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Create the Best Possible Over 50 Workouts: Part 2

Step, Kymberly Best baby boomer workouts

I (K)need to Step Aside

Baby Boomer Workouts

Do you have great things planned for your second half of  life?  Having said that, do you find yourself working around added aches and pains?  Are you making changes to your exercise program based on aging realities? I know I phased out kickboxing, high impact aerobics, and snowboarding based on ever worsening knee arthritis. (More at the end of the post on what’s about to happen with my knee in less than a week. Not a sob story, but some solutions so keep reading).  Yet I don’t want to give up my beloved step classes. Nor do I want any more injuries, limitations, or bad body mechanics.

Once we hit midlife, we need to create workouts that take into account principles that are targeted to our specific needs. Principles that inhibit bad body habits and encourage physical comfort and ability. Exercise design principles that I’ll be sharing with you in a short series.  Using even one of these principles will bring you to better, long term, wiser workouts. And you’ll catapult yourself to the insider, fitness pro mindset.

2nd of 7 Principles for Creating Great Baby Boomer Workouts

This post shares the second of seven principles for creating outstanding workouts for baby boomers. Initially, I put together this list in a a cover feature for the leading fitness professional journal. Then I realized you active agers might want this helpful info as well.  To take advantage of the first principle go here:

Create the Best Workout Programs for Your Over 50 Body

Principle 2: Train Using Functional Options

More than any other age group, we midlife and older exercisers appreciate and need functional movement.

What Does “Functional Exercise” Really Mean?

Many definitions exist for functional movement, so let’s start with wikipedia’s: “Functional movements are based on real-world situational biomechanics. They usually involve multi-planar, multi-joint movements which place demand on the body’s core musculature and innervation.”  Come back. Don’t let me lose you.  In simple terms — choose exercises that involve several muscles and joints all-in-one.

Another common way to define functional exercise is to ascertain whether you can apply a given move to activities of daily living (ADLs). What moves do you perform in real life? Train for those. For example, do you need to get up and down from the ground? Do you pick up groceries from the floor and turn to put them away in an overhead cabinet?  Contrast this to single joint, isolated strength and muscular endurance training such as calf raises or triceps kickbacks. Instead, for example, perform an exercise that lifts a free weight left to right with rotation from low to high/ floor to overhead. Or perform squats that mimic ducking sideways under a rope or bar.

What Do You Want to DO with Your Fit Self?Planking in Australia

Like me, are you a boomer who is more interested in continuing activities you enjoy rather than worry about hypertrophy? Are you motivated to gain strength, power, and endurance so you can travel, take up new hobbies, keep up with grown children and grandchildren? If you value having energy over having a six-pack you are part of a trend. A majority of midlife exercisers are looking at their parents and making decisions about their own aging. We want to retain our physical and mental capabilities to the same or greater degree than our parents – and why not? Even more critical – let’s make sure fitness habits that might have worked in our youth aren’t causing pain in our middle years.

If you're more interested in continuing activities you enjoy rather than solely hypertrophy,… Click To Tweet

Will the exercises you choose help you climb steps, get up and down from chairs and the floor, prevent falls, turn to see behind you while driving? Do your moves help you continue surfing, hiking, camping? Think in terms of adding rotation, level changes (low to high and high to low), or working in opposition. Approach your workout design with the idea to help keep your world from shrinking. What are you worried about having to give up? What do you enjoy doing that you’d love to continue as long as possible? Train from that perspective and you will have better results and fewer physical challenges.

Good Riddance to Pain, Hello to Renewed Function

Speaking of physical challenges, I am heading into knee replacement surgery in a few days. Dealing with arthritic keen pain is one thing. Seeing my function diminish significantly these past months is another.  Part of my surgery prep plan involved:

  • Seeing how Alexandra fared with her replacement surgery last year. Helps to have an identical twin sister who moonlights as a mine canary. She came out both alive and with better, almost pain free function;
  • Biking more both indoors and out. In fact, I just completed my second Schwinn certificate training to teach indoor cycling;
  • Taking advantage of a timely offer from Omron to try their new HEAT Pain Pro TENS unit (yes they compensated me for this post. Disclosure Done!).

omron-tens-device

Give Me Some TENS, or Twenties or Fifties….

First I finally learned what TENS stands for:  transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. I knew medical professionals for years have used TENS to treat pain. Now reliable, affordable products are becoming available for use at home. So home I went jiggity jog, packing heat. Without the jog. And with more than heat!

The Omron HEAT Pain Pro combines TENS and heat to help alleviate chronic pain and aching muscles. Warms and zaps all in one. Omron is calling my number on this one. Number TENS. (Insert laugh track here). My muscles and joints have made too many compensations serving the demands of my curmudgeonly knee. This new device was easy to use and did relieve muscle tension.  It didn’t eradicate my osteoarthritis. Ok, that might have been asking too much. Maybe Omron will  come out with a TWENTIES or FIFTIES device to handle that big of a job.

Anyway, my point is that this lightweight, portable device helped reduce muscle tension. Between teaching my fitness classes despite increasing knee pain (not recommended), walking my dogs every day, and wanting to enter surgery as relaxed as possible, I’ll take all the help I can get!

How Did the Canary in the Mine Fare?

Alexandra also tried the Omron HEAT Pain Pro, and found it definitely decreased some of the stiffness and discomfort from her knee replacement surgery. Even though the surgery was back in June, 2016, she still has some occasional swelling and stiffness after hard workouts. After undergoing electrical stimulation during physical therapy that could be quite uncomfortable, Alexandra was expecting this to be the same. Luckily, she discovered that the TENS was fairly mild. Her favorite setting is Combo 2- short session of alternating heat and TENS. She offers one suggestion: make the heat setting just a bit warmer. Overall, Alexandra was pleased with the pain relief that the HEAT Pain Pro provided to her knee.

There you have it. Ready to stick on the Omron device, reduce pain, plus create the best baby boomer workouts ever? Me too, right after knee surgery. See you on the other side.

ACTION: Usually we suggest you subscribe if you have not yet done so. This time we hope you click on the Omron link to check out whether the unit might help you. No aches, pains, or tension involved when you window shop.

Kymberly Williams-Evans

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16

Packing the Right Outfit for Travel

I need your help choosing the right outfit for our upcoming trip to Europe.

AmaWaterways Rhein Cruise

AmaWaterways Cruise Ship

In less than two weeks, Kymberly and I are going on “The Enchanting Rhein River” cruise with AmaWaterways. For 7 days we’ll cruise the Rhein River, hike and bike the pathways of Switzerland, Germany, France and Netherlands, and go on city walking tours. We’ll be posting about our adventures on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and sharing longer posts after our return, so we hope you enjoy this fantastic adventure with us vicariously.

As we want to pack just one suitcase each (we plan to take various train trips after we disembark from the cruise), we are packing clothes that are easy-care, casual and semi-formal (simultaneously, no less), roll up into small balls for the suitcase, and attractive. The obvious brand that comes to mind is Chico’s, especially their new Travelers and Zenergy lines.

What 2 pack when U need 2 pack stylishly, yet sparingly? #MidlifeBlvd Click To Tweet

Here’s where you come in – I need to pick just one outfit. But I’m having trouble narrowing down the choices. Please can you help me decide? Help me pick one top, one jacket, and one skirt or pair of leggings. I’ve already spent over an hour on their website and this is my shortlist. To help you pick what might look best on me, I’m 5’5″, long torso, with fair skin and red (and grey) hair. This is me:

Chico's red vest

Red hair and a red Chico’s vest. And some very pale skin.

Soooooo, can you please help me choose the outfit that will look best on me? Thanks in advance.
Jackets

Chico's red hoodie

Zenergy Red Hoodie

Chico's duster jacket

Travelers Open Front Duster

Chico's hoodie

Zenergy black and white hoodie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tops

Chico's brown top

Travelers classic brown top

blue pullover top from Chico's

Zenergy off the shoulder blue top

black top from Chico's

Travelers studded black tunic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skirts & Trousers

black leggings from Chico's

Travelers Classic Slim Pant

Chico's flare skirt

Travelers Classic flare skirt

black Chico's leggings

Zenergy pocket pull-on pant

 

In the words of Forrest Gump, “And that’s all I have to say about that.” Except to say I appreciate your help choosing the best outfit for me to take on the cruise.

Alexandra Williams, MA

This post is NOT sponsored, though I will get the Chico’s outfit you help me pick.

3

How to Be Confident

trust impressa, how to be confidentApparently many women over 50 wonder how to be confident (so sayeth keyword master, the Googler). When it comes to building self confidence, guess what one sure-fire method is? Yeah, loaded question coming from two fitness professionals, right? Answer: EXERCISE. You knew it was coming.

To improve confidence and reduce anxiety, a little exercise goes a long way — even if you don’t. (Har de har, though true that even modest activity such as a short walk greatly enhances confidence).  Click to learn more about Alexandra’s personal story gaining confidence in her post, Incontinence, Confidence, Group Exercise, and Big-Headed Babies.

But what if your movement anxiety is high because you have incontinence or an overactive bladder? What if exercise causes frequent urination? Nothing like the worry about leakage to thwart confidence and stall workout motivation. And you know we nag, cajole, motivate, advise, and promote working out. It’s our blog’s raison d’être.
Alexandra teaching Drums Alive
Readers like you and our fitness class participants sometimes ask us how to deal with exercise-induced bladder leakage. They also question how we are able to teach so confidently — on stage, with eyes staring at our backside, mirrors and lights highlighting us — knowing we also suffer from leaks ourselves now and then. Therefore we put together the following list of tips to answer both questions: how to be confident and how to exercise confidently with an overactive bladder or light bladder leakage.

What issue do some exercising Boomer women have in common that's easily solved? #trustimpressa… Click To Tweet

1. Exercise until you sweat.

Not only does exercise itself improve self-esteem, self-efficacy, and overall confidence, but also it often gets you sweaty. Who knows whether that’s sweat or urine or both making your leggings wet? Sweat – the ultimate leak disguise.  This is the double whammy bonus big time tip as ANY exercise has a huge positive effect on self-confidence.

waterfall, Kymberly, how to be confident

Does rushing water make you want to go go go … on a hike?

2. Prepare for the possibility of a leaky workout.

Wear dark workout gear. Heck, we haven’t worn white tights or yoga pants for three decades anyway. Have you? And (here comes the sponsored post disclosure. Poise Impressa has compensated us to share about their new sizing kit) — do check out their bladder support product. I don’t know about you, but I was glad to say good-bye to pads and liners post-menopause. Take a quick trip to Walmart to get their Poise Impressa Sizing Kit. It’s an internal product designed to stop leaks before they happen.

3. Manage Stress and Anxiety

One of my (Alexandra) favorite songs is by the Tedeschi Trucks Band – Do I Look Worried. Mostly because the song is fantastic, but also because it dovetails with an expression we have in the counseling world, “Fake it Till you Make it.” It’s true – one way to manage stress and anxiety is to have a chat with yourself. “Once this issue is resolved, how will I feel?” Then you decide to feel that way in the moment rather than waiting for the resolution. You can also choose a specific time of day for all your worries. As soon as you find yourself stressing out, tell yourself to save it for the official stress time. At the designated time, bring your stressors to mind, then deliberately stop at the end of the set time. Another trick is to clench your fist as tightly as possible and count to 5. Then relax the fist and count to 5. It’s physiologically impossible to be simultaneously stressed and relaxed. So you trick your body. Deep breathing works too (which is different than heavy breathing for those of us who drool over Colin Firth).

It's physiologically impossible to be simultaneously stressed and relaxed. #trustimpressa… Click To Tweet

4. Find activities you enjoy.

First, take a look at this 15 second video showing activities we enjoy.

(If the video isn’t showing, click this link: Activities Alexandra and Kymberly enjoy: Trust Impressa)

Generally people enjoy those activities they are good at. Improving a skill boosts confidence. Even if you suckity wuckity at something you enjoy (that would be Kymberly steering a kayak or Alexandra at nothing – [ha ha, Kymberly left a blank spot here for me to fill out, but I do not “suckity wuckity” at anything as that’s a phrase I do not use]), you will still be more confident AND have the freedom to go for it leak-free. Movement freedom, release from anxiety, and having fun = winning combo!

5. Connect with other women who share your experiences.

Once you get out there (there = gym, club, park trails, your neighborhood), you’ll find women like you who value movement, exercise, and an active life.  Being with others of similar values — exercise. in this case — improves confidence and self-perception. You’ll also discover how many other women deal with pants’ peeing. This is a chance to talk with gal pals and minimize the taboos around this issue. You are not alone in your mid-workout leg crossing . I can hear the new chant now: “Free the Pee! Free the Pee!” Or not…

For more related posts, click away on any of the below links:

Can Boomer Women Be Sexy

Exercise and Confidence in Midlife: I Am Enough

An Embarrassing Secret About Active Aging

Exercise, Confidence & Attractiveness

ACTION: Enter your email in any of the opt-in boxes to get more active aging answers to boost your overall comfort, confidence, and capability. Join us and others like you twice a week when you subscribe to our blog. 

by Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA with subtle contributions here and there from Alexandra Williams, MA

11

Exercise, Nutrition, and Brain Games Make Your Dog Smarter. You Too!

Smart dogs Kila and Sydney digging

We just know there’s a giveaway prize from Dognition somewhere near.

Do Smart People Have Smart Dogs?

Who wouldn’t mind an easy way to increase your health and fitness levels, reduce stress, AND improve your brain? Hint: the answer involves a lick, leash, and lots o’ love. Yup, be a dog owner.

Did you know that dog owners are likely to have lower blood pressure, more active social lives, fewer heart attacks, and totally increased guilt levels when you don’t walk them. I made up that last “benefit.” All the other results (and more) are supported by science.

Dog owners are likely to have lower blood pressure, more active social lives, fewer heart… Click To Tweet

As our long time readers know, I am a two dog person (see My Naughty Dog Story, though it may not be the highlight of dog ownership come to think of it….) Just added two kittens to the household as well, for balance’s sake. I am balancing my dogs’ perception that I am the most exciting, beloved, wonderful human ever to grace the planet with the cats’ attitude that I exist to adjust their crowns. Keeps me confidently humble.

Prized Pooch and a Prize for Your Pooch

By the way, stick around to the end of this post because one of you is going to win a prize for your pooch. More on that in a minute or about 7 minutes in dog years.

Want to win a prize for your pooch? Enter our giveaway #mysmartdog @ProPlan #ad @PurinaPro Click To Tweet
Smart dogs Sydney on rock

Wish I’d been smart enough NOT to jump out that window and hurt my knee. Grrrr

Another thing long time readers of our blog probably noticed is that I am totally jazzed about the ways that exercise confers to humans better memory, cognition, and brain volume. What??!! You missed those posts? Get smarter right here and now by taking a gander at the following (right after you finish this post).

 Move Your Body to Improve Your Brain 

 Spark Your Brain with Exercise

It’s true that people who own dogs tend to be more active. Makes sense since we tend to walk our dogs and play with them. Did you know that dogs also enhance our mental wellbeing? Canine fit fact – dogs improve our mood, decrease depression, and increase happiness.

Walk to Lose Weight and Gain Fitness

Our Dogs Make Us Smarter; Can We Make Our Dogs Smarter?

But let’s turn that around for a moment. Can we help make our dogs smarter and happier? I know, I know. You already own the SMARTEST, BEST, HAPPIEST dog in the world. Except you don’t, because I do.  Wanna see pictures of my smart dogs? 

Smart dogs, Kila in tree

Look at me in this tree. Do I earn a “treeeeat?”

Back to the matter at hand paw — unless you’ve been out walking your dog in the wilderness for a decade where no wifi exists, you know that what we eat and what we do impacts our mental and physical health. Did you know that the same is true for dogs? Scientists at Nestle Purina have been studying aging in pets for more than a decade and discovered that nutrition can positively impact a dog’s cognitive health. Who knew? I had not. Based on their research results, Purina Pro Plan did two things:

  1. It introduced Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Adult formulas that feature a proprietary blend of brain-supporting nutrients that support cognitive health in adult dogs. That blend includes enhanced botanical oils, so now my dogs, Kila and Sydney are making spa appointments. Darn, they’re clever!
  2. It partnered up with Dognition, an online platform that offers fun, science-based games that reveal the unique way each dog sees the world.  Dognition asks you a bunch of questions about your pet — and who doesn’t like to talk about your dog, eh? Based on your dog’s profile, you get a bunch of suggested activities tailored to your furbaby’s personality and temperament.  I tried a few of these games with Kila and we both had a ball. (Sydney is currently recovering from knee surgery so he is on limited activity. Yes, he and my sister had knee surgery this summer. They say dogs resemble their owners, but apparently a certain dog wanted to be like his Auntie Alexandra. You know, driven around town with the wind in her/ his face and chin up…..)

Well actually Purina and Dognition did three things, as they also sponsored this post. Bark alert! Full disclosure that I partnered with Dognition and Purina  to bring you this info. Of course I said yes, because what dog lover doesn’t want to combine food and fun for a smarter, healthier pooch?

smart dogAnyway, as part of the partnership, dog owners who purchase  Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Adult or Adult 7+ dry dog food at select pet specialty retailers can receive a FREE Dognition Assessment code, a $19 value, with proof of purchase. Find out more here: Dognition/ BRIGHTMIND  OOooorr, as I mentioned earlier, you might WIN that code free. Keep reading.

Canine Fun Fact

Let’s end this dog tale with a tail wag after another Canine Fun Fact: If like Kila, your dog ever did something naughty, you might get “that look” that seems to say “Oops, sorry, I am so regretful.” Except dogs don’t live in regret. That sad face with head down and ears back?? — your dog is playing you. A study found that owners who think their dogs feel guilty don’t scold them as much.  

Told you dogs were smart. Now go play, instead of getting played.  Oh, and learn enough to stay ahead of your dog by checking out this infographic and entering our giveaway. So barkalicious!

 

smart dogs

 

Comment Disclosure: Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

GIVEAWAY! If you want to win free access to Dognition (believe me, you do want to dig around in this site!) then enter a comment below about an activity your dog loves. If you don’t own a dog, why not? I’ll be selecting the winner on or before July 30, 2016. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Purina Pro BRIGHT MIND.  The opinions and text are all mine.

Kymberly Williams-Evans

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4

Ab Fab is Coming, Ab Fab is Here: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Quick quiz for all you fabulous people – what movie comes out tomorrow that’s based on a HUGELY popular British TV comedy from the 90s?

HInts:

Ab Fab, Patsy

You tell her, Pats

“You little bitch troll from Hell.”
“If you want things, you have to pay for them.” “Since when?”

quote from Ab Fab

You really don’t want that, Eddy

“No, you do NOT want to meet my mum.”
“I can’t believe you’re still … alive.”
“Cheers, You don’t get that on British Airways.”
“Oh, hello dear.”

Patsy, Ab Fab

I want these glasses. And the sneer.

“Inside of me there’s a thin person screaming to get out.” “Just the one, dear?”
“Ooh, bear with me, see, I’m hopeless with names, faces and people.”
“Blah blah blah blah blah.”

And in case none of these worked, the coup de grâce: “Sweetie darling.”

Yes, yes, yes, you guessed it – Ab Fab, aka Absolutely Fabulous. And I got to go to an advance screening of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie in Hollywood the other night. I even did my best to dress just like Patsy, though I may have ended up more like Eddy, simply because I don’t have long legs, a blonde beehive or modeling experience. Yes, I’m sure that was it.

Ab Fab: The Movie

Yes, I am as fabulous a dresser as Eddy

To explain the depths of my devotion, let me just say that I own the complete 1990’s TV series… on VHS. And I entered a recent contest to win an Ab Fab makeover in New York. I didn’t win. Except in the end, I did, because I was invited to the screening. And they gave us champers, darling. Bubbly. Which is not the same as Bubble, if you know what I mean. I was holding out for a few sips of Chanel No. 5, but maybe next time.

As my guest, I brought a male friend who knew nothing of the show or its stars. Nothing. What a troglodyte. But I rescued him from cultural obscurity by picking out his clothes and letting him drive me to the ArcLight Cinerama Dome on Sunset and Vine.

vintage shop, Hollywood

We stopped at a vintage shop to search for the perfect outfit. I spy a few that Bubble would like.

He actually laughed harder than I did, and I laughed throughout the entire film. He was also a good sport about the fact that I kept whispering in his ear the names of the people in the cameos. And it is a very long list. I think he only knew Jon Hamm. And Lulu. His favorite thing about the movie? Joanna Lumley’s facial expressions as Patsy Stone. My favorite thing? The entire movie. And being happily surprised to see Jane Horrocks back as Bubble. And being amazed that none of the stars seemed to have aged a whit. And recognizing the comedic genius that is Jennifer Saunders – her writing is spot on.

Cinerama Dome, Hollywood

ArcLight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. I still say it looks like a golf ball.

You don’t need to know anything about the Ab Fab TV show to “get” the movie. My friend had tears in his eyes from laughing so hard, and he was the ultimate newbie. I don’t even think he knew it would have been okay to mock my outfit until after he’d seen the movie. Anyway, the last I saw him, he was riding off on his Ducati to find Joanna Lumley. Maybe I should have told him he’d have to ride over water.
Anyway, go see Ab Fab. Watch this trailer for it. Dress accordingly and bring some bubbly. Bring me too. I was a guest at the screening as part of a campaign for the movie, but I’m going to pay to go see it again and again, just to find ALL the cameo players.

This post is made possible by support from Fox Searchlight Pictures. All guffaws, snorts, chuckles, giggles and opinions are my own, sweetie darling.

Alexandra Williams, MA

10

Overcoming Obstacles: Time for Knee Replacement Surgery

When I was approached by Socialstars about working on a sponsored post with Advil on the topic of overcoming obstacles and pain, I immediately signed on, knowing the reconstructive knee surgery I’d had in 1998 (thanks to a soccer game) had finally failed, and that it was time for knee replacement surgery.

In the 18 years since my original surgery, I’ve continued to teach group fitness classes, go on long (and short) hikes, and generally stick with my fairly active lifestyle, even with follow-up surgeries over the years.
one-legged plank on the StepHowever, the reconstruction that was supposed to last ten years (it’s been 18) has finally failed and I will have gone in for replacement surgery by the time you read this. I should probably even be back home recuperating at this very moment.

I remember my recuperation from ‘98, which is another way of saying “physical therapy.” I had a lot of PT, and it hurt. Sometimes the therapy exercises hurt so much that tears would spontaneously “spring” from my eyes. I wasn’t sad; it was involuntary. I know many people don’t do all of their at-home PT because it hurts, which makes total sense. Who wants to self-inflict pain? However, it’s my knee, and no-one else’s, and I want it back in working order as quickly as possible.

advil for headaches

Look ma, no headaches. My mind is completely in balance as I visualize my new knee.

I know what I’m headed for as I teach my body to accept its bionic new joint. It’s going to hurt a lot. That’s just the way it is. But only in the short run. Then I’ll be done with recurring pain, arthritis, stiffness, and compensatory issues in my left IT band. I’ll be done with limping and having a permanently bent knee. Maybe I’ll even be able to kneel on my right knee again too, instead of shifting all my weight to the left.

After my reconstruction surgery in 1998, I stayed with my sister for a week or two. I diligently did my therapy exercises and tried to participate in day-to-day stuff as well. Heck, she even rented a wheelchair and took me along with her on a 5K walk to raise money to help find a cure for MS. Ask her to tell the story of trying to tip me over into the sidewalk plants along Santa Barbara’s State Street. “Accidentally.”

Years later, she had to have some knee surgery and therapy too. After hers, she told me that she had thought I was overdramatizing the amount of knee pain I was in during the time I recuperated at her house, but after having her own surgery realized I was seriously downplaying how much it hurt. Glad she didn’t share her opinion at the the time or I might have clocked her with my crutch.

Running on the Lancaster Mennonite High Regupol track
With this surgery being even more extensive than the original one, I already know it will hurt to get back to normal. But if I let that deter me, I won’t get to my goal – teaching a full load of classes in the Fall quarter, rejoining my dance team, and walking the dog.

I’m not one to reach for meds (over-the-counter or prescription) as a first resort, but I’ve also learned that they exist for a reason. I know that I’ll have to use the pain meds the surgeon prescribes, at least for a few days. I also know I’ll cut the dosage in half because I don’t like what they do to my mind and stomach. Last time I tried to “go it alone,” and had more pain and inflammation than necessary. I guess the obstacle I needed to overcome was my own stubbornness.

Besides determination, what else you can do to overcome pain and obstacles? #ad @AdvilRelief Click To Tweet

Just as I worked hard to complete a half-marathon after one of my lesser knee surgeries, and stay fit after toe surgery (also thanks to soccer, which I still love, but no longer play), I’ll work hard this summer too. It’s MY knee. It’s MY life. And it’s MY responsibility to treat my body (and new knee) with respect. Over the summer, and once I’m back to teaching, I’ll use Advil for the muscle soreness that’s going to be part of adjusting to my new, bionic (I wish) knee. I used it to relieve the arthritic pain from it being bone-on-bone, so I already know it will help. And the active ingredient is ibuprofen, which doesn’t bother my stomach.

Dog walk at More Mesa

My sis will be walking my dog for me until I’m back in walking action.

So no travel posts for a while (no driving for this girl till August), and no self-pity (I might change my mind on that). Mostly I’m looking forward to being active again, but without the issues my poor ol’ bone-on-bone knee had. And you know what hurt the most? Sitting in place for too long. Yup, moving was more comfortable than sitting. Which is exactly as it should be.

Here’s to me and my knee!

June is National Headache month, and Advil would like to know how you deal with headaches. So would we.

Alexandra Williams, MA

photo credits: Alexandra

9

Milan: The City of Beautiful Design

Two days in Venice convinced me that every single bit of it is photograph-worthy. So when I joined my fellow Design Hounds for the train ride to Milan, I was a bit afraid I’d be in for a letdown. My most recent visit to Milan was in 1973, so I was in desperate need of updated memories. And this time I had my very own credit cards. And camera.

Moss covered building in Milan

This building is across the street from Villa Necchi Campiglio, on Via Mozart in Milan.

garden in Milan, Italy

Bunch of talking heads, perhaps? These fellows were hanging about at Palazzo Clerici.

entrance to Vittorio Emanuele shopping gallery

Entrance to Vittorio Emanuele II Shopping Gallery in Milan, named after the first king of a united Italy.

Not only did the sun shine on us for the entire visit, so did the design gods, as I saw enough to keep my status as “She Who Pauses Every Few Steps to Take a Photo.” Luckily, my friends were good sports (and also camera owners).

Selfie at the Duomo

World’s best (or most frightening) selfie in front of the Duomo. Click on the pic to meet Mary, the woman to blame (credit) for the photo.

From big (the Duomo is so big I couldn’t get it all in the frame without serious distortion), to small (a Gessi faucet shaped like stones), I was just as happy to roam around all day playing looky-loo as I had been in Venice. In front of Biblioteca Ambrosiana just blocks from the Duomo, I came across a placard for a walking tour of the area’s buildings of interest. Now I MUST return, as I love walking, history, and “old stuff.” The tour looked like it could take several days, so maybe I should return in the Fall or Spring when it’s not too hot or crowded. No matter, as a friend and I spent the morning in the Brera district, which I totally recommend you explore when you get to Milan.

Duomo, Milan, Italy

The front of the Duomo. Look very, very, very closely and you’ll see people at the top left, climbing the stairs to the top. Those people are not us.

Gessi Equilibrium faucet

It looks like two river stones, but it’s actually a working faucet from Gessi

Miessen in Milan

My back patio (or a Miessen display in Milan). Whatever.

I was especially looking forward to our visit to sponsor Gessi because I’d heard their showroom was a former movie theater, with an underground secret garden. How cool is all that, especially when Gessi’s bathroom fittings and fixtures focus on private wellness and the in-home spa experience?

Gessi sink and faucet

I don’t understand how MY sink ended up in THEIR showroom.

After spending most of the day in the sun, my descent into the cool dark of the Gessi showroom was enough to make my shoulders relax. I might have sighed too. Italian hospitality is pretty darn good. I was ushered into a lounge area where the other Design Hounds were seated. The top management people all came out to introduce themselves, and thanked us for coming. Then we were offered coffee (Italian coffee, not vending machine swill that tastes like used motor oil), champagne, water, and prosecco.

lighted Gessi faucet

Anyone with vision issues need a lighted Gessi faucet? #HandGoesUp

This was followed by a demonstration by artist-philosopher Marsel Lesko. He balanced large stones on smaller ones. We also watched a video of Lesko standing in the middle of a river, surrounded by numerous stones that he had balanced. What did this artist have to do with the company, I wondered? As it turns out, this is how Gessi works. Their mission is “to make everyday life more pleasant with objects of extraordinary beauty and functionality.” They want their faucets to be objets d’art, aspiration and decoration, so they look to nature as a source of inspiration.

Marsel Lesko at Gessi, Milan

We held our breath as artist Marsel Lesko balanced a circle of large stones on smaller ones.

After the demo we had a tour of the Indonesian, Scandinavian, and Moscow rooms. My favorite (nope, not the Moscow one even though I did Russian Studies at university) was the Scandinavian because it had the simple lines that I like. Besides, the Scandinavians like outdoor exercise and spas; I like outdoor exercise and spas. They value simplicity; I value simplicity. They are all tall and good-looking; I’m… good at side planks.

Scandinavian bathroom, Gessi

The Scandinavian in-home spa is so nice, there’s no need to leave the room, even for side planks.

I considered hiding in the showroom, knowing they had snacks, drinks and running hot water, but we had a farewell pizza dinner to attend, so eventually I came out of the shower (did you know Gessi conceived the first ceiling-mounted faucet) and took the metro home, resisting the urge to slip my number to Marsel.

Duoma close-up detail

Close-up of some of the details on the Duomo. Look for the griffin’s expression.

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15

I Went to Italy and Fell in Love

I fell in love in Italy. Not with a gondolier or pastry chef, but with architecture, history, new friends, art, the streets and canals of Venice, good design, and a refrigerator.

gondolier in Venice

Can you tell he’s waving directly at me? Yeah, me neither.

Along with a group of designers, I was part of a group that traveled to Venice and Milan. Just to be clear, I’m not an interior designer in any sense. I decorate my home in Early Dust Kitty. But I do know a lot about bribing the organizers wellness, leading an active, healthy life, and travel.

This is my second trip to Europe as the oddball blogger in a group of designers organized by Veronika Miller of Modenus / DesignHounds, and it’s fantastic to see through the designers’ eyes. Our trip was organized around a visit to the Salone del Mobile Milan, probably the world’s biggest kitchen, bath and furniture show. But of course, we spent a few days in Venice, which I’m highlighting here. Stay tuned for an upcoming post with pictures of Milan.

Venice Italy

My first view of Venice from my private water taxi

As you vicariously travel to Venice by scrolling through my pictures, I’ll share some information about Liebherr, one of our trip’s sponsors, plus tell you a story about my attack freezer.

Venice, Italy fire station

This is a fire station in Venice. Look for the red boats.

Canal in Venice, Italy

Sunlight reflected on a canal in Venice.

My younger son and I moved into a rental home that we own a few months ago. As part of our move we said goodbye to our fancy, new refrigerator and hello to a fridge that has only wire shelves that don’t do a great job holding food in place. And anything put in the back of the fridge freezes. Not a winning plan for my Dutch cheese or the celery. But the fridge is still better than the freezer, which has NO shelves at all. This means everything is sort of stuffed in. Every time one of us opens up the freezer door, the contents fling themselves at us and onto the floor. Every. Damn. Time. I hate the freezer with a passion. The freezer reciprocates.

Liebherr wine cooler

The one-touch wine cooler from Liebherr. Waiting patiently for the sommelier.

Liebherr is a German company that makes refrigerators (I should mention the wine coolers too, knowing how much you all like wine). Roughly translated, Liebherr means “Love the Man,” so you KNOW I’m all over that.

Liebherr fridge

Come to mama. Glass shelves and BioFresh drawers. I hope it fits in my carry on.

dinner with Liebherr

Josef is head of sales for Liebherr in North America. You should insist on smoking a bread stick with him every time a fridge or wine cooler gets it wings. Photo credit: Veronika Miller

I found my next refrigerator. It has glass shelves (ooh, aah), is Energy Star rated, and (drumroll please) has BioFresh compartments that keep my fruits, veggies, cheese and fish fresh for days longer than a standard crisper. This last feature had me at “hello.” I’ve even downloaded the free Liebherr BioFresh app in anticipation of receiving this fridge for my birthday (hey, Liebherr, it’s in August). The app tells you how long something would stay fresh in a standard fridge, how long it stays fresh in either the BioFresh or BioFresh-Plus drawer, and how to store it. For example, I picked the Zander fish from the app because it’s similar to my family nickname – Alex-ZANDER-a – get it? The app recommends the DrySafe (low humidity) over the HydroSafe (high humidity) compartment. When it’s wrapped and stored in the DrySafe BioFresh-Plus drawer, the fish stays fresh four times longer than it would in the pitiful excuse of a fridge in my house (and probably yours). I also learned that Zander fish has Vitamins A, B2, D & E, and Minerals Flourine, Iodine and Zinc.

bridge of sighs, Venice, Italy

The bridge in the background is the Bridge of Sighs, as it’s the last bridge prisoners saw on their way to jail

Venice, Italy

This plaza (also known as a campo) was 2 doors from our Venice apartment. And your eyes are correct – the tower leans.

laundry in Venice, Italy

Venetians seem to do their laundry in color categories. Obviously, it was blue day.

Details abound in Venice, Italy

Every square inch of this building and bridge is covered in details.

head detail in Venice, Italy

Close-up of a head over the door in Venice

limoncello in many colors

Limoncello comes in many flavors and colors. Try them all! Not that I did. cough cough

Now I just have to figure out if limoncello counts as a fruit. If so, I can store it in the HydroSafe drawer. Or the wine cooler. Or, you know, drink it immediately. I hereby raise a glass to toast my happy memories of Venice and Milan, and to Liebherr for helping make my dreams come true (both the travel AND the plan to oust my attack fridge).

sunset in Venice

Watching the sun set in Venice, Italy

by Alexandra Williams, MA

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2

Omron Healthcare Project Zero Blood Pressure Monitors

We recently got an email touting the upcoming arrival of the Omron Healthcare Project Zero wrist blood pressure monitor, and upper arm blood pressure monitor. Perfect timing, since February is National Heart Month.

Omron wristBefore deciding whether or not to partner with Omron Healthcare, I hopped on a phone call with Jeff Ray, their executive director of business and technology. Both Kymberly and I wear fitness trackers, plus we like to know our BP readings, so the monitors looked to be interesting for you and us.

Let me describe the two monitors, then share the answers Jeff gave to a few questions I asked.

Wrist – Somewhat bigger than a fitness tracker, it looks like a giant watch. You can wear it all day or just for taking your BP reading; whichever you prefer. Me, I’d probably wear it all day in order to take advantage of the fitness tracking aspects. You set it, wait for it to inflate, then Boom, you have the info right at your fingertips (or wrist, as the case may be). No wires, no cuff. You can even send the info to your physician via the OMRON Connect App. It can also remind you to take any necessary medications, and track your compliance.

Upper Arm – Free of tubes and wires, this monitor can track hypertension levels and and detect irregular heartbeats. It also syncs to your smartphone or tablet with the OMRON Connect App. Instead of having the fitness tracker add-ons, the upper arm monitor can precisely measure more data points.

Omron upper arm monitorEspecially as we age, Kymberly and I like knowing our stats. Since we’re healthy and fit, we don’t go to the doctor’s very often, so having an easy-to-use monitor at home would be a good way to get information more than once or twice a year.

On your behalf, I asked questions that I thought you would have. Let us know in the comments what other questions you’d ask.

Where and when can I get one? – They’ll be available in most drugstores nationwide in late 2016.
What will it cost? – Under $200
How accurate is the wrist monitor, compared to the standard medical upper arm one at the doctor’s office? – There is no difference in accuracy. As a matter of fact, the designers at Omron tried to make the wrist monitor smaller so that it would be closer in size to a standard fitness tracker, but the accuracy was compromised, so they have kept it slightly bigger to retain its accuracy. The one caveat – you must hold your wrist up near your heart.
How often do you have to recharge the battery? – Every two weeks, give or take, depending on the number of hours you wear it, and how often you download the stats. The two week estimate is based on a 2-per-day BP reading.
Are these monitors only for people who are required to check their BP? – Anyone can buy one. (I was curious, because I’d love to have the wrist monitor, but I have no medical issues. My purpose would be to track my stats as part of my plan to PREVENT medical issues)
I was pretty excited, as the wrist monitor in particular seems to be at the crossroads between medicine (both monitors ARE medical devices) and fitness trackers; tertiary care meets preventive care.

This video that Verge did gives even more information.

Bet you didn’t know that one-third of (U.S.) Americans have high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease. As someone who has gone through the trauma of a loved one having two strokes and two TIAs, I can say with 100% conviction that these portable, super cool, app-connected, easy-to-use monitors can help prevent that from happening to you. And if you want to know how to improve your heart’s health, read our recent post, “Healthy Heart: Improve Your Circulation and Flexibility.”

When the monitors DO come out later this year, I’ll be one of the first people in line to try out the wrist monitor. Physical activity, sleep data and accurate BP readings – I’m into knowing those.
Of course, you’ll still have to get a mneumonic device to help you remember the difference between systolic and diastolic. Or is that just me?

Alexandra Williams, MA

This post is sponsored by Omron Healthcare, as part of their #HeartHealthMonth outreach. All thoughts and opinions are our own. Wish we could say the same about the monitors 🙂

13

Get Ultimate Abs (Better Yet, a Strong Core)

K hanging from Ranch archGet Stronger, Sexier, Sleeker Abs at Any Age

If all goes well, you will age. HOW you grow older is largely under your control and a result of choices you make. Don’t watch your waist expand and your world shrink with each passing year.

Like you, Alexandra and I are baby boomers who know that added years often means added weight, more aches and pains, and reduced strength. But this decline is not inevitable and can be reversed —- if you take certain, critical actions. Some of those actions involve cutting out crunches and adding tailored core exercises that minimize flexing the spine at the neck. You are also well served to perform abdominal moves that require no head lifting.

HOW you grow old is largely under your control and a result of choices you make Click To Tweet

Take advantage of Alexandra’s and my combined 70 years’ experience as certified fitness professionals to transform your core and more. You can move from weak and (dare we say, perhaps “flabby”) to strong and Fab-Abby! How? By taking a look at our our newly created “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50” program.

Bust the myth that a 6-pack indicates a strong, age-defying core. A 6-pack certainly looks good. Yeah, we gotta admit that! And it does indicate low body fat. But it says nothing about the ability to function well in daily life, do fun physical activities, or maintain amazing posture.

Don’t watch your waist expand & your world shrink with each passing year Click To Tweet

Tap into the ABCs: Abs, Balance, CoreK doing splits at ranch in tree

Enjoy some of these photos of me (Kymberly) reaping the benefits of having a strong core even if I don’t sport a 6-pack.  Not only do I get to guest teach classes such as “Abs, Balance, and Core” at Rancho la Puerta fitness resort, but also I get to goof off in the oak grove.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to work as hard as it takes to get back the 6-pack of my youth (that I may or may not ever have had in the first place). More to the point, it’s totally possible to have a youthful, functional set of abs even if your 6-pack could be described as a 10-pack.

But you do need core strength to beat the aging odds.

You need core strength to beat the aging odds. Click To Tweet

What is the Cost of Not Getting Active?

For one,  your body grows old faster than your mind. For another, your risk of injury and falling increases. Then there’s that fashion seduction of elastic waistband pants.

K piking while seated at RanchForget that! Gain core power galore! Take a look at our program to see whether it might be right for you.

ACTION: Click this link to learn more about the Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50.Ultimate Abs binder image

 

 

 

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

 

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