caffeine or not.

Wat-er The Heck is Going On?

ALERT! Dehydration makes people IRRITABLE! CRANKY! WITCH ON WATERWHEELS! (women more than men, wouldn’t you know it).

Even mild dehydration can change your mood, ability to think straight, and energy level, according to two studies just conducted at the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory. Sure, we all know that too little water can cause headaches, fatigue, and yellow pee. But the bad mood angle is kinda new. Or at least it was to me.

water bottle and sky

Water Up!

Normally I have one water bottle in my car, one in my gym bag, another in the refrigerator, and one in the freezer. But the past few days, my schedule has been almost as out of whack as my mood, what with my daughter coming home, my husband on teaching break, and my sister out of town. I was running late wherever I went so kept neglecting to grab water.

Drink this: Get on the Nice List

Drink this: Be on the Nice List

We lose about a liter per day of water just through normal respiration. Add in walking dogs, teaching step class, sweating a lot, and installing flooring (just as a random example), and the need to replenish water becomes more critical. Yes, I had just ordered a double expressed dose of “frothy a lotte” at the mouth — too much caffeine and too little water.

You can avoid taking my journey and stay on the “Nice” list. If you find the holiday season challenges your normally calm, loving, low-stress mood, then keep caffeine down and water up! Say good-bye to unusually high levels of cranky-puss and drink a lot this season. Watery, decaf drinks. Take it from me, Or else!

Get on the Nice List all year when you:

Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog

Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

21

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

I Would Walk 500 Miles

The Proclaimers Sing the Benefits of Walking

I Would Walk 500 Miles

But would you walk 10,000 steps? (But first, walk your fingers to our subscription box and join our community plus grab your bonus. Enter your email then walk back here!)

By now you probably have heard the advice to walk at least 10,000 steps per day. I am on that mission now and, boy, it’s hard to get in all those steps day in and day out. Some days I am convinced the battery in my pedometer gave up the ghost. And that is after teaching a group fitness class and climbing the stairs to our new home several times.

Why do you walk? Your goal — fat burning? weight loss? weight maintenance? disease prevention? — will determine your pace, time, and frequency. Guidance and answers lie below, so keep reading (maybe as you walk in place). Kymberly's pedometer

What Will Walking Do For You?

I take my dog on her walk and still wonder — what will all this walking do for me? Is it sufficient to help me lose some of the menopause weight I put on? Or to keep my health at its excellent level? Do I need to walk faster, up and down hills to burn maximum calories? (For more on the relevance of high intensity interval exercise for people over 40, read this well-done post by our friend and colleague, Tamara Grand). Is a non-sweaty, beautiful, flat, beach mosey just as good? Will walking meet other fitness or emotional goals as well?

So I kicked into my fitness professional mode and did some digging through publications and research. Walking is still the number one most accessible, successful, popular way to exercise and stay active. Whether you choose to walk indoors on cardio equipment or at a mall, or outdoors on trails or through your neighborhood, the first and most critical key is to log steps. One foot in front of the other. 9,998, 9,999, 10,000!

Walk for Health

Hiking in Boulder, CO

Hiking in Boulder at Moderate Intensity, High Altitude, Strong Attitude!

Next step, (ha ha) is to prioritize your goals. That will determine the intensity your walk will take. Are you walking for health and longevity? To improve your mood and mental hardiness? Then getting in those 10,000 steps per day is the best advice. No need to worry about intensity, duration, style. In fact, any more walking than you are doing now will improve your health. Trading tv commercial time on the LazyBoy for marching in place until your show comes back on is a body and brain booster.

Walk to Keep Weight Off

What if weight maintenance is your goal? For once, research offers more info for women than men when it comes to specific suggestions on how much to walk for weight control. Turns out your age and gender affect the answer. (Just last week I told my group fitness class that the 10k minimum applied to all ages as far as I knew. Turns out I needed to know more. And now you know too!)

For women, recommended steps per day to stave off weight gain is broken down by age:

  • 18-40 12 000 steps per day (that’s what young pups get!)
  • 40-50 11,000
  • 50-60 10,000
  • 60+- 8,000

For men, it’s a little more generalized:

  • 18-50 12,000
  • 50+ 11,000

My professional opinion is that we need to move just as much, if not more as we age. (See our post Be Inspired to Age Actively). For our readers 60 years and up, why stop at 8,000 steps? Keep trying for 10k. You’ll get to more fun places!

Walk to Lose Weight

What if your goal is weight loss? Now we need to talk about intensity and getting the most out of your perambulations!

Walking at Rancho la Puerta

I averaged 14,000 steps per day at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Spa

First a Fun Fit Fact: (courtesy of Len Kravitz. PhD et al in “Walking Extravaganza,” IDEA Fitness Journal Oct 2013 pgs 40-47) Did you know your body has a natural or default walking speed that seems to be set to use fat as the optimal fuel source? Apparently our bodies naturally select a 2.8 mph walking pace as the most economical one. “Economical” in this case means expending the LEAST energy to sustain the activity. Not the pace for losing weight and burning max cals, but a great pace to using fat as fuel (vs carbos) and to stay motivated to keep moving moderately.

Moderate vs Brisk Intensity

What does “moderate” intensity mean though? If you walk about 100 steps per minute then you are cruising along at a moderate pace. Another way to calculate moderate intensity is to complete 3000 steps in 30 minutes. Interestingly enough — especially for those of you who prefer the elliptical machine, a pace as low as 1.7 mph with inclines of 6-9% still stimulates weight management (not LOSS, mind you).

Alexandra Walking stairs

“Do these stairs make me look sweaty?” Alexandra

However, we are talking about kicking it up yet another notch to use walking as a weight loss means. We’re now into the “brisk” walk category. That 2.8 mph has to shift into calorie overdrive to 3.5 mph. Zoom zoom! Yes, walk faster! Go uphills. HIt the incline button. Breathe and sweat with no breaks for instagramming selfies. (That was for my sister, the ultimate selfie picture taker who is famously quoted as saying she does not want to actually sweat when walking.)

If you are tempted to add ankle or hand weights in order to increase intensity — uh unh, no, stop right there. Listen to the experts:

NOT Recommended for Walkers

  • Carrying hand weights;
  • Wearing ankle weights.

Either may result in injury or repetitive stress syndrome. Nor do those added weights increase energy expenditure. Walkers tend to slow down just enough to account for the weights at the end of those limbs. Yes, risk goes up, benefits do not.

Recommended for Walkers

  • If you must strap on added weight, wear a weighted vest to increase energy expenditure. The external weight is distributed more evenly and is close to your core so not putting mechanical stress on your joints;
  • Accumulate 30-60 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise at least 5 days per week OR:
  • Get in 20-60 minutes per day of vigorous intensity activity at least 3 days per week. These guidelines come from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Another Fun Fit Fact

A pedometer study of an Old Order Amish community showed that the men averaged 18,000 steps per day and have an obesity rate of ZERO!! percent. Yes, 0%; The Amish women in this group averaged 14,000 steps per day with an obesity rate of just 4%.

Find More Fun Fit Facts, Walking Scoop, and Solutions for Wanna Be Walkers by clicking on any of these posts:

Walk Your Way to Weight Loss, Health, and Fitness

How to Walk a Half Marathon After Knee Surgery

Hike with the Leeches and Wildlife in Thailand (or not, as our story reveals

Walk This Way and We’ll Talk Your Way twice a week when you Subscribe to our blog. Right here. In the sidebar or pop up box. Join us to age actively. 

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

15

Aquasana Water Filter System Review & Giveaway

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Disclosure: We were each given a filter from Aquasana. All opinions in the following story and review are our own. Or each other’s. Or a function of twin telepathy.

Alexandra: Water is water is water is water. Or is it? We live at the top of a mountain, and our water comes from a well. That is not as exotic as it sounds. Luckily, Aquasana took pity on us and sent us each a water filter to test out.

Alexandra Tests the Under-Counter Water Filter

Look Ma, The Filter Works!

Look Ma, The Filter Works!

I chose the Aquasana 3-Stage Under Counter Water Filter because I was sick and tired of the mineral build-up that was getting into my tea. I love hot tea and chai (and even decaf coffee). I also love my tea kettle so much that I have taken the effort for years to scrape out the minerals that coat the inside of it. But I have always hated the little floaties that somehow managed to slip into my tea mug. Anyone who’s ever eaten with me knows that I abhor “bits.” I’ve taken a lot of teasing about it, but I just stick my fingers in my ears and avoid pomegranates and seeded grapes.

I didn’t expect a change in taste or feel from the water once my new filter was installed; I just wanted to be rid of the minerals. So I felt like it was Bonus Day at the Alexandra Ranch because the filtered water feels soft on my tongue (didn’t know water had “feelings, nothing more than feelings.”

It was super easy to install, especially as I didn’t actually do any of the work (houseful of guys has its advantages)! I only wish the spigot were a bit wider, as the water comes out fairly slowly. But I’m turning into a patient person, because I am just so dang happy to have filtered, SMOOTH water that is bit-free.

Kymberly Tests the Shower Filter

Santa Barbara harbor and coastline

Big Unfiltered Water  – Santa Barbara

Kymberly: While we live up a mountain, we have an ocean view (I know; don’t hate us because we’re in a beautiful place). As of two weeks ago I have a view of the Pacific Ocean. My hubster and I (finally!) moved into the house we have been building for the past eight and a half years. So long tiny, “temporary” cabin; hello new shower, new bathtub, new experience when washing off the sweat from my body after teaching group exercise classes.

Therefore when Aquasana offered me the option to test their shower filter, I asked the tile contractor to slap that grout on a little faster and finish the tub surround as I was eager to get sprinkled on in style. Installing the filter took the hubster exactly three minutes. He could have done it in one but I kept trying to read the directions to him. No tools required.

One key point in the Aquasana instructions is to expect initial spurts and squirts of dark minerals. Hot tip – take them at their word. Stand out of the way unless you want dark stuff in your hair. Guess I should follow the directions if I’m going to take the trouble to read them.

New shower with Aquasana filter

Installation Was Easy

Speaking of hair, the main benefit to the shower filter is what it does for my hair. It is noticeably softer in our new, sparkly, filtered shower than it was at the cabin. Same well source; different locks (anyone else get that word play? I am cracking myself up). Many midlife women report that their hair gets more brittle with age. Certainly I am dealing with more split ends with each passing birthday, However, I can honestly and fervently say that my hair feels as though it’s been deep conditioned given the filtered water. “But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?” Why, ‘tis the sun glinting off my soft hair as I enjoy my new house and free shower filter!

And there you have just another way to tell Alexandra and me apart. She quotes a schmaltzy song while I trippingly drop Shakespeare quotes from my quenched lips.

Good News to Make Your Eyes Water with Joy (but not bits)

Aquasana is giving away a water filter to one of you!! The winner can choose either the Over Counter, Under Counter or Shower Filter. We’ll randomly choose one winner for one of three Aquasana Water Filters. Winner must have a United States mailing address. We will notify the winner via email or social media. If the winner doesn’t claim the prize within 48 hours, we will randomly draw a new winner. The giveaway begins right now and ends at midnight November 15. Good luck!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

By the way, if you want to know More More More about water’s effects on you, click on our post, Water: What Is It Good For and Water: Chilled or Straight From the Pool Post-Exercise.

Don’t be a Drip. Be sure to:

A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

C) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

11

Exercising with Fibromyalgia

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Hula Hoop Workouts Ahead

Caution: Hula Hoopers at Play

Dear my fave twins: My goal is to get more fit. I want to build muscle and increase flexibility while being careful of my body because I have fibromyalgia. How do I pick which types of exercise will meet my goals, besides just alternating through them all? What that looks like for me right now is a brand-new-to-me yoga-pilates class, low-moderate intensity walks when it’s nice enough to do so, my exercise bike, and then at-home yoga, stretching, small dumbbells, and body weight exercises like crunches. I might want to try hula hooping or other classes at the gym where yoga is.  Kristine from Vancouver, WA

Kymberly: Looking at what research says about exercise and fibromyalgia, we almost couldn’t have put it better than you. Almost… cuz’ we will say it even spiffier and with more chutzpah experience.

Mind/Body Modes Help Alleviate Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Walking on a Garden Path

Take a Meditative Stroll

In short, the variety of exercise modes you are self-selecting is just about spot on for someone with your condition and fitness goals. Pilates and mind-body activities (such as yoga, Tai chi, qigong, and meditation) are particularly good for minimizing fibromyalgia pain. Your moderate intensity walks, hula hooping, and biking will meet your cardio need; the body and free weight workouts will target your muscle strength and endurance; while the stretching and yoga will help your flexibility. You have covered the three key categories for overall fitness with these activities. As long as you include something from each category at least twice a week you are in the effective and safe zone. Sounds like baseball all of a sudden. Yooooouuuuu’re SAFE!

Core Moves Without a Lot of Flexion Beat Out Crunches

Alexandra: I would suggest some other core exercise instead of the crunches. Since you want to be more fit (you didn’t mention wanting a certain “look” to the abs), you will gain more strength with other choices. For example, I refer you to two no-crunch posts we did (with video) that won’t put strain on your neck or head: No Head or Neck Strain I and No Head or Neck Strain II.  Click on both these videos and the links we added for more on the relationship between fibromyalgia, pain reduction, and exercise.

Low to Moderate Intensity is Best

You are smart to take on low to moderate intensity, as the Mayo Clinic has found that “short bouts of physical activity throughout the day may prove beneficial for fibromyalgia sufferers.” So when you are planning your workouts, you might consider sprinkling them throughout the day rather than doing everything at once. I wonder if knitting after some of your harder workouts would be a clever way to minimize any muscle/ ligament/ tendon pain simply by virtue of distracting you? That would be an interesting study, especially as research has already proven that people report lower levels of pain when their minds are elsewhere (I know I fantasized about killing my husband when I was in labor, heh heh heh).

Fitness Classes May Help More than Home Workouts

yoga pose at the beach

Yoga, then arm raises, then swimming. Alternate your workouts.

Kymberly: Fibromyalgia exercisers do well to achieve an intensity level where they are short of breath while still able to speak in short phrases. As for whether you should alternate between the types of workouts you mention, we say “absolutely!” If you are someone who likes variety, then you have the right mix for you. If you try a new activity such as hula hooping (is that even a verb? OK, let’s make it so) and you start to feel pain or fatigue related to your fibromyalgia, check with your medical pro, take a break from that mode, and go back to what did work for you. Your idea to attend classes is also particularly good as a limited study on the effects of Pilates on fibromyalgia suggested that exercise participants might adhere to their program under instructor supervision better than those working out at home. Group classes rule!

Alexandra and Kymberly take HIIT at FitSocial with Chris Freytag

Exercising with Fibro-My-Sistuh

Lastly, our all time favorite advice when it comes to what kind of exercise is best–whether directed to someone with fibromyalgia or not–is to do the types of workouts you will actually do. The more kinds you like, the better!

Pedestrian and Garden Path Photos courtesy of MorgueFile.com. 

Other photos courtesy of Kymberly

Got an event that could use a double bill presentation of movement and great fitness info?

A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

C) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

12

Why Do You Exercise? Is Looking Good Enough?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

FitBlogLA name tag

This personalized Meet and Tweet Greet was Sweet!

“The ultimate goal of working out is to be happy and healthy.” So opened fitness celebrity, Tony Horton of P90X fame at the FitBlogLA Meet and Tweet event I just attended courtesy of Fitness Magazine.

When Tony followed up that comment by reminding us that “one size exercise program does not fit all,” I started to trust his message a bit more. Known worldwide for his high intensity, high impact, high energy exercise programs, Tony was the last person I expected to advocate for moderation, caution, and mental flexibility. Yet here he was spreading the word that “our goal as fitness professionals and (healthy living) bloggers is to get more people into the movement game” while getting our ego out. He admitted up front that his program, or ANY high intensity workout is right for some, but not all. As baby boomers, we might want to go all out, but if our joints don’t agree, then we’re wise to modify. I, for one, am neither happy nor healthy when I push too hard and increase my knee pain. Sure, I love the benefits intense workouts offer, but not if I suffer long term.

Stick with me as I share a few more quotes and key comments from Tony’s talk on “The New Way to Work Out” that may elevate your happiness and healthiness levels! (For more on the effect your reasons for working out matter so much, also read our post Why You Want to Lose Weight Affects Your Success.

Why Do You Work Out?

Kymberly at FitBlogLA pool

Being strong enough to wear new outfits makes me happy!

What gets you into the movement game? Why do you exercise? If you are like most people I have taught and met in fitness classes over the last 34 years on 4 continents and online, you work out to … wait for it … wait for it… look better. You may also want to feel better, to live longer, to think more cogently — or reap a zillion other benefits that movement offers. But looking better continues to pop up as reason numero uno. If we ask ourselves why we want to look better, what lies beyond? To do what? To be what? To get what? I think Tony nailed it that we really seek a level of happiness. Oh Yes, I firmly believe active people are happier people.

What Scary Activity Will You Try?

Snowboarding in Lake tahoe

Not Yet Going Scary Fast

“Do scary things that won’t kill you,” challenged Tony, himself a baby boomer. What physical activity have you thought about doing that scares you a bit? For me, it was learning to snowboard. Going downhill fast still scares me. Doing plyo jump squats scares my knee into “cap” – tivity. Get it? Ha ah aha My sense of humor scares others, but not me.

Do You Prioritize Skill Over Number, Amount, Duration, Speed, Flash and Flair?

“Focus on getting better as opposed to going through the motions.” Tony’s emphasis on form and technique over pushing hard and damn the torpedoes was a welcome message I hope you take to heart. And to the gym. Doing more bad reps does not give you better results. Better form gets you to your happy place. In fact, your body will change when you focus on skill. Well, your body will change regardless (thanks again menopause!), but we’re talking changing for the better with mindful movement.

Remember the mantra from our post, Reducing Obesity — What Does and Doesn’t Work: Move More: Sit Less and you will be on your way to more happiness. Don’t Worry; Be Happy (Thanks Bobby McFerrin for getting that tune stuck in our heads).  Feel free to leave answers to the questions in our post down in the comment section.

Got an event that could use a twin pack of movement and great fitness info?

A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

C) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

 

27

Stress, Relaxation, Bread & Exercise

Alexandra Williams, MA
Politicians Know How to Create Stress

Politicians Know How to Create Stress

With the looming government shutdown and sequester sending the nation into a tailspin, it’s no surprise our collective stress levels are way up! Not good. High stress = faster aging + weight gain.

Reduce Stress – Relax

While we can write to our elected representatives (and click Like on Facebook political posts that match our positions), it’s also smart to find ways to reduce stress. It’s not physiologically possible to be stressed and relaxed simultaneously, so finding ways to relax can decrease our anxiety AND make us younger! Just a few short weeks ago, a study was released in The Lancet Oncology that found that eating a plant-based diet, moderate exercise and reducing stress might help reverse the aging process on a cellular level. Is that cool or what??!!

Gratuitous “Relax” video from Frankie Goes to Hollywood. It came out (haha, get the double entendre there?) in 1983, the same year I started teaching aerobics in Berlin.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyl5DlrsU90[/youtube] Although I love to read, I know myself well enough to realize that reading in the day also makes me feel guilty. I need to be DOING, not BEING in order to feel relaxed. Exercise is my job and my passion, so I definitely use exercise as a way to decrease stress. Yet my non-exercise relaxation, creative technique is to bake, especially bread. Sourdough, sweet, European, sandwich, herbed, whole wheat, baguettes – I love it all.

Bread Baking Class

I’ll let you decide if these pictures show how enjoyable it is to make bread. They are from a class I took at Le Pain Quotidien a few weeks ago as a special invited guest.

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We made baguettes, epi de blé, dinner rolls and whole wheat hazelnut raisin bread, plus they sent us home with rising dough. Sadly, I left mine in the car overnight and it rose so splendidly that it exploded all over the back seat. Instead of Epi de blé I had Epic de Boom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even with my years of baking, including my confidence using sourdough, I got a lot from the Ten Tips for Bread Baking they sent home with me. Every time I read the news about the political mess in D.C., I head to the kitchen for some baking therapy. Today it’s Sourdough Pizza Herb. Luckily for me, baking bread is how I relax, not eating bread, though I do love fresh bread.

Sourdough Pizza Herb Bread

Sourdough Pizza Herb Bread

With the October 17 deadline really close for the Treasury to run out of money to pay our nation’s debts, I think I’ll have to double my exercise and baking efforts, as I feel my stress levels rising.

What about you? How do you reduce stress?

 

 

 

Photo credits: Politicians:  Ephemeral Scraps via CreativeCommons.org. All others: Alexandra

 

A) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

B) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

C) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

D) Come on over for some delicious bread!

24

Sleep – How it Affects Your Weight, Brain & Skin

Alexandra Williams, MA

A recent trip to the Technogel Sleep Experience Center in Los Angeles got me thinking of the reasons we all need a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.

Sleep, perchance to dream...in Italian

Sleep, perchance to dream…in Italian

Weight Loss
Less than 6 hours of sleep can contribute to weight gain. According to researcher Dr. Michael Sivak, an extra hour of sleep each night can help you drop 14 pounds per year. Part of that is the 147 fewer calories you’ll take in during that hour you’re now asleep, and part of that is the relationship between the hormones leptin and ghrelin. More than 35 percent of American adults are obese and more than 28 percent sleep less than six hours a night, and the authors of a 15-year study found these two to be correlated.

Cognitive Function
Want to improve your memory, learning and creativity? Get 8-9 hours of sleep! A 2010 Harvard study discovered that those whose naps were long enough to enter REM sleep did 40% better on a test of creativity than nappers who didn’t get any REM sleep and non-nappers. That REM sleep gave the brain time and the ability to work creatively on various test problems. Further info on this is in our post “Sleep Your Way to a Better Brain & Body.”
I looked through some research Technogel has on their site regarding non-rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and foam versus gel mattresses, and learned something about the differences between light and deep sleep when it comes to muscle repair, memory, appetite suppressing/ increasing hormones, and concentration. It would seem skin and mattress temperature, plus bed comfort can assist or inhibit the quality of your sleep. It’s been extremely warm lately, so I know exactly how poorly I sleep when I’m hot!

I chose the Anatomic pillow for my golden locks

I chose the Anatomic pillow for my golden locks

Aging Skin
Less than two months ago, researchers from University Hospital Case Medical Center presented their evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship between lack of sleep and aging skin. They found that “poor sleep quality can accelerate signs of skin aging and weaken the skin’s ability to repair itself at night.” Poor quality sleepers showed increased signs of fine lines, uneven pigmentation, slackening of skin and reduced elasticity, while good quality sleepers recovered more efficiently from stressors such as sunburn, redness, and inflammation.

Pick a pillow, any pillow

Pick a pillow, any pillow

Technogel Sleep Experience Center
I know I’d like to be fit, smart and youthful looking, so I packed up my dreams and desires, and drove to Los Angeles to practice just one letter of the alphabet (zzzzz, in case I stumped you) at the experience center, thanks to an invitation from the director, Doriana. Just me for the whole night, plus the Technogel pillow and mattress of my choice.

As I already own one of their pillows, I knew that the gel “soft-solid” material inside their bedding is the result of a collaboration with the Italian company and Dr. Scholl’s, so I expected to sleep comfortably. The center is on a side street near the Beverly Center that was actually kind of noisy, so I was somewhat concerned about sleeping through till morning (I‘m a very light sleeper). Of course, maybe Technogel chose that location on purpose, to prove you can sleep through almost anything…

Looks boring, but you'll be snoring!

Looks boring, but you’ll be snoring!

Does that chair look comfy?

Does that chair look comfy?

I went to bed around 10 pm, which is 2 hours sooner than normal, and slept all the way through till 8 am. That made me happy. Probably smarter, younger and more radiant too! Before leaving, I poked the decorations they had in the room, as they were all made with the gel. Masks, cats, the chair cover…Does that make me a tactile person or just curious?

Masks and kitties and beds, oh my!

Masks and kitties and beds, oh my!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey, wake up and and subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.
Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference …or dream. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

17

Replace Health Cares with Healthy Habits (from BlogHer)

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

BlogHer Conference 2013Are you striving to improve some of your habits? Aren’t we all?! If you had the opportunity to easily and immediately change a few habits to improve your health and happiness would you be interested? Then stick with me sistuhs (and a few brothahs!)

I just returned from the BlogHer 2013 Conference in Chicago, where I was part of a panel entitled “Healthy Habits That Will Change Your Life.”  The other experts included Dr. Travis Stork, ER physician and host of “The Doctors,” professional organization guru and author, Andrew Mellen, weight loss inspiration and certified fitness trainer, Erika Nicole Kendall, and real food champion, Lisa Leake.

While this diverse panel had many great suggestions, their takeaway points (and mine, I humbly add in a totally not humble kind of way) are gems. Let us know whether you adopt some of these habits as they are designed to be Super Simple. Yes, we are leading off with words that start with S.

4 S Words to Better Health Habits

We’ll start with Dr. Travis, as he is the celeb of our bunch, and cute to boot! You get mnemonic advice from him. To start today with simple solutions, remember 4 S’s

  1. Stand More, Sit Less
  2. Watch Sugar Intake
  3. Look to Reduce Stress
  4. Sleep Sufficiently

The medical professional in him added that by developing these S word habits, you will get Sick less often and handle illness better. If you are paying attention you will note Dr. Travis gave you a bonus S in that first tip. So  Dr. Travis Stork can’t count, but he sure can save lives and help you live better! Our panel existed courtesy of Dr. Travis and his affiliation with Simple Saline which sponsored him. More key S words!

The FIT Principle

Make walking a daily habitNext up, you get my quick and memorable fitness tips. When you are looking to improve your movement habits, keep in mind the FIT principle:

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

Change only ONE of these elements at a time, about every two weeks. When we are gung ho to improve our exercise habits, we try to conquer prior poor habits too fast.  As you make more movement part of your new, improved, more refreshing life go with what you can sustain over time.  Going harder and longer and more often all at once is a statistical road to failure. Up the ante one letter at a time –  more F or I or T. No “ands.” No “buts.”

Ingredient Literacy

For food advice, mom and “real food” go-to gal, Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food distilled her wealth of experience into 3 key points:

  1. Read ingredient labels. Don’t get caught up in calorie counting, total fat, percentage of carbohydrates. Just read the labels and look for real foods.
  2. Buy nothing that has more than 5 ingredients.
  3. Don’t buy food that has ingredients you would not have at home such as all those chemicals no one can pronounce or spell.

Lisa’s basic premise is that if she can change her eating habits and those of her family, anyone can. She admits to starting with zero idea of nutrition and few cooking skills. She was a mom with a desire to raise healthy children and a commitment to start somewhere. Lisa gave herself and her family 100 days’ to see whether new habits would stick and found herself on a lifelong journey to better eating.

The Triumvirate of Organizational Triumph

Book by Andrew Mellen, Unstuff Your LifeMany of us have experienced that an organized environment usually means a free, clear, and organized mind. When we clear physical clutter, we make room for our minds and bodies to operate. Author of the best selling book, Unstuff Your Life, Andrew Mellen suggests three strategies to shift to healthier habits:

  1. Have only one home for everything.
  2. Put like with like.
  3. Promise yourself that if something comes in then something goes out.

Cluttered room“Simple to remember,” claims Andrew. No putting keys either on the dresser or in the purse or by the refrigerator. Once in the door, your keys go always in the same spot and only that spot. One home for each item, not a vacation back up villa.

Trying to  decide whether important papers go in the office file except that one set of super important papers, which you are thinking of stashing somewhere special because they are super special papers? No, no, no my pretties. If it looks like the other stuff, acts like the other stuff, and smells like the other stuff, it all goes together in those files. Like with like.

Out shopping and hearing a tchotchke calling your name and credit card number? Then be ready to give up something first, because if you bring something new into the house, something else has to get the heave ho. Such an approach will help keep clutter and stuff down.

Moderation from our Moderator

Our super savvy moderator, Erika Nicole Kendall stuck to her moderator role — to deftly herd the rest of us while underplaying her input. So she did not offer takeaway tips, but took audience questions to wrap up our time. Her blog, the Black Girls Guide to Weight Loss, about losing 170 pounds and becoming a fitness professional is worth following however.

To understand better the reasons Sleep, Stress, and Sugar are such culprits, read 3 Stealth Saboteurs of Your Weight Loss. That Dr. Travis is such a Fun and Fit twin wanna be with his advice.

transcript from BlogHer of Healthy Habits That WIll Change Your LifeIf you are super motivated to make  changes for the better with your daily habits, then read the transcript of our entire session. Some of the transcription has odd words here and there, but you will get the full gist and benefit of our collective wisdom if you follow the link. Attendees paid almost $400 to get such scoop live, so take advantage of the free education while you can!

Which habit are you improving to chase your health cares away and live better another day?

Sure we attend events; however we also speak at them. With energy and humor.  So why not hire us for your next meeting or conference?  Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

One GREAT habit you can start today is to subscribe to our YouTube channel to access short videos that will improve your fitness level and make you happy! 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.

Photo Credits: Messy room –  puuikibeach  BlogHer logo – BlogHer

 

11

Eating Healthy at Conferences

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Eating out Healthy

Healthy packed dried fruits and veggiesWho likes attending conferences, trade shows, or events?  Who does not like gaining weight, overspending on food, or feeling lethargic from eating and drinking in ways you would not consider at home? After speaking at and attending hundreds of events, Alexandra and I have some healthy tips for eating out when on the road.

Heading to BlogHer 2013 in Chicago

Given that I will be at BlogHer 2013 this weekend, I have been thinking of ways to keep my energy and focus strong so I can take advantage of every minute I am at this big gig. That means eating well. But I sure don’t want to pack on more than I packed in, so I will be implementing the “eating healthy on the road” plan that Alexandra and I have honed over the years. We hope our tips and experience help you reach your road food goals in a satisfying, healthy, easy way.

BlogHer 2013 Speaker Head Shot for Kymberly

On your way to the event

1. Bring your in-flight meal and snacks with you rather than relying on options served at the (expensive) airport restaurants and on the plane.  Nothing makes it easier to resist any temptation airport fast food chains offer than knowing you have your favorite sandwich, hard boiled egg, or fruit and nuts in your carry on. Oh, and skip the tuna fish sandwich if you want to have any kind of rapport with your seatmate. I learned this lesson the stinky way!

2. While you cannot bring a filled water bottle through security checkpoints, you can carry an empty one. Fill it up with ice or water once past security. I feel more refreshed when I sip icy cold water during flights and when waiting at connection gates. Skip the sodas, alcohol, and sugar-filled juice beverages served in-flight and ask for ice, water, or tomato juice instead. You’ll land with a clearer head and fresher energy for the conference ahead.

3. If driving, bring with you healthy food and a small cooler. I freeze a full water bottle so I have cold water to swig on as I put pedal to the metal. Melty hot tip – use a water bottle that you sip from with some kind of straw, not one you have to tip up. This way you can keep your eyes on the road instead of tilting your head back.

At the hotel

4. Reserve a room with a mini-fridge and find a grocery store. Or ….

5. Use hotel ice machines to keep your portable pantry refreshingly frosty and chilled. If you’ve packed only nutritious foods you won’t have to exert self-discipline to resist junk foods that aren’t there. I make sure to include breakfast foods for the first morning of a conference so I can sleep a teensy bit longer instead of waking early to find a restaurant, stand in long lines, or wait for room service.  (The truth?  I rarely use room service as I am frugal boomer all the way!) For me, even 30 minutes’ of extra sleep followed by breakfast from home of my favorite yogurt, berries, and cereal eaten calmly in my room makes a big difference in my event energy level.

More healthy options: dried fish, grains from ThailandWhen you return to your room at the end of the day, most likely you will be tired, with sore feet, bad hair, oily skin, and the urge to flop on the bed and go through all your notes, swag, purchases, and brochures. Or maybe that’s just me. Even if I think I am really hungry and ready to overeat a big dinner, that feeling is overpowered by sloth. Once in the room and on the bed, it’s hard to budge me. In such cases, I am happy to eat whatever is in my cooler. And remember, you are going to pack or buy only nourishing food in the first place. Voila! – good choices by default!

In Restaurants

6. If you do go out to dinner at the end of a convention day, bring fit, healthy friends and colleagues with you. Peer pressure really helps out in such times. Study after study shows that our food choices are influenced by the people we eat with. Do your convention dining with others who:

  • moderate their portion size
  • order an appetizer as the entree
  • split meals or bring home half to store in that oh so convenient fridge or cooler
  • skip desserts, breads, and high calorie, sweet drinks

And also read the post we did on Dining Out on the Road that gives you 5 usable and 5 “bonus” tips.

At the trade show and conference

7. Again, plan and pack! Stick portable, healthy snacks in your convention bag. Pass by the candy offered at some booths. Find the vendors with true fuel for your trade show wrangling, session bopping self.  Take advantage of the fruit available in presenter, press, exhibitor, and VIP rooms if you qualify.Healthy fruit smoothies from a stand in Thailand

8. Make time for lunch, even if it’s finding the one healthy meal for sale at the venue restaurant. If you rely on snacks and booth samples alone you will be so famished and fatigued by day’s end that every food will call your name. Over and over. Loudly and immediately. Even if it’s the WORST choice that you would never make at home, cross your heart and hope to indulge. Hunger does crazee tricks to our brain so do your best to maintain the snack and lunch timing you have at home.

Are those enough tips and tricks to keep you eating healthy when at events? (I really should say “healthfully” to be grammatically accurate). I sure hope so as I have to finish packing now to get to BlogHer in time. You’ll never guess the panel I am speaking on. It’s called “Healthy Habits.”  Off to have the healthy habit of making my flight!

Sure, we attend events; however we also speak at them. With energy and humor.  So why not hire us for your next meeting or conference?  Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Get great exercise and active aging advice by subscribing to our YouTube channel to access short videos that will improve your fitness level and make you happy! 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.

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