Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: In our family, we no longer snowboard after my husband’s fall led to shoulder surgery and my spill hurt my back.
Alexandra: I haven’t exactly fallen, but I did a major wipeout playing soccer back in 1998. After a number of knee surgeries, I no longer play soccer.
Fortunately we baby boomers can take action to prevent falls and bolster our balance so we age as actively and confidently as possible. Let’s arm (and leg) ourselves with a few insights.
Kymberly: Recently Alexandra and I attended and spoke at the IDEA Personal Training Institute West conference. One of my favorite presentations (besides our own, of course!) was “Improving Balance and Mobility Skills.” This 6-hour session was offered by Karen Schlieter, MBA, MS whose expertise is in gerokinesiology, a new and specialized area of study that focuses on physical activity and aging. Some of her key points included the following:
One: Did you know that one-third of older adults fall each year? Women tend to break their forearms and wrists; men tend to hit their heads and suffer traumatic brain injury. Hold it right there! That is not the future we baby boomers envision, is it?!
We need to work on our balance by controlling our center of mass, also known as our core. The stronger and more respondent our core is, the more we are able to shift our center of gravity safely, quickly, and comfortably. Midlife and older is no time to ignore the core! So the first order of business is to strengthen our core.
Alexandra: Take advantage of the core exercises we present in our YouTube videos. We offer many, all under two minutes. You’ll find three links here so you can get to work right away!
Rotating Abs/ Core Move Video
Two: When something unexpected threatens to up-end us, we try to maintain balance using several strategies. In order of use, they are:
Ankle strategy: the first place to adjust in order to stay upright is at the ankle joint. Most people send their spine or shoulders into tilt and end up on the ground as a result. Start implementing a small amount of sway or bend at the ankle as a postural, or balance strategy. For example, if you are out walking your energetic dog, who then bangs into your legs at full run, bend at the ankle and knees, not the spine, to protect yourself from going down.
Hip strategy: the bigger muscles around our pelvis help keep our center of gravity actually centered. If an ankle bend is not enough to keep us from a fall, we depend on the larger muscles that surround our hips. Again, keep the spine long and strength train the hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, hip extensors, and abs so they can support with extra oomph when balance surprises come along.
Step out strategy: The final strategy to kick into fall-prevention gear is to step forward, backward, or laterally. If you’ve ever done the panic shuffle when tripped, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Taking a quick salvation step or many depends on our senses, overall strength, and ability to scale our movement to our environment. While we can’t do much to train our eyesight or hearing, for instance, we can be proactive on the latter two functions.
Three: The last big insight we want to share from Karen’s session is that we lose power ahead of strength. For reducing falls, we have to have power. To get back up quickly after a fall we need power. Yes, resistance training is important (twice a week seems to be the sweet spot between reaping benefits and being time/ life/ schedule efficient). However, power training tends to go by the wayside once we say good-bye to our 40s.
A quick definition of the difference between power and strength is that power has a speed and often an explosive element to it. Strength training is generally slow and controlled applied force. Bottom line — add some kind of jump to your life. Jump rope, perform squat jumps, do switch lunges, work in a few box jump ups.
Alexandra: I’ll add a few final comments. Fear of falling can actually contribute to a fall. Even if you haven’t fallen in the past, if you have a fear of falling, you are at more risk. As well, if you find yourself shuffling, you’ll want to work on lengthening your stride and picking up your feet, as a shuffling gait can lead to instability and decreased mobility.
Whether it’s Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall, be in season with a healthy, functional body that does Fall, but doesn’t fall!
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First things first: A Lat Pulldown works the lats, aka latissimi dorsi (Latin for “broad back”). These are large muscles of the thoracic and lumbar areas of the back, and together are shaped like an upside-down triangle. Their job is to move the arm, draw the shoulders back and down, and help pull the body up when climbing. A resistance tube is a hollow, long “rubber band” with handles on each end.
In our many years of teaching, we have found the Lat PullDown to be a great exercise, although it can be challenging to perform with good form. So, henceforth, forsooth, and forthwith, we hereby present a video that shows some of the right and wrongs ways to do this exercise. “Lat” the fun begin! You’re welcome for the pun.
The good news for those of us who are women
already in toward the second half, is that it gives a lift to good ol’ Betty and Veronica, because as the back strengthens, posture improves and the chest lifts up. And if you don’t get the Betty and Veronica reference, you’re too young to care about this benefit anyway!
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Do you want to wear the same cute compression socks that Alexandra is sporting in the video? Easy, just go to the Zensah website.
Working in a construction zone on TV isn’t the easiest environment to look super cool and totally hot in. My heart says “stilettos!;” my producers say “work boots, Tanya! Fortunately for me and you there are ways to look your fabulous best on camera. During the 12 years hosting “Sell This House” and “Sell This House Extreme” on A&E, I’ve had plenty of time to succeed and fail famously! I know what works and what’s embarrassing in front of a camera! I hope you can gain some fun and good advice from my experience.
Of course the first and most obvious tip is to exercise and eat healthfully, but it goes so much further than that. (Well, that is unless you have the body of a Cirque Du Soleil contortionist who looks SUPER HOT turned upside down and backwards with a toe in the left nostril balancing on one hand all while wearing an anteater costume.)
With that being said, here are my tips!
1) Be truthful to yourself about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Don’t wear tight jeans if you have muffin top. After giving birth, I know what this feels like. My choice is to wear the very cool LuLuLemon elastic waistband, very hip cargo pants. Or lose the muffin top by kicking up the exercise into high gear!
2) Clip in hair extensions. This is my best kept, not so secret anymore. I have nice hair, but on days when my hair looks flat–especially on rainy days–I give my hair a little beauty boost! Extensions come in different lengths and can be matched exactly to any hair texture.
3) Floss and whiten your teeth. Crest Whitening strips are the cheapest and most effective way to get a bright smile. You can’t get away with anything less than clean, healthy, white teeth on TV especially with close up scenes.
4) Apply your make-up correctly. Make-up changes the way you look in general so learn how to apply it. Go to a store with a cosmetics area and get a personal lesson. The biggest mistake you can make is choosing the wrong colors. Your foundation, for example, can make the difference between looking tired, or sexy and totally hot!
5) Lighting is key. You can look and feel like crap (possibly from a hangover from the night before) and great lighting will make you look spectacular! It can take 10 years and 10 pounds off! On my show, I’d say I’m lazier on some days than others when it comes to make-up but with great lighting I can go from Dracula to Diva in the flick of a switch!
6) Even in you’re in a miserable mood, you have to look incredibly happy. Sounds easy, right? In 12 years on the show I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of deaths, disappointments, and a lot of behind-the-scenes drama. Then there were the times I had to run to the toilet from either food poisoning, pregnancy, or post-party debauchery! But no matter what, or how hard it might be, when that red recording light goes on…….SO DO I.
7) Always have great posture or EVERYTHING sags! On TV, everything you do and wear is magnified, so if you’re sagging even just a bit, on screen it looks like you’re sagging a lot! And NEVER sit all the way back on a soft comfy couch when that camera is on…….unless you want to look like a toad. Sit right at the end of any chair or couch, boobs out, back straight, shoulders back, head up and legs crossed at the ankle! Do this and you’ll look like a queen on TV!
9) Clothing and color are critical. The camera hates white and fine or busy patterns. I always wear bold solid colors such as red, blue or purple to my auditions because they’re flattering, aren’t distracting and they pop on camera. Royal colors are perfect! If you want to be a Queen on camera dress to look like one. A queen never wears dull, boring, or drab colors.
10) Never shoot you from an angle lower than your shoulders. This is the difference between looking 15 pounds overweight or 15 pounds slimmer. Always have the camera shoot you from a high angle! The same holds true for the digital camera you use every day. YOU’LL LOVE ME FOR TELLING YOU THIS!
P.S. If you’re lucky enough to have a crew to work with, bring snacks and drinks to the set. This thoughtful gesture puts everyone in a good mood! A happy crew does their best to make you look HOT! Remember – the crew has the power to be naughty or nice, so be good to them and they’ll be good to you. By the time I find out how crappy I looked that day, the show has already aired with millions of people watching. And you know how some people love to let loose on the internet with their opinions about your looks!
Tanya has been entertaining audiences with her quick wit, connection with homeowners and vast knowledge of lifestyle tips for years. She currently resides in the Los Angeles area with her husband, and daughter Ava.
Photo credits: Used by permission from Tanya Memme
To find out whether your spinal alignment has (mal)adapted to a desire to get ahead, take the quick chin check we show in our video.
Sure, you might not like the momentary double-chin look. Goodness knows I, Kymberly am not so keen on that video side view of my triple chin (what I will for you lovely readers!). But you will like the benefits of that bowling ball known as your head being balanced over its support system instead of awkwardly perched in front of it.
Centering your head over your spine will increase comfort, decrease neck tension, keep you nicely extended, and save the planet. Or at least your posture.
Readers and Viewers: How much space did you have between your finger and chin? “Fess up.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Dear Sibby: We are of the mindset and age that 30 year olds should look lovely, and mostly do. We know we did! Since you asked so nicely, we shot a posture video with three starter suggestions on achieving anti-slouching when seated.
The real key though, is awareness, which you seem to have. We deduced this first by your compliment about out posture series videos 1-5. Obvious awareness! Second, you know when you are schlumping, you know when you’re up straight, you know when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for posture’s sake. (Make you think back to any holiday songs?). Third, you actually noticed that sitting in good posture takes energy. This level of awareness is your first, and best step to meeting your posture goals.
A few tips in addition to the video insights:
Saaaay, are you schlumping while reading this? Lift your heart puhleeeze!
Readers: What do you do to remind yourself to sit lifted? What word have you made up to beat “schlumping”? (which we pretty much like and plan to adopt).
Nominate Alexandra Williams
for a social media award in the Shorty Awards
Check out how our mom transforms herself from an active senior to frail little old lady back into a force to be reckoned with in less than 1 minute. Learn our quick zip trick to look 10 years younger in less than 10 seconds.
Agents, talent scouts, and publicists – our mom is available for media interviews and bookings. Ya gotta admit she’s pretty cute!
Photo credit: Creative Commons
Short. Sweet. I am either talking about this post or myself! We shall see. And you shall see…how to fix some common posture issues.
First of all, we’ll start with the most common issue – forward and inward rotation of the shoulders. That’s the techhie way of saying, “Hey, your shoulders are rounded.”
1. Roll them up and back, shawty!
2. Strengthen the muscles in the mid-back so you’ll be straight up.
That’s it for today. Go do your exercises. And you’re welcome for the lovely combo of my striped shirt (to make it easier for you see if I’m standing up straight and symmetrically) and those Hawaiian-themed curtains. You’re especially welcome for the fact that my son likes to cut my head off in videos! What can I say – he’s a teen!
And I’ll take a moment to share a secret with you – we were listed on Shape.com as one of the Top Ten Inspirational Fitness Facebook fan pages. If you haven’t checked it out, please give it a look-see lookie-loo.
Picture credit:Trigger Point Relief
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra: So we asked our friend Cathleen Clarke (the group fitness director at the Spectrum Clubs in Santa Barbara) to film us, after making her do a pinky swear not to publish any video of us fighting.
Yes, it’s about 3:33 long, but worth every second, especially the part where Kymberly moves that messy pile of hair from my neck! And isn’t 333 half of 666? And twins are each half of something! So it’s the perfect number, considering one of us (not naming myself) was recently called a “cheeky devil” in Swedish.
Kymberly: As long as those cheekies are level and symmetrical, we’ll go with that! So whether you are a trainer, trainee, curious person who wants to understand posture better, or merely a voyeur, we hope you can use our tips to assess posture from the front and back. Of course you also want to assess from both the left and right sides. (Yes, BOTH sides as our bodies don’t always tell the same story left and right, believe it or not. But we want to give you something to look forward to in the video sequel.)
Meantime, we will leave you with this thought: if your nipples are pointing down and your kneecaps are pointing in different directions from one another, your posture just picked a peck of pickled position!
Readers and viewers: Wonder why some people have great posture on one side and everything askew on the other? Part 3 coming if there’s popular demand. And by that we mean lots of comments, gifts, requests, stumbles, applause. You know the drill.
Photo Credits: Creative Commons – leo.jeje
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
To get where you’re going, you need to know where you start. Or something like that. We were tempted to start with “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Perfect Posture,” but you might have thought we were pickled.
Your first step is to know your current posture — unchanged, unmodified, no artificial sticks-up-the-wherever added. But how can you establish your normal stance without already thinking about trying to “correct” it?
Cue the trumpets as Fun and Fit talk you through an easy way to get to your regular, 100% all natural beefcake posture. Once you have that established, you are in the perfect position to make assessments, observations, and improvements. And with enough comments on this post, we might make those video sequels showing you how to assess and progress. For now, don’t mess with what you have going now. Just know what you are dealing with. Us! And You!
Photo credits: Creative Commons
Alexandra: Thanks for the compliments, Lily. I shall be sure to lord it over my sister. Kickboxing and back pain are sadly a combo about as common as college life and parties (but you graduated, so wouldn’t know anything about that)! Way back in 2000 (wow, did they have kickboxing and pain that long ago?) I wrote an article entitled “Injury Prevention in Kickboxing Classes” for IDEA Fitness Source (now IDEA Fitness Journal) that showed that injury rates to the back from kicks was as high as 23%. Can you believe it? Me neither. I was so young then and am surprised I knew how to do research. Guess I was precocious.
Kymberly: Forget talking about kickboxing, Ms Precocious Thang. I think Lily’s real question has to do with sleeping position and reducing back pain. Lily: I do like the part where you pretend to have liked my sister. She is actually a rather nice person deep down. Deep deep down. Any-who…. my suggestion is to lie on your side with your knees slightly bent. Place a pillow between your knees to keep your hips and therefore spine aligned. Read this article on reducing back pain while sleeping, keeping in mind that one goal of the article is to sell the nifty pillow. If you buy it, get me one too, will you?
A: Here’s my point: In addition to sleeping in a better position, you want to avoid hurting yourself in kickboxing again, I assume. Even though you won’t be in my classes anymore, I can still repeat my nags: use your core, chamber your moves, no leg flinging, and keep your kicks low. If you do everything I say (like that’s ever happened anywhere, anytime), you might avoid pulling your back muscles next time.
K: Let’s also chat a moment about any repeat back tweaks, especially if you want to get back into your kickboxing program and are a little hesitant. If you hurt your back again, take an easy walk or get on cardio equipment for a low resistance, low intensity ten minute walk the days immediately following the tweak. You can see more on how to minimize muscles soreness in our posts, “My Calves Got a Big Stiffy,” and “Running, Be Sore No More” (I am assuming “tweak” means “sore muscles,” not something else involving vertebrae or ligaments or suchlike.) By raising your core temperature and heating your muscles with the cardio activity, you may reduce the nighttime soreness. Unless you work out just before bedtime, in which case you will have insomnia and not be able to sleep anyway, so you won’t have to worry about being woken up by back pain. Problem solved! Feel free to send us your next question about timing exercise so you can get to sleep!
A: I’ll just point out that you wouldn’t have gotten hurt in MY class, Miss Lily!
Readers: Have you ever kicked too high or with bad form and ended up with back pain that prevented you from sleeping properly?
Photo credits: Creative Commons[plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]