It’s gratitude time, but not how you expect. The focus at Thanksgiving is usually on appreciating and giving thanks for what we have. This post looks at what you perhaps DON’T have. Stay with me as I explain.
Now that your children are older, do you enjoy having your schedule, time, and flexibility back? Is your life now one of more ease with fewer responsibilities? Do you find your energy lifting as you carve out a wee bit more “me” time?
Well fuggetaboutit if you are a caregiver! For the 40 million unpaid caregivers in the US, a moment of downtime, without demands or responsibilities is an elusive memory.
Many caregivers are boomer women, often sandwiched between the needs of their parents and their own kids. My sister is a prime example. She cares for her 19 year old special-needs son and orchestrates care for her husband who suffered several strokes this past year. What don’t you have that people like my sister and the women listed below do?
Yup! Happy Thanksgiving, which comes at the end of National Family Caregivers month. In honor of the many caregivers in our nation, the Ad Council and AARP ask for your support of the Random Acts of Kindness initiative. No, they’re not asking for funds, but for kindness – the kind that makes you feel good, while helping lift another. What can you do to give a caregiver a break? Glad you asked!
One other thing — read the following stories and random acts of kindness suggestions from women who have been in the trenches. Click on the title of each listed post. You’ll be inspired, uplifted, amazed, and — as is perfect for the season — grateful. For what your life does and does not have. And for who and what it does!
National Family Caregivers month is November. In honor of the many caregivers in our nation, the Ad Council and AARP ask for your support of the Random Acts of Kindness initiative. If you want to help recognize and support the 40 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S, perform a random act of kindness for a caregiver. If you have written about caregiving or your kindness for one, please submit your post link here.
It is fitting that Boomer Highway support this initiative as many caregivers are boomer women, often sandwiched between the needs of their parents and their own kids. Boomer Highway actually began as a way to help men and women like me who found themselves on the busy highway of caregiving for an aging parent and also helping children at their various stages of life.
This is a picture of my wonderful Aunt Rene. She is the last of my "parents": at least, she is the last of that generation of folks in my husband's family who ever functioned as a surrogate grandparent to my kids, since three out of four of our parents passed away before my kids were even born.
November is National Caregivers Month, a time to recognize the often-overlooked dedication of over 40 million unpaid U.S. caregivers who provide care for a family member or friend. Most caregivers are not medical professionals. They are caring and compassionate people who are responsible for the physical and emotional needs of someone struggling with the tasks of daily living.
November is National Family Caregivers Month - the perfect time to acknowledge and celebrate the 40 million unpaid caregivers in the United States. Surprisingly most caregivers - those who attend to someone else's daily needs - are not paid professionals but are simply family members or friends who are also working and managing their own families at the same time.
"One of the most difficult things to give away is kindness; usually it comes back to you." - Anonymous "Note: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Element Associates and Midlife Boulevard." Did you know that over 40 million Americans are caregivers?
When my mother-in-law became ill and could no longer be home alone, there was no question I would leave my job and care for her. When my father was diagnosed with cancer there was no doubt I would fly or drive from Pennsylvania to Florida as often as possible to help my mother with his care.
CELEBRATING NATIONAL CAREGIVER MONTH WITH RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS This is a sponsored post on behalf of Element Associates and Midlife Boulevard. All opinions expressed are as always completely mine. November is National Caregiver Month and I wanted to share the Random Acts of Kindness contest sponsored by AARP.
November is National Family Caregivers Month. It is also, coincidentally, the month when families and friends gather together and give thanks for whatever it is they feel thankful for. When you combine these observations in the same month, November becomes a great time to thank those special people who may not be recognized for the work they do on behalf of others: caregivers, who are all too often unpaid and unsung.
November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to be especially kind to those who care for aging family members. Many of those who are family caregivers are boomer women, sandwiched between the needs of their parents and their own kids. They give, give, give to loved ones, while often sacrificing their own needs.
Alexandra Williams, MA If you're like most people, your mental image of a caregiver is of middle-aged women taking care of elderly parents. For me, only half of that is true. I'm middle-aged (or early Renaissance; medieval if you're one of my boys).
Looking for more insight into the lives, success strategies, and ways caregivers can stay healthy themselves? Perhaps you are also a caregiver deserving a kind deed! Then take a look at these posts from our site.
ACTION: Click on the links and listly posts above. Comment on the listly stories. Perform a random act of kindness for those who caregive. Let others know you are aware and care!
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Element Associates and Midlife Boulevard.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
We just spent a few nights there, and managed to relax and be active simultaneously. The Oaks at Ojai is a small, family-owned spa right in the middle of downtown Ojai. Does that mean it’s busy or noisy? Just the opposite, as Ojai is a mellow town of only 8,000 people. Our totally unscientific guess is that 5,000 of them are artists, and the other 3,000 are hikers and bicyclists.
Skin Authority Fit & Firm Treatments (Fit & Firm for Fun & Fit – perfect)
Bike Riding on a path that leads all the way to the ocean at Ventura
A sunset meditation on Mount Meditation
Fitness classes (ever tried Glow in the Dark Qi Gong?)
Had 3 meals a day prepared to our specific diet
Played Bingo (though we didn’t win the muffins, dang it)
Made new friends
Visited Bart’s Bookstore (which leaves books outdoors at night – you pay on the honor system)
Lost a little weight
Hiked the Valley View Preserve (with absolutely stunning panoramic views)
We even met a woman who was leaving after a 3-week stay. She said she wanted a place to recuperate and make new friends after going through knee surgery and rehab. Once she got there, she didn’t want to leave. So she didn’t.
We didn’t want to leave either, but it was time to go to L.A. to celebrate our mom’s 86th birthday. The drive to L.A. is just over an hour. From where we live in Santa Barbara it’s only a 45 minute drive, so we’ll be back. Heck, I need to put my brand new bike lock to use, though I never actually locked my bike while we were there. I just parked it in the private patio garden at our bungalow.
Alexandra Williams, MA
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We were not paid to write this post. We were invited guests of the Oaks at Ojai for 2 nights, and boy did we appreciate their hospitality. So much so that I even taught the guests the “Thriller” dance (insert wolf howl right here).
When 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.
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.
It’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.
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.
A year ago I took a photography class at Santa Barbara City College. This month I won two separate small photo awards. No money or worldwide acclaim (or any acclaim, actually), but quite a boost to my self-esteem.
From last year to this has been quite a change, hasn’t it? Most of the past year was terrible, due to medical family issues that led to me being in charge of two people, but some of it was enjoyable and fulfilling because I took my camera with me everywhere I went.
As a fitness pro, much of my writing and advice is geared toward the physical aspect of fitness, yet I also have my MA in systemic counseling because I find emotional fitness to be just as important and deserving of attention.
Technically, I’m at the beginning stages of my photo skills. I only last month learned how to use an external flash so I could start taking pictures at night. But that isn’t as important as the feeling I get from seeing myself as a photographer.
At the age of 26 (I actually remember the specific moment), I decided to become a more optimistic person. I had always had a low opinion of myself, especially my looks, yet when I look back at photos of my younger self, I don’t understand how I could have been so hard on myself.
I researched the ways that CHOOSING how to view events shapes our health. It seems obvious, yet it really is true that where you focus is how you see the world. For example, if one bad thing happens in the day, do you think, “What a bad day,” or do you think, “What a bad PART of my day?”
The young me wouldn’t have taken up photography because I would have been afraid to fail at it. Words have always been my comfort zone, not pictures. But the middle-aged me didn’t mind being uncomfortable because I had a bigger goal – do something that might be fun, would be just mine, and could possibly help improve our blog. Instead of focusing on the fact that I was one of the oldest people in the class, or that many of the students knew how to use a DSLR (I didn’t even know what DSLR meant), or even that I had no idea whether my photos were good or terrible, I chose to focus on the fact that I was doing something that was mine, all mine.
For countless hours over the past year, I walked around taking pictures while waiting to give rides to family members who had doctor, therapy, job, rehab, school and all other manner of appointments. And I have gotten better from the practice. Not just better as a photographer, but better in a “zen” way. Having something that’s just mine, and some time that’s just mine is so important. Even more so during times of prolonged stress. Passive activities such as watching TV or reading a book don’t give me the same feeling of accomplishing or creating something tangible.
Oh, as to the two photos that were noticed, the shopping cart was taken with my Canon, while the stairs at Hendry’s Beach was my iPhone. And the photo of me wearing my Tamrac Anvil photo gear backpack was taken by my photo professor Say Dempsay. See how she knows how to use lighting perfectly? I’m working on that. I want to give a shoutout to Tamrac because they were the first photo brand to recognize me as a professional photographer (I have my photos for sale in Alamy Stockhouse, FYI). I will stick with Tamrac because they valued my photo skills enough to send me the Anvil backpack for all my gear (including the zoom and macro lenses on my Christmas wish list).
by Alexandra Williams, MA
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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…”
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?
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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?”
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
What percentage of women in the US are inactive? It’s not even Halloween, and the statistic should scare us all. 82% This high number of sedentary women is particularly worrisome when you consider that “active” is defined as engaging in a mere 2.5 hours of exercise per week. Whaaaaat??!! That’s an average of less than 22 minutes per day of movement. So 82% of our nation’s women are struggling to work in even 22 minutes a day of activity.
Let’s hope you are a stat buster making up for the rest of the nation! If not, you can be by sneaking in at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. Need ideas how to start, restart, or up the ante? Check out some of our posts that will help you activate to health and super stats status:
Have a good guess at the percentage of US women who are overweight? If you’ve ever been to a shopping mall in middle America, you may have a good idea. 67%. Was your guess close?
Take a gander at the Healthy Aging for Women infographic below from the University of Florida online, which offers some interesting and perhaps even motivating stats and scoop.
Call to Action: Once you’ve done that, take one more action to improve your health — subscribe to our site if you are not already part of our community. You can use either the pop-up box or the box in the sidebar.
by Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
I’m known for saying that I don’t like camping because dirt is involved. I’ve always loved being in the outdoors, especially if hiking is involved, but I’ve never enjoyed sleeping in the outdoors. I also frequently say that I’d happily go camping if it involved air conditioning, private hot showers and was a hotel room. Joke’s on me as it turns out that kind of camping actually exists.
This past weekend I was invited to the Entertainment New Media Network Conference. Day One – the KOA (Kampgrounds of America) Ventura Ranch in Santa Paula. Yup, do you see the word “campground” kind of hidden in there?
We got a tour, and I saw the inside of a very appealing teepee. Okay, it had beds and was cute, and even had privacy. But it was about 100 degrees that day and the teepee was hot. In short – camping. I was inside long enough to take a few pictures and admire it from a “that’s great for people who like camping” detached perspective. Really, I was just being polite and marking time till we got to do ziplining. That’s some Active Aging right there, eh? My videos show that I thought the ziplining was a highlight. You know, ‘cause I was up real high. Oh, the videos are sideways due to a change in the app I used to record. But you get a better feeling of the adventure with it sideways anyway.
After the small teepee, we saw a bigger, cuter teepee. Still camping. Just with more people. Bye bye. But then I heard the magic words: “Come on up to the deluxe cabins, which have air conditioning.” Yes, besides “please,” there are other magic words, especially when we’re on Day 9,017 of a heat wave. Who would have thought that “deluxe” and “camping” would ever join together in peace and harmony (code for hot showers and A/C).
When I was a kid, my parents would load up our family of 7 into the VW camper van and we’d go places, pitching a tent each night. Well, my dad pitched the tent. We probably ate S’mores and listened to him cursing the tent stakes. When my boys were small, I would join in the family camping adventures because I wanted to be a good mom. Jury’s still out whether I achieved that status, but the boys are now grown up and have happy camping memories. They also now go camping with their dad, leaving me at home. They know I’d give them “the look” if they invited me along.
But now I have a solution that’s perfect. The boys and I can all now go together. We’ll sit in the car and take turns driving. We can even hitch up the tiny (emphasis on TINY) Eriba camper trailer. And we’ll only stay at KOA Kampgrounds that have Deluxe Cabins… with linens. That’s their official designation – Deluxe Cabins with LInens. I’ll fall asleep caressing those linens after a hot shower and some time spent watching rescued dog videos on Facebook, compliments of the free wifi. I’ll wake up and cook breakfast in an actual kitchen. Then I’ll go for a short walk over to the site where the boys have parked the Eriba, wake them up and invite them over to my cabin for breakfast. But only if they wipe the dirt off their feet.
I might even let them use my shower. But only if they promise to go ziplining with me after we swim in the pool. And jump on the giant pillow. And if they’re not too tired from rubbing two sterno cans together to make a fire, I might even let them beat me to the top of the climbing wall. Right after we go for a hike.
Yup, I like the math. Time with my boys + deluxe cabin – dirt and heat + hot shower – paying high hotel prices + fun activities and hiking – sharing a bathroom with strangers = Perfect Camping. And it was all less than an hour from my home, in gorgeous Ventura Country. Sign me up.
by Alexandra Williams, MA
While I’m signing up for the KOA Deluxe Cabins, we invite you to sign up for our twice-weekly posts by entering your email right over there ——-> All topics for Boomers about Active Aging. While you’re at it, please follow me on Instagram and Periscope.
Active Aging: Making frequent small choices that enable you to move as freely as possible throughout your world.
Say what?! Well, I could have said “Move a lot and exercise,” but it’s not really that. Besides, that sounds like one or two choices per day. The truth is that it is NOT so much the choice to go to an exercise class or do an activity that works up a sweat. It is the repeated small choices we make every day.
I’ll give you an example that illustrates the “Use it or Lose it” principle. I was at an event this past weekend where we had access to a pool, which was at the bottom of a hill. After swimming, we had lunch at the top of the hill. It was very hot, so the 3-minute walk up and down the hill wasn’t fun. A ride was provided for those who didn’t want to walk. Nearly everyone took the ride, saying they didn’t like to walk uphill. That was a choice. Yet if we play this out, look what happens:
Many older people we know (and a few younger ones too, sadly) are no longer able to walk at all, due entirely to the many small choices they made over the years to NOT move. They didn’t use their legs, so they lost the ability to use their legs. They aged inactively.
What do you think might have happened if they had chosen the stairs instead of the elevator? Those were repeated, small choices. What if they had gone for a 10-minute walk around the block while waiting for their loved one to come out from an appointment or school? What if they had gone in the pool with their kids instead of sitting on the chaise longue? Or stood up to change the TV channel instead of using the remote control? All small choices that lead to active aging.
You don’t need to get sweaty and exhausted. You don’t need to climb a steep hill … today. You just need to make small, incremental choices every single day that lead you toward doing the things you want to do five, ten and twenty years from now. What you don’t use, you’ll lose. Once you’re in the habit of walking, you’ll find that sitting for long periods of time is actually physically uncomfortable. And you want that. You want to be more comfortable moving than not moving.
This is my plea to you – Make small choices
And this is my wish for you – Live a long, active, healthy, enjoyable life that ends abruptly, not slowly
by Alexandra Williams, MA
What are some of the small choices you make every day that lead you toward or away from activity? What do you want to be doing when you’re 65, 75, 85, 95?
Make one small choice right now and subscribe to our fantabulous posts by entering your email right over there to the right.———> They will magically arrive in your inbox two times per week. Also, subscribe to me, AlexandraFunFit on Periscope, and watch my amazing travel and fitness scopes (videos).
Our quick video tutorial gives you helpful specifics on how to perform oblique (side) abdominal crunches correctly. And as a bonus, we also show how NOT to do them.
Good news – you don’t have to learn technical terms. But just in case you’re wondering why we say “obliques” instead of “waist” or “that area that encircles your spine that used to be oh-so-tiny way back in high school,” we’ve got some quick Ed-U-Cay-Shun-al info about the technical terms.
Your external obliques run diagonally, forming a V in front. Imagine you’re putting your hands into a vest or front coat pocket. Feel those rock hard muscles? Yeah, me neither. But I do know that my obliques are there somewhere.
Your internal obliques run at right angles to your external obliques and form an inverted V. Put your hands on your hips with your thumbs in front and fingers behind, pointing down as if putting your hands into back pockets.
For those of you who like the nitty-gritty, oblique-y details, here’s an excellent definition by our colleague Dr. Len Kravitz, who teaches at the University of New Mexico and is way smart!
Now you know the official terms for “I want my waist to be fit and trim, but don’t want to copy any of those lame exercises I see people do in the gym that are destined to hurt their back or neck.” More importantly, you can now confidently add oblique crunches to your exercise routine. Score!!
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Photo credits: CreativeCommons. org
by Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA