Category Archives for "I Want to Lose Weight"

How Do I Lose Weight But Not Bulk Up?

No Hulk! No Bulk!

Dear Fun and Fit: K and A–I want to lose weight, not bulk up and build muscle. I’ve recently joined a gym and started doing 40 minutes on the elliptical and walking five miles on the treadmill each day. Should I still do this daily elliptical routine to lose weight or just stick with the walking so I don’t bulk up and get too muscular? Thanks so much! Chelsey, Effingham, Illinois

Kymberly: Good news walking wonder woman. Not only can you tread the light fantastic, but also you can work the elliptical until you shrink so much you have to run around in the shower to get wet. Unless you are actually lifting the elliptical machine above your head until muscular fatigue sets in (probably around one repetition), you are in cardio land, not weight or strength training land.

How Do You Know if an Activity is “Cardio” or “Aerobic?”

An “aerobic” or “cardio” activity is defined as being:

  • systemic (using many muscles in the body, mostly the major ones in the lower body)
  • with elevated heart rate
  • at a pace you can sustain 20 minutes (even if you go longer or shorter, you COULD sustain it at least 20 minutes)
  • always able to breathe comfortably at a rate of 60-85% of your heart rate maximum
  • low resistance and many many many repetitions.

While aerobic exercise will strengthen your heart, it will not really affect muscle mass.  In short, work out bulk-free with both the treadmill and elliptical as neither will build much more than the heart muscle.

Bodybuilding vs Strength Training: Build or Bust a Myth?Kymberly and Coco using TRX

Alexandra: There is a myth, that’s a mystery to me and misses the point about weight loss. That myth is that weight training will make you all bulked up like the Hulk. That is called bodybuilding. If you want to lose weight, you will have to add weight training to your regimen (see how it’s called “weight training?” That is because you are training your weight to bend to your will). With cardio, if you hustle your bustle (19th-century version of Spanx®), you can burn 10-12 kcals a minute; with weight training it’s only 8-10 kcals per minute. But, da da da da (those are trumpets), due to a magical thing called the metabolic spike (not a volleyball term), you will continue to burn kcals for about an hour after you finish working out and are sitting on your Chelsey Tushy. So in the end, due to the wonders of higher math, you will actually have burned more kcals with the weight training added in.

Kymberly: If it reassures you even more, unless “Chelsey” is a fake name for “Carl” or “Charles” or “Manly Man,” as a female you do not have enough testosterone to accidentally bulk up. No sireee, I mean no misseee, you will not wake up one morning suddenly sproing boing, pop pop muscle-bound beyond belief and desire. Creating muscle definition is a process that takes time and deliberate weight training effort, so if you see yourself getting more muscular than you want, I’m pretty sure you’d notice and make changes to your program.

Alexandra: Because we like you so much, you get the bonus info that we haven’t told anyone (except in these other posts which we encourage you and everyone to read, then blab about):

Glam girls have curves5 Reasons to Attend a Strength Class

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

Weights or Cardio: Who’s on First?

By adding weight training, you will change your metabolism and be burning kcals at a higher rate all day and night. Even on vacation and during high fatty-intake sports matches and dates where you eat a lot because someone else is paying (oops, gave away my college financial solvency plan), you will be a little kcal-burning heater.

Dear hulkers and bulkers: What kind of weight training have you added to your exercise regimen? Did you even know there was a She-Hulk?

ACTION: Want guidance on exactly what to do to lose weight, get strong, boost your metabolism, and counteract the effects of menopause? Consider our TransformAging webinar summit package wherein leading experts offer practical strategies and up to date tips. Click to find out more and to be more (or less!)

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


Which is the “Best” Cardio Workout: Walking? Running? Machines?

Kymberly's walking feetWhich is a better cardio workout: stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical, rowing machine?  Tina, Lubbock, Texas

I heard walking is much better for you than running, especially for women over 50.  Is that true?  If so, why? Noel, St Joseph, MO

Walk, or Run to the Best Cardio Exercise

Kymberly: Dear aerobic ladies:  Since the same answer applies to both your questions, we are tackling them together. (Kind of like what guys said to us in our early dating lives, pre-hubbies. That “twin thing” again.)   The bottom line is that the “best” activity is the one you will actually do. Log time and intensity. Which activity do you find most comfortable on your body? Which one will you stick with the longest? Which one keeps you injury free? The goal is to go as long as you can, as hard as you can, as often as you can. What do you actually LIKE doing? Yes, it’s that simple and accessible!

Nashville bowling- Alexandra

Bowling is great cardio – as long as you jump for joy when you don’t bowl a gutter ball

We could give you heart rate formulas and a discussion about involved joints and high impact versus medium or low impact, but why get caught up in all that? “Log time; be happy” is the best advice we can give you for cardio. Your body will tell you what you prefer doing. If not, Alexandra will.

Alexandra: First of all, no-one ever tackled me. It was more like throwing themselves at my feet. Or running away – I can’t remember which. But it involved some sort of aerobic workout. Which is my point entirely – you need some sort of cardio exercise. The exact “right” one kind of depends on you. Tina, which machine do you like better? Noel, do you prefer running or walking?

You have to do the one that you will actually do! What? That sounds like a skanky date proposal!

Which is Better: 6 of One or Half Dozen of the Other?

Alexandra:”Log time,” by the way, means writing down the amount of time you are doing your chosen activity. You don’t get to count the time spent “standing in the shade” or “checking my phone messages,” which is what Kymberly always does when we walk together on a gentle, uphill slope! Me personally, I hate to run. I want to exercise, not sweat! Walking is my favorite non-work-related exercise because it allows me ample time to play with my iPod (which I still don’t quite understand), with time left over for calling my teenager for iPod advice. I can’t make those kinds of calls if I’m running!

Climbing the road

Who’s the best at getting down cardio hills?

Kymberly: Excuse me, but “gentle, uphill slope” my Cinnabuns!  Alexandra took me on a forced death march up a cliff with no end, under the raging sun, dangling the water bottle from her “busting my butt” hand. What I would have given for a nice, programmable, non-taunting piece of cardio equipment at that moment. So the new and best cardio activity for me now is to work my way downhill. Like what’s-her-twinnie, I am not a runner. The knees do not take well to all that pounding. The last time I did a running program was from my house to Alexandra’s back in the day when we were ahem, …younger. She lived a mile from me then and made pancakes for brekkie if I showed up on time. Then she would drive me home. So you can see where a running program really was not the best workout for me. The pancakes were the best though!

Again the “best” cardio workout is the one or ones you will actually engage in. Even “better” is to change up the activity.  If you always power walk, try a stair climber now and then. If you always run on a treadmill, get outdoors and walk.  Check out this article that proves Alexandra and I are geniuses with great advice when we tell you to do Interval Training and enjoy the process.

bicycling - AlexandraOther “Bests”:  Click, read, comment, be the best!

Which are the best foods to eat before a workout?

What is the best way to train your triceps?

What are the best ways to burn fat if you are a woman over 50?

ACTION: And finally, what’s the best way to get us to come to you twice a week with solutions to your active aging issues? SUBSCRIBE to our blog, of course. Simply enter your email in one of the handy dandy boxes. 

GO HERE TO CHECK OUT AN ARTICLE courtesy of ACE Fitness. They were kind enough to totally back up everything we are advising.
What is your favorite cardio activity?  What do you find “best” (besides our blog, of course)?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


A 10K Walk is as Far as a 10K Run

What if you could participate in a running race by not running and not racing? Could such a thing be possible?

badge for Lexus LaceUp 10KWhen you hear about 5K, 10K and marathon races, you immediately think it’s a running race, right (especially as the words “running” and “race” are in the title)? And if you’re a Boomer woman who doesn’t actually enjoy running, you would probably then classify that race as “for someone else,” and move on to other things. But as I discovered a few years ago when I was invited to participate in a half marathon in San Francisco a few months after I’d had knee surgery, it IS possible to walk. As a matter of fact, lots of other participants will be walking too.

Lexus LaceUp Running Series Presented by Saucony

That half marathon was four years ago, and I still love walking, especially in scenic places. So when I was offered the chance to join the Lexus LaceUp Running Series in Palos Verdes, guess what I did? I ignored the “running” part of the title and signed up to walk the 10K. They have a 5K and half marathon too, but this time the 10K feels right for me.

the 10K course for Lexus LaceUp RaceIt’s good to get out of your comfort zone once in awhile and try something that’s challenging, yet achievable. The distance isn’t challenging, but I have to stay under a 16 minute per mile time limit, so THAT is the challenge. I haven’t timed myself in years. But the race is in Palos Verdes, which is near where I grew up, so I’m looking forward to the outstanding scenery – beaches and cliffs and gorgeous homes, oh my.

Many of our posts share tips about the benefits of cardio movement on the brain, stress levels, weight gain, and disease prevention (Read the links for definitive proof that a walk can be as good as a run for many health goals). Yet we Boomer women are still NOT aging healthfully.

pic of running uphill in San Luis Obispo

If you accept the importance of moving, yet reject the unpleasantness of running (the only running I ever enjoyed was when I played soccer), try walking the 10K with me on November 14. Or go for the 5K. Bring a group of friends and chat as you go. You can even sign up for the December 06 event in Riverside and do two (okay, you can do one or the other). The cost is quite low, especially when you factor in the 30% discount if you use my code: FunandFit30.

If you DO happen to enjoy running, you can still get the 30% discount, plus the pleasure of passing me early on in the race. Whether you run or walk, you’ll enjoy a Sierra Nevada beer toast, local food-truck brunch, and music. And if you’re a serious runner, you’ll be glad to know you get chip timing, real time results, tech T-shirt, sticker, and a high quality finisher’s medal. This link has all the info.

See you at Pelican Cove Park on November 14!

I was not compensated for this post. I did receive free entry, which is the perfect motivation for me to get my walking shoes on and drive down to the Lexus LaceUp in Palos Verdes. Besides, two charities are receiving monies from the registration fees, so that’s extra motivation right there.


How Can I Speed Up My Metabolism?


What can I do to crank up my metabolism?
Donna, San Diego

Kymberly on a bike
Well, Donna not only are we going to tell you exactly what to do and how, but also stick around to discover one mistake exercisers make when trying to boost their metabolism. You are also going to learn which foods help you be a calorie burning heater even when you are not active. But first a word from our dictionary:

Basal metabolism:  The minimal energy expended to maintain respiration, circulation, peristalsis, muscle tonus, body temperature, glandular activity, and the other vegetative functions of the body.

zzzzzzz snork. What did that just say? In Fun and Fit translated style, that says, “If you want to burn kcals at a faster rate (helps with weight loss and maintenance), speed up your at-rest baseline usage of energy.”

Get Hip with HIIT

 Eleven variables affect your metabolic rate. According to the Oct. 2012 issue of ACE Certified News, “exercise is easily the most adjustable variable (of these 11) in total daily energy expenditure.” Current research indicates that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the most effective method for raising your metabolic rate and losing weight, so we’ll be super thoughtful and define it. Essentially, it means alternating your workout into two speeds – very intense, and rest. The intervals can vary, such as 60 seconds work/ 60 seconds rest, or the very popular Tabata style: 20 seconds work/ 10 seconds rest, which our colleague Tamara Grand explains in this Tabata Training post.

It’s Burpee Time!

High Intensity vs. High Impact

By the way, standard bodybuilding won’t work for your goals, as it doesn’t burn enough calories or have the required after-effects. What DOES work is sprinting, biking, boot-camp moves such as burpees, stair-climbing, weight-lifting, and many other moves where you can push yourself to a 9 or 10 level of intensity on a 1-10 scale. High intensity doesn’t have to be high impact, which is a mistake many exercisers make when choosing moves. In case you’re not into “jumpy” high impact moves, do low impact, high intensity moves instead, such as spiderman push-ups. They are very low impact, yet as you’ll see if you try a few, they are definitely high intensity.

Cardio + Weight Training = Faster Metabolism

We were once asked about “amping up my old ass metabolism”  by a reader, so you might like to read what we told her (hint: we didn’t call her “old”). In addition to HIIT, you definitely want a weight training component. Our post about the caloric benefits from the metabolic spike explains the advantages of combining cardio and weight training, but in case you’re too exhausted to click the link, it essentially says that “with cardio, you can burn 10-12 kcals a minute; with weight training it’s only 8-10 kcals per minute. But due to a magical thing called the metabolic spike (not a volleyball term), you will continue to burn kcals efficiently for about an hour after you finish working out, even if you’re sitting on your old ass donkey doing nothing.

push-up resistance trainingEat for a Speedier Metabolism

The term “metabolism” specifically refers to the breakdown of food and its subsequent transformation into energy your body needs. The best way to make sure you are breaking down and using the kcals/ energy from your food is to do two things: 1) eat food that’s a good balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats; and 2) eat at regular intervals. An abrupt calorie-reduction or starvation diet can severely reduce (i.e., slow down) your basal metabolic rate (BMR) by up to 30%, and a restrictive, low-calorie diet can decrease it by as much as 20%.
Basically, we just said, “Don’t skip meals. Don’t eat crap.” You’re welcome for that memorable translation!

We hope we’ve answered your question. If we have, go do 10 spiderman push-ups! If we haven’t, go do 20!

Readers: What high intensity, low impact moves have you discovered that we can share with other readers, especially those with bad knees?

Have you subscribed to our twice-weekly posts yet? So easy. Just enter your email over there —->

Photo credits: via cycloctopus (crank);  beingwell20 (burpee),

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


Menopause, Weight Gain, and Weight Loss: Grrrrr

Some good things with 50

Some good things come in the 50s

Alexandra: This may be a rhetorical question for all women who are in the menopausal years, but have you noticed how stinkin’ hard it is to keep the weight off now? We have all pretty much figured out that drops in estrogen levels can trigger various symptoms, including weight gain. The important point is to figure out the most effective method for preventing or reversing that weight gain if that gain is associated with health issues (such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, joint instability). In other words, I am saying the weight gain itself doesn’t matter if your health is fine, although we all know that we care aesthetically!

Estroven Weight Management and Scales

Who’s Tipping the Scales Since Menopause?

Weight Loss Solutions: Aerobic and Resistance Training Exercise

Research has shown that both cardio activity and resistance training affect body composition and abdominal fat distribution, so you will want to move more than you have been due to your slowed metabolism, and do some weightlifting. Notice I did NOT say bodybuilding.
A couple of years ago I wrote an article on the link between exercise and sexual health, which included this statement: “ In Australia, researchers looked at the relationship between exercise, body mass index (BMI) and menopausal symptoms to see if the first two had an effect on the latter (Mirzaiinjmabadi, Anderson & Barnes 2006). The findings should be welcome news to women wishing to relieve symptoms of menopause…”

Side Benefits: Improved Mood and Lowered Stress

Before I turned 50, I took only iron for anemia. Now that I’m on THIS side of the age scale, I find myself trying other supplements too. As I’m not interested in prescription meds for a natural event (excepting the epidural I had during childbirth), I look to plant-based remedies and exercise.

Research also supports exercise as a way to relieve stress, stabilize mood swings that come with hormonal changes, and improve overall quality of life. However, no studies yet conclude that exercise can resolve sleep interruption or hot flashes. Hey, if I’m going to get hot and sweaty anyway, why not do it when a cute workout outfit, a good playlist, and calorie burning are involved?

From Lean to Love Handles

Before Menopause. Heck, before my 50s!

Before Menopause. Heck, before my 50s!

Kymberly: My story is short and universal: I enjoyed a lifetime as an active, lean, fit person who never had weight issues. Then menopause hit and I gained 30 ell-bees in a blink, despite having better eating habits than when young, a regular exercise program, and professional knowledge about how menopause affects women.

Teaching fitness post menopuase

After Menopause: I’m Still Standing!

Don’t get me wrong. I am still one of the healthiest people I know. Still active; still happy and confident; still a qualified group fitness leader. With a menopot and a closet full of blouses that gap between the buttons! Who knows what I am talking about?

What Are the  Minimum Cardio Requirements to Address Menopause Weight Gain?

I continue to recommend exercise as one of the best ways to get through menopause — well, through life in general! Specifically, get at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes minimum of high intensity aerobic activity each week.  Certainly more minutes spread throughout the week is even better. But these minimum targets are doable and effective. We’re talking just 22 minutes per day. Jog in place during tv commercials if need be. I can knock out 15 minutes during the halftime of a UEFA Champions soccer game!  Taking my princess privileged poochie for a daily dog walk tacks on another 45 minutes at least.

And Minimum Strength Training Requirements?

Perhaps more critical for weight loss purposes is to strength train all major muscles at least twice a week. Strength training becomes MORE, not less important we age. Added bonus: resistance training and weight bearing activities (such as jogging, treadmill walking, but NOT swimming, for example) slow bone loss after menopause, which lowers the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.Some additional good news about menopause and exercise — we also reduce our risk of breast cancer.

Hmm, I probably could increase the frequency and intensity of my strength training program as I have slacked off a bit the last few years. Just a thought. No wait – I mean just an ACTION!

For more thoughts and a story you might relate to, check out Managing Weight as You Age, by Jody Goldenfield.

Action:  Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog if you want to show menopause who’s boss.  We’ll come to you twice a week with realistic tips to help you enjoy the second half of life as much as possible. Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes and grab your bonus while you’re at it. 

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


Ten Ways to Get Healthier in Under 10 Minutes

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

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

Alexandra’s Top 5 Tips

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

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

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

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

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

Kymberly’s Top 5 Tips

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

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

Meditating at Rancho la Puerta

Kymberly Meditating at Rancho la Puerta

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

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


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

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


What is the Best Way to Train My Triceps?

Dear Fun and Fit: Hi Twins, What is the best way to control tricep flap? Pati, Mountain View, CA

Alexandra: Another popular way people ask us this question is “How do I get Michelle Obama arms?” Either way, we have suggestions for you. The best way to control “tricep flap” is with long-sleeved shirts! Or do you mean a more permanent solution? Velcro, for example. We call the triceps the “bye-bye muscle.” You wave bye-bye. You stop. It doesn’t.

Kymberly: Just like Alexandra’s humormongering at a party. Ahh haaa haa Good one, eh? “Tricep flap” is so easy to address I am surprised it has run out of control in epidemic proportions (just like all those flappers who whirled themselves into a tizzy in the Twenties). Strength train the triceps. Then give a twirl and whirl to the single weight triceps extension Alexandra shows in our YouTube video. Feel encouraged to subscribe to our Fun and Fit channel if you’d like more moves designed for women over 50.

However, much as I love my sis, I actually prefer the following moves for triceps: tricep kickbacks–kind of like political life and funding flaps in certain countries; or triceps overhead extensions–what many people could use with their mortgages; or triceps push-ups– Similar to chest push ups, but with the arms narrower and elbows tucked next to the rib cage throughout the exercise. Yes, keep your arms parallel to your body. If you have not done this move before, start with the knees on the ground.

What if Fat is Covering Your Triceps?

And if, diplomatically saying that if you were carrying any extra fat globules in the arm area, well… time for some cardio and general strength training of the major muscles. You want to reduce fat with an overall exercise program while strength training the triceps. Let those triceps babies show their fulsomeness. No longer need they hide under any fat. Of course, no longer need they be ignored either. Kind of like what people might want to do to Alexandra’s jokes at that same party.

Alexandra: What party? Just because you left town and I got all the cute guys to myself. Yup, just me and my sleeveless shirt. And my lack of wingspan, as a friend calls the triceps (okay, my imaginary friend). Another way to control tricep flap is with an air-control tower. By this I mean, control the amount of air-speed created by those flappers. “What… is your quest?” “To seek the Holy Triceps.” “What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen tricep?” “What do you mean, an African or European tricep?” “Huh? I…I don’t know that.” (Bioioioioing, extra flap just thrown over). This Monty Python digression has been brought to you by an exercise called the “Skull Crusher,” which Fun and Fit feel is a very Pythonesque name. See, I did get around to the “bye-bye muscle” by and by.

Oh, and we also got around to another post that will give you more ideas to get great arms. Click to laugh and to access.

Readers: To whom and what would you love to say “bye-bye?”

Action Option: Ok, ok, so in the hundreds of videos we offer on our YouTube channel, we are pitifully scarce in the triceps department. So we know what our next shoot needs to focus on. Your task — subscribe to our channel. You’ll be the first to find out when our triceps videos get published.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


Strength Training: How Often Should I Vary My Workout?

Dear K and A: I keep hearing I should change up my weight lifting routine to avoid muscle memory, especially once past menopause. How often should I change my strength workout and to what degree? Do I vary the repetitions?  The weight amount? Or do I choose  completely different exercises? Gina, Texas

Dumbbell, one free weight

Keep Your Mind Clear, Body Confused

Kymberly: Dear Gina: As you are doin’ the Tighten Up in Texas, keep in mind this pithy and wise quote I made up myself: “Keep the mind clear and the body confused.” Always know what, why, and how you are performing your resistance exercises.  That’s keeping the mind clear.

And change up those resistance training exercises every so often. That’s where the body confusion comes in. Be careful not to mix up the two and wonder what the heck you are doing and why, but gosh, you sure have done it for a long time. That’s akin to saying “gee the food was bad, but at least they had big portions!”

Distinguish Muscle Adaptation and Progression vs Muscle Memory

Anyway, we are really talking adaptation and progression here, not muscle memory. You want muscle memory, which allows you to achieve good form and coordination. And you want to constantly push yourself to progress. Once you adapt to a move,  it’s time to vary the exercise in one of many ways.

pic of TRX plank tuck

Alexandra tries different equipment. Tries.

Alexandra: I want some muscle memory. I want to remember what, why and where my muscles are! I had them just a minute ago. I think they got lost behind my Buns of Cinna! Geez, at this point I have a Samwise and pithy quote that I made up, and it’s better than Kymberly’s. It is this “Frodo, Frodo, it’s me – Sam. You have Muscle Alzheimer’s.” I too want to adapt and progress, but I call it something different. I call it “I let my boys make it through their teen years by reminding myself it would soon be over, and I would again find harmony and joy in their company.” Adapt? Yup. Progress? They’re alive aren’t they? So some days I lift my car keys and purse 15 times as I contemplate running away for 3 years. Other days I lift my car just once, and contemplate hurling it, and myself, over a cliff. Light weights one day, heavy the next.

Change Up Your Strength Training Program

Push ups can be done anywhere

Change the angle of your exercise to push progress. Pushy push-ups!

K: Ummm, so where were we? Basically, adaptation can occur anytime between 1 and 12 weeks– for each new move. Unless you are Alexandra, then it’s a lifelong process. For you, Ginaroo, I would change up about 20-30 percent  of my workout every few weeks. Don’t completely throw out one routine for another all at once. Morph your routine with one, two, or three new approaches each week without getting caught up in exact formulas. If you no longer see or feel progress with a given exercise, change something about it.  If you feel stale with a move, throw out the old Cinnabuns. Couldn’t resist.

What Elements Do You Change When Weight Training?

As for what element to change, that is the fabulosity (made up that word too and proud of it!) of resistance training. You can select to change any number of elements to keep your body adapting upwards and program fresh:

  • Number of repetitions
  • Resistance, load, or intensity
  •  Equipment or modality (a fancy term I did not make up that generally means “type”) such as free weights or tubing instead of a machine for any given exercise.
  • Range of motion
  • Organizing principle or order of your routine: from large to small muscles instead of small to large, or from head to toe vs toe to head; alternate front and back or upper and lower; or sitting to standing exercises.
  • Pace of each exercise: instead of four counts up and four counts down on a lunge for instance, do two counts down and six counts up;
  • The exercise itself; trade out one with a similar goal or focus: chest press instead of push-up;
  • Add a balance or instability factor: stand on discs or a BOSU instead of the ground; have a narrow instead of wide stance.
  • Change the stabilizing muscles: sit on a ball for tricep extensions instead of standing.
  • Substitute an isometric for an isotonic exercise (Isotonic = a move that moves with the muscles under tension. Your muscles lengthen and shorten with contraction. Isometric = a move that holds also with the muscles under tension though you are not shortening and lengthening them. A plank is an example of an isometric exercise; a reverse curl up is isotonic).

So many ways to vary: the exercise itself, the equipment, the speed, the balance factor, the resistance factor, the range of motion, the order of your routine. Get happy and choose what appeals to you.

A: Forget your troubles, come on get happy, gonna chase all your weight away. Said Hallelujah, come on get happy, get ready for the push-ups day! What appeals to me has nothing to do with working out. It involves curly dark hair and manly t-shirt smell. Really, I just go to the gym and work out so I can sniff the hotties. Oh, and I’m paid.

Total Gym workout side lunges

Who likes side lunges?

K: And whoever said to change your routine to avoid muscle memory, needs to read our blog in a big way. You change your routine to avoid lack of progress from overadaptation. Force the body to adapt upwards. Just as I have had to adapt to having a twin who lifts car keys for a workout. As you can tell by the fine quality of my advice, I do all the heavy lifting for her.

Take Action Today to get stronger! Looking to improve your strength and lose weight with exercises that are specifically designed for women over 50? Check out our other posts on weight training, strength, and busting muscle building myths.  We double dare you to click those links to see how you can get MORE fit and fab!

You will then be so strong you will want to subscribe to our blog to get active aging answers twice a week. Subscribe now in the box above or to the right.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

How to Fit in Exercise When You Don’t Have Time to Exercise

Over the years we’ve heard from many women about the difficulty they have finding time to exercise. Usually we get questions sent to our site asking a variation of “I know I need to exercise, but I don’t have time. What do you suggest?”

Surfers at Sunset in Santa BarbaraIn some ways the answer seems simple; we just should tell these women to make time, right? Of course, you and I both know the answer isn’t that simple, partly because the question isn’t that simple.

alleyway in black and white in Santa BarbaraWhat do I mean by that? In truth, the question isn’t necessarily a plea for solutions (though we have many solutions; some are listed below and some are linked to in this post and through the pictures). Before giving some answers about substituting A (Inactivity) for B (Activity) in ways that don’t add time demands to your day, let’s take a look at some of the actual meanings behind the question:

Tree roots from Moreton Bay FigI know I need to exercise, but I don’t want to, so I’ve made my day super busy so I can feel less guilty about not exercising.

I’m hoping you’ll tell me I’m okay, and that I don’t need to exercise.

Other people think I should exercise, but I don’t really agree, so I’m kicking this can down the road.

I actually hate to exercise, so please say you have an easy, “magic pill” solution that doesn’t involve sweating, exertion or a change of clothes.

close-up of mushroomAnd certainly, some want our expert input so they can make healthy changes to their routine.

red tiled bench in Santa BarbaraHere’s how you can discern whether you’re truly invested in finding a solution – after reading our suggestions, see if you’ve implemented any of them over the next two weeks. If so, you truly wish to make some changes. If not, you may be more comfortable choosing guilt, procrastination or plain old avoidance. As a person who is the full-time caretaker for two people, I can definitely say that there are times when it’s truly impossible to get in some “me” exercise time. And… as a person who’s a full-time caretaker for two people, I can also say that being too busy for exercise every single day for weeks, months or years is a choice.

Boat masts in Santa Barbara HarborWith that in mind, the following tips will be helpful to any of you who are ready to fit in exercise:

  • Every time you go to sit down, lower your butt just until it touches the chair, stand back up, then sit down. You’d be surprised at how many squats that adds up to
  • When waiting for someone at an appointment (I chauffeur two people around town nearly every day), go for a walk instead of sitting in the lobby. If you need to be present at the appointment, stand up and pace or do step-touches in the waiting room. No reason to sit still while you wait.
  • Arrange your kitchen so that you have to squat down low and reach up high to get everyday items.
  • When you are making phone calls (I make about 3,962 a day; all of them involving some sort of Hold Hell), pace around the room or do some strength training while you’re on hold (just remember to put the speakerphone on). Instead of sitting on hold, you can work out on hold.
  • Do you eat lunch? At your desk? In a chair? Watching TV? In a box with a fox? Why do you do that? Take your lunch with you and go for a walk. And if the weather’s crappy, walk indoors – the office, your dusty treadmill or even the local mega-mall.
  • No time to lie down on a mat and do some abs work? No problem. You can do standing core work. If you walk on the beach, and stand on one leg while taking off a shoe to dump sand out of it, you are doing standing core and balance work. Even without sand, you probably wear shoes every day, right? Try putting them on and taking them off while standing, without holding on to the table or counter.

tiled bench in Santa Barbara County CourthouseRecently I’ve posted quite a few pictures and scopes (videos on an app called Periscope – please follow me at @AlexandraFunFit), and gotten lots of comments about how I must be on a permanent vacation because I’m always out and about, walking around. No. I’m just finding a solution that works for me while I wait around for the people I drive. Walking and taking pictures and doing my scopes keeps me fit, not just physically, but also mentally. My stress level is under control for two reasons: 1 – I am outdoors walking, which means I am exercising AND getting the benefits of nature; and 2 – I made a conscious choice to do something that takes my mind off the many hours I am required to drive and wait and drive and wait and drive and wait. That choice gives me a feeling of control.

Santa Barbara MissionWhat tips would you add to the short list above?Ent in tree

P.S. Do you see the Ent holding up the tree and raising his arms and face to the sky in this picture? Look again.

by Alexandra Williams, MA (don’t forget to follow me on Periscope for my travel and fitness videos)


Use Weights While Walking: Yes or No?

Can tSilly Walks posterhe subject of walking with hand or ankle weights be humorous and informative? In looking back at old posts, we discovered some gems that are begging to see the light of day again and still au courant (since this French term is derived from the word for “running” we thought it word geek appropriate).  Below is a frequent question we get asked.  Yes or no, were we right to repost for your edu-tainment?

Dear Fun and Fit: Kymberly and Alexandra: Why do they say NOT to use hand weights while walking? Regards, Charlotte, CA

Kymberly: “They” who? Is someone following us? I am not paranoid, but why do “they” keep showing up and talking to me? “They” told me to tell you that adding weights at the end of a lever (hand or ankle, for example) that is moving rapidly is a good way to stress joints, tendons, and ligaments. Carrying hand weights risks raising your blood pressure, when it’s really your heart rate you want to elevate. If your goal is to get a good cardio workout (I think this is a safe assumption that will not make an ASS out of U and ME), then ditching the weights will allow you to walk faster and thereby ditch the body weight…… in a roadside ditch that you pass while out power walking!

Alexandra: Let me walk back through your question. Why do you want to use hand weights while walking? Are you trying to save time by doing your strength training while on the walk? Knock that off. Stand still – pick up biggish weights – be a better person. Unless, of course, your hand weight is a sword, umbrella or small dog: Woman walking with dog in armsMan walking with an umbrellaSoldiers walking with swords
In that case, go for it! Also, refer to some of our other posts on walking that will help you get more fit, less sore, and generally more awesome in every way.

Proper Form for Uphill Walking

Walk Briskly for More Calorie Burn

Kymberly walking with backpack

I’m walking with a BACKPACK, not weights. Big difference!

Kymberly: In brief — Not inserting a picture of husband in briefs here — use weights for your weight training; use your walk time to get your unhampered groove on! You will probably walk faster, at a higher intensity, with reduced injury risk, and higher caloric burn if you do NOT add ankle, hand, or wrist weights. If you really feel the need to add resistance or weight to your load, then wear a backpack that fits snugly against your back. (Um, not like what I’m doing in the photo). Then the added weight is centered on your body and close to your spine, rather than loaded at the end of a limb. There. We said it!

Alexandra: BTW, Unhampered groove looks like this:Man walking with unhampered groove

Kymberly: Say, I couldn’t help but notice that there are 7 walking men in the image my sister found. Makes me think of another post you neeeeeed to click to read if you want to get the most out of your walk. 7 Steps to Better Walking

Alexandra: A question for you, that we answer: Can Walking Get You Fit? Click to read and find out.

Dear Walkers: What do you hold while walking? And do NOT say “my breath.”

Photo credits: Creative Commons

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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