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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? – Most drugstores nationwide.
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.”

Now that the monitors are out, 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.

If you you suffer from aches and pains, check out our comments on Omron’s new TENS/ Heat Pain Pro device and how it can help you. Of course, you’ll still have to get a mnemonic device to help you remember the difference between systolic and diastolic. Or is that just me?

Alexandra Williams, MA

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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 🙂

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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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1

No Yoga Pants Were Harmed in the Making of this Post: #YogaPantChallenge with Depend® Active Fit

Walking w/ Depend and Liberty in grove, Kymbelry

Check out our hineys. Only one of us is wearing Depend Active Fit.

Look at Her Butt!

Who likes having people stare at your bottom? After years of teaching fitness on stage, under lights, with mirrors surrounding me, I am used to it. Stare away people. Not bad for a baby boomer butt, eh? Just agree please. It’s been an intense week.

What I am not used to is having people stare at me when in my exercise gear if it’s not my hiney that’s looking wet and shiny! Nothing like peeing my workout capris when hopping, skipping, or jumping. Well, actually I am more at risk when I laugh hard at my own jokes, especially since I have the mic!  (For my sister’s funny take on all this, read either of her two related posts: Cross Your Legs, but Don’t Sneeze and Group Exercise and Big Headed Babies.)

Challenge On, but Pants Off?

Anyway, when I was asked to be part of the yoga pant challenge with Depend Active Fit, I agreed. I figured the biggest dilemma would be finding yoga pants, since I have a closet full of fitness tights, capris, pants, shorts, leggings, but yoga? Don’t teach that. Voila! Found my one, official pair. Challenge on!

Enter the #yogapantchallenge with Depend Active Fit Here. Now @Walmart Click To Tweet

Then I came to the REAL challenge of this assignment. I’ll get to that in a minute. But first, let’s get through the nitty gritty benefits of the new incontinence undies designed specifically NOT to show or look like sumpin’ your granny had frumpin’ in her drawer — or drawers. (I did mention laughing at my own jokes, and this includes word plays). Gotta tell you people that the Active Fit briefs actually are smooth under clothes and comfortably thin. Just like we’re going to be after working out, right? I chose the beige product, but you can dress up and under in black.

[Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Acorn, an influence company, though the opinions are all mine. So are the yoga pants. I sponsor the dogs in these photos. They sponsor the dog walks.]

WIth and Without Depend, Kymberly

One with; one without. Butt but can you tell? Dogs not included in product or challenge just in fun walks.

So there I am wanting to take part in the challenge (which you can too, by the way. Get free product, win a prize, stay dry). This means I need to get photos of my backside in workout gear where I am wearing the product in one shot and regular undies in another, similar shot. Then you are to guess which is with and which without. Of course I like to add a Boom Chicka Baby Boomer, woman-over-50 twist or what’s the fun?

I know. I’ll get photos outside. As in “public places where people might walk by. It’ll be fun, creative, unique.” “What’s the challenge” you wonder? It’s logistical. How do I go back and forth putting Depend underwear on, then off, then on, then off for each with/without pose? I am not exactly shy, but dropping my yoga drawers outdoors on the meadows and cliffs of Santa Barbara is actually beyond my comfort zone.

Allow me to share one more, little known secret about this product.  When you want to remove the active fit briefs, you don’t have to strip down or do the Zoolander vs Hansel walk off (who knows what I’m referring to here?).  Turns out the cotton-like material is so soft, you can tear the briefs along the seam and slide them out. Problem solved — sort of.

No Yoga Pants Were Harmed in the Making of this Post Click To Tweet

Sure, I can simply reach in and discreetly tear them, pull them off with my pants intact, and have just regular undies for the next photo. Uh, and the last, as that still leaves the question of getting another pair of Depend back on. Or not….

Solution to this Ultra Challenge? I wore the briefs in all the poses except one – the last picture taken. And which one was that? Not obvious is it? And that’s the point.

Readers: What’s your guess? In which one am I sans Depend active fit briefs?

ACTION: Enter the giveaway. Subscribe to our site. Easy Peeeee-sy. Kymberly Williams-Evans

Walmart Activewear Gift Sets

2

Multigenerational Travel: Pack Nana’s Walking Sticks

Highway 1 in Central California – the Discovery Route to Getting Smarter, Healthier, and Wetter

Where do you go and what can you do when you have three generations, four days to travel, and a goal to achieve at least 10,000 steps per day? Let me rephrase that: what place meets the needs of middle-aged twins who want “active travel” options, a 19 year old who is game for whatever as long as heavy exertion is not required, and a mom/ grandma who needs to make decisions based on safety?

Click on all images to see the captions.

When Alexandra and I, both baby boomers, were offered the opportunity to head up the Highway 1 Discovery Route, we were all over it like elephant seals on sand! Wait, did I just compare ourselves to large, rotund animals? Moving on. (But first, we would like to thank, acknowledge, and disclose that our trip was sponsored by CA Highway 1 DiscoveryRoute (highway1discoveryroute.com). Local businesses and organizations teamed up to promote the many options the area offers and we were the lucky bloggers chosen to get spoiled.)

Turns out the Cambria/ Harmony/ San Simeon area (best known for Hearst Castle) is the ideal vacation destination for multigenerational travel. Even better, winter is an ideal time to visit this accessible section of central California. Crowds are down; prices are low; and the number of things to do and see is sky high. Seriously, I had thought of the area as “sleepy” but we could have spent a week and still not have exhausted the options. I might have started fighting with Alexandra after a week together. Willing to find out though!

Why fight when you can find Harmony? Home of 18 residents and the Harmony Glassworks Studio, this tiny “city” is worth checking out. Don’t blink or you’ll miss the exit. Whether you want to try glassblowing, shop for handmade gifts, or wait in the car while the crazy middle-aged sisters brave the rain to get some pictures, you’ll be glad you ventured here. Skin is waterproof, so bring on the wet!

A quick tour and interview of the Harmony Glassworks

Where do you go when you have 3 generations, 4 days to travel, & a goal to achieve 10k steps… Click To Tweet

New experiences and nature spark the brain. Great for our mom, who wants to retain her memory and cognitive skills. She loves to travel, though can no longer do so alone. Catching the elephant seals in winter is perfect as that’s when the pups are just born, so the rookery is chock full of new seal families. Super accessible and interesting for all ages. And we almost saw a seal give birth.

Cambria-mom-Aidan-1

I think my mom is pinching her grandson’s hiney. What else explains her expression? Photo credit: Alexandra Williams

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Walking and healthy foods enhance health. Say, that sounds good to all of us, including my 19 year old nephew. He was keen on the high quality restaurants and varied food choices. He fully embraced the antiquing, beachcombing, and massage at the El Colibri Spa and Inn, where we stayed.

Rain and mist (finally!) create gorgeous vistas and ideal hike conditions. For me this meant heading to the Harmony Headlands Trail, a 4-mile walk through meadows and rolling hills to get to rugged coastline.

Tree on Harmony Headlands trail

Opening to the coastline from my Harmony Headlands hike

Harmony Headlands Hike

My kind of hiking conditions. Cool, misty, and open. Harmony Headlands Trail

 

Mom on bench at Moonstone

Our mom warms the bench while we navigate the sands and tides. Photo credit: Alexandra Williams

My sister, mom, and nephew headed to Hearst Castle meantime. Hot tip to you baby boomers who bring a parent along — walking sticks will really help with steps, castle climbing, slippery streets, and strolls along the Moonstone Beach boardwalk.

Originally, I was scheduled to kayak with Cubby of Kayak Outfitters. But when the words “tricky” and “high surf advisory” came into the discussion, I decided to return in fall for this adventure. Apparently fall is the best time to paddle out.  So that’s when you can count me in. Yes, I plan to return as I enjoyed the area so much and have other hiking trails to check out.

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Visiting Covell’s Clydesdale Horse Ranch is another insider tip for those of you who want to step back in time when the land was pristine and undeveloped. You can read more about this unique, historic, and privately held ranch dedicated to conservation in this post my sister wrote. Great photos too!: Hidden Gem in Central California. Again, the set up appealed to all four of us, and the owner was very sweet and accommodating of our varied needs and interests. I am not normally a horse person (they scare me, ok?!). But seeing the Clydesdales up close was a once-in-a-lifetime, inspiring experience. What may appeal to some of you even more is getting access to this private and vast property. Being able to perambulate and drive through more than a thousand acres of “original” California coastal land is the tour to take advantage of while you can.

Another travel tip Alexandra and I figured out is that we can work in some hikes and walks while the generation above and below take a nap, fondle their smart phones in the hotel room, and get spa treatments. With the Fiscalini Preserve just a mile from our hotel, we braved the elements and had the coastline to ourselves.

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Got older kids and nana along? Wake early to catch scenery while they sleep in.

What’s left to say? If you want to start your day with beauty (see above) and end it with more beauty (see and sea below), then get yourself and family to Highway 1 in Central California. For sure in winter. Then again, who wants to meet me there in fall? We can double kayak and take a hike!

Sunset in Cambria

Every age can appreciate these kinds of sunsets and tidepools and sunsets, right? Photo by Kymberly who shows a modicum of promise here.

ACTION: Have you been to Cambria and the surrounding area? If so, what is one of your fondest memories? Comment below. Or lay some emoticons on us.

Photo credits: Photos of me taken by not me, aka Alexandra. Photos that look professional also taken by Alexandra. Photos that look pretty darn good for an amateur with little clue about lighting taken by me!  If you really want to know who took what, click on the images and all captions reveal themselves.

Kymberly Williams-Evans

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4

Go For a Walk; End Up with Lovely Photos

If you regularly follow this blog (or my Facebook or Instagram accounts), you know that I have combined my love of outdoor walks with my love of photography. One good habit led to a good hobby.boats at anchor

Now that hobby is leading to an attempt to pay our health insurance. Which is a polite way of saying that I am now selling photo notecards. Please take a look at the following photos, as they are among the photos I’ve made into cards.sculpture in Santa Barbara

Manhattan Beach Pier

picture of Parasailing

fallen logs on the beach cliffs

rocks at Hendry's in Santa Barbara

They make great gifts, especially for Valentine’s Day, hint hint. Or for sending money to your college-attending spawn. Or you can save them and say you knew me waaaaaaay before I became a famous photographer. Sadly, that usually happens after the artist dies, but what an investment, eh?!Santa Barbara harbor

close-up of Clydesdale horse

sunlight & fog in Yosemite

Sunset over water

Single cards at the gift or drugstore are $5.00 each and up. Mine are only $14 for a set of eight 4X6 blank cards (which is only about $1.80 per card), plus shipping costs. I don’t charge a scammy “handling fee;” I actually lose a few pennies on shipping, but it’s easier for you if I round off.

Shipping for 1 set = $1.50
Shipping for 2 sets – $2.00
Shipping for 3 sets = $2.50

Just add .50 shipping for each set. These are U.S. postal prices. Anything else, you just have to ask and I’ll check at the post office. Notify me at info@funandfit.org with the number of sets you’d like. See how easy it is to enjoy California without paying airfare? I’m thoughtful that way.parallel masts in the harbor

bike and garage

Santa Barbara Mission

Alexandra Williams, MA

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4

Catalina Island for the Baby Boomer Winter Win!

Catalina Express and Casino

What do the Catalina Express (right) and Avalon Casino (left) have in common? Both dance over water; Neither has ever offered gambling.

Wondering where you can go in winter that offers lots to do, great promotional deals, and zero crowds? My husband and I just lived through our first holiday season as empty nesters. And you know what? We had a great time! Not because we didn’t miss our daughter, who is living in Australia for a year. We miss her every day.

But thanks to the Catalina Boat House Hotel and Catalina Express, we zipped our way to a three-day jaunt over Christmas on Catalina Island off the Southern California coast. Full disclosure more than a Jerry Springer on-camera confession: the hubster and I received complementary hotel accommodations and a reduced boat ride rate with an upgrade. More on the Commodore Lounge later. Opinions of our trip are my own. My husband’s opinions are also mine. Ha haah haha. (Good thing he rarely reads my blog.)  The great weather was provided free and courtesy of our good fortune!

Click the images above to see the captions.

Super Secret Revealed About Avalon Bay and Catalina

Catalina Christmas tree

Christmas tree, palm tree, people free.

Have you ever had one of those excursions where everything seems to go right? I know, I know, it’s more fun to complain about travel travails. But allow me to let you in on a big secret: Catalina in winter is the way to go! You get all the clear ocean water, steady sunshine, and beauty the island has to offer but none of the summer hordes! Notice what my photos have in common? Hint: Something is missing. Did you spot the pattern? Lack o’ people.

Click each image above to see the captions.

We roll up to the Catalina Boat House Hotel to discover we’re the only guests that night. Snap, that meant we got upgraded to the room with the best view.  Oh, and “welcome to the hotel, where we also give you free tickets to the Botanic Gardens and Glass Bottom boat ride. Just cuz’.” Well, this trip is starting out well!

Who Wants Money Saving Tips?

Double bonus whammy (especially for those of you who are like me — frugal and  keen to land a good deal) — prices are lower and promotion packages are more plentiful over Christmas and into March compared to the heavily popular summer. I’ll tell you the BEST deal in just a bit — AFTER you click the link above that leads you to the “Best of Winter” discounts and packages.

Where can you go in winter that offers lots to do, great promo deals, and 0 crowds? Click To Tweet

But first, below are a few ways to save vacay dollars on the island:

  • Book one of the Catalina Boat House rooms that includes a kitchenette. Walk 5 blocks to the Von’s so you can have a few meals and snacks NOT at restaurant prices.
  • Avalon Bay and Descanso BeachSay “yes” when the adorable young men at the hotel offer to take you for free in their golf cart to the Botanic Gardens and the next day to the trail head. Put the dollars you just saved on the shuttle or golf cart taxi towards a tip for this friendly staff.
  • Rent a double kayak instead of two singles. You’ll have paddle power, someone to steer while you watch for rays and fish, and you’ll save dollahs. Winter time bonus that you WON’T experience in summer — the kayak rental crew gave us 20 extra minutes “to get our vests on and stow our stuff in their handy dandy bins.” Bam! We did that in 3 minutes and used the rest of the time rounding bays and commenting on the moored boats we passed as we glided along.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland … and Hiking, Kayaking, Swimming, and Sightseeing

One of our favorite adventures, that the active among you will particularly enjoy was our Hermit Gulch Trail hike. This four-mile loop takes you to a peak where you can see both sides of the island in one calorie-burning, totally amazing, panorama. We did the trail in under three hours at a casual, scenic pace. The only thing more impressive than the views was us with ourselves for feeling happy and comfy the whole time.

How do you celebrate hoofing it up to about 1800 feet elevation on Christmas Day? By discovering you’re the ONLY people in the Catalina Express Commodore Lounge for the one-hour boat ride back to the mainland (world traveler, hipster talk for “the port of Long Beach”). We had three crew members dedicated to us as we raised our water bottles to Avalon Bay disappearing in the sunset behind us. Translation: extra pretzel snacks, extra chocolate chip cookies, an additional free beverage, and an interesting conversation with a young man pursuing his captain’s license.

It’s Your Birthday So Accept a BIG Gift!

View from trail peak Kymberly

Midlife, empty nester Christmas in Catalina: a PEAK experience!

Now to keep my promise to tell you the BEST deal you can snag that will really make a visit to Catalina affordable. It’s called the Birthday Island promotion. Go to CatalinaExpress.com to get more info, but basically you get a slew of discounts, upgrades, and freebies including free round-trip boat tickets if you travel over on your actual day of birth and return within 30 days.

This trip was my husband’s and my Christmas gift to each other. It turned out to be one of our better celebrations. What was your favorite holiday or most recent birthday present?

Beward of trashy foxes!

You can vacation where bear warnings litter the signage (see what I did there? ) or you can experience the unique island fox caution. Available only on the Channel Islands. Basically I got a kick out of this sign so I took the pic. Random, I know.

ACTION: We hope you’re fortunate enough to book a night or three in Catalina. But for sure you can subscribe to our site to get all weather, always in season active aging tips twice a week.

Kymberly Williams-Evans

3

Grateful for What You DON’T Have

Take care of the baby peacockTime to Give Thanks — to Others Who Care for Others

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?

Caregiving and Caregivers: We Are They, and They Are Us

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?

  • Constant worries about a loved one (in addition to usual worries);
  • Time demands that stretch the imagination and laws of physics;
  • Medical and other financial stresses that bombard daily;
  • Weariness caused by lack of sleep, high stress, and reduced freedom to exercise;
  • Unsupportive input from others who tell caregivers how to do a better caregiving job, but they aren’t actually doing the work.

What can you do to give a caregiver a break? Glad you asked! Plus you can win $$$ Click To Tweet

Perform a Random Act of Kindness

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!

[listly  id=”uaO” layout=”gallery” per_page=”25″ show_item_tabs=”false” show_item_filter=”false” show_list_headline=”false” show_list_badges=”false”]

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

17

Who Wants to Wrangle a Balloon in the Hollywood Christmas Parade?

My son is getting a fun birthday present this week. We are going to be balloon wranglers in the 84th annual Hollywood Christmas Parade as part of a Hollywood Hotel package.

Chinese Theatre, Hollywood
Even though I grew up on a beach in L.A. County, I rarely went to Hollywood. Now I enjoy going to the area, as it has so much activity, energy, architecture, history, people-watching (and there are a LOT of quirky people there, believe me, especially those in costume near the (Grauman) Chinese Theatre), restaurants, nightlife and creativity.

I am going to figure out a way to hold my parade balloon (an elf or candy cane) with one hand while taking pictures and sharing real-time videos on my Periscope account while we march in the parade this Sunday, November 29 at 5pm. Then we’ll stay overnight at the Hollywood Hotel, which is over 100 years old.

Celebrities will be in the parade – Penn and Teller are the Grand Marshals – and celebrities have stayed at the hotel, so my fingers are crossed that Kristen Wiig and I will meet and become BFFs while clutching an inflatable elf (not Will Ferrell, though that would be good too). I wouldn’t say no to Aidan Quinn either.

entrance to Hollywood Hotel

Anyone who wants can get in on this adventure: Be a balloon wrangler in Hollywood. Click To Tweet

I’d love to say I’m special, but actually anyone who wants can get in on this adventure. Book a room at the Hollywood Hotel for a stay that includes the night of the parade, and you can walk the parade route with us (and the hotel team) for rates as low as $139 for two people. This includes hot buffet breakfast, Wifi, Hollywood Hotel t-shirt and holiday hat to wear in the parade and, of course, walking in the parade. You have to use the promo code XMAS to get the deal. Most hotel chains charge that much just for the Wifi and breakfast.

Hollywood parade floatsWe’ll be walking the world’s longest red carpet – 3.5 miles along Hollywood Blvd, Sunset Blvd, and Vine – all street names that visitors from around the world know and want to visit. So yeah, I’m pretty excited about letting my son know what he’s getting for his birthday. He won’t quite be 21, so we’ll skip the outdoor bar and lounge, but we’ll pack our swimsuits for the pool.

I love history, so maybe you will enjoy this tidbit that caught my eye – the original Hollywood Hotel was owned by H.J. Whitley, the man credited with establishing Hollywood. You know, BEFORE silent pictures were all the rage.

toys for tots hollywood paradeI’m really looking forward to our adventure as parade participants. We’re taking up one of the hotel’s 130 rooms, so if you want one of the other 129, you’d better hustle up. Hollywood glamour. Celebrities. A vintage, yet cosmopolitan vibe. Culture. And that other thing. Oh yeah, the parade!!!!

I’ll make it easy on you: For more information or reservations contact 1-800-800-9733; 323-315-1800 , or visit hollywoodhotel.net or on Facebook. The hotel is located at 1160 Vermont Ave., Hollywood, CA 90029.

photo credits: Hollywood Hotel and Hollywood Christmas Parade

I wasn’t paid to write this post. I was invited to stay at the Hollywood Hotel and participate in the parade, which I am REALLY looking forward to. Since you made it all the way to the bottom of this post, you might as well subscribe right over there ——–>

Alexandra Williams, MA

Dried Plums: Your Grandma Was Right About Them

I’ve been working on a magazine article about the top healthy food trends for 2016, so this is a perfect time to team up with California Dried Plums, as people are finding so many creative ways to incorporate them into their snacks and meals.

plums Some super creative recipes are coming out of the nation’s most popular restaurants – from Gitane’s stuffed dried plums with goat cheese and prosciutto with a citrus gastrique to Russian restaurant Mari Vanna’s beet salad with walnuts and dried plums, and back west to San Francisco’s Q in San Francisco, where they take dried plums with red verjus and purée them with red wine vinegar, salt and Dijon mustard in its crudité appetizer.

Tasty Snack

My all time favorite dried plum treat is prune hamentaschen (yup, I’m old enough to go by the original name), but as Thanksgiving is coming, I decided to share this recipe for plumkins from the California Dried Plums Culinary site. It only takes 20 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook, so you can bet I’ll be bringing these to our holiday dinner.

California Dried Plum purée:
1 1/3 cups (about 8 ounces) pitted dried plums 6 tablespoons hot water. In food processor, process dried plums and water until puréed.

Plumkins:
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
2/3 cup California Dried Plum purée
¾ cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange zest
4 eggs
3 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
½ cup California Dried Plums, chopped
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cloves

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together pumpkin purée, dried plum purée, sugar, oil, vanilla, orange zest and eggs in a large bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Place paper muffin cups muffin tins. Fill 2/3 of the way with batter. Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Recipe created by Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN for the California Dried Plum Board.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 35Total Fat 1.1gCarbohydrate 5.6gProtein 0.5gFiber 0.7g

CA dried plums recipe for plumkins

Health and Bone Benefits

As I’m particular about what goes in my body (it’s the only one I’ve got, and it has to last), I also care about the benefits. Eat my way to health?! Well, sure, something like that.
Research suggests that eating two servings, (about 100grams or 10 to 12 dried plums), may improve bone mineral density (BMD) and slow the rate of bone turnover in post-menopausal women. As a Boomer, that is definitely important to me.

Vitamin K helps improve calcium balance and promotes bone mineralization. A 40gram serving of dried plums (4-5 prunes; about 100 calories) is considered an excellent source of Vitamin K, which provides 30% of the 80mcg Daily Value.

Vitamin K helps calcium balance & bone mineralization. Dried plums are an excellent source… Click To Tweet Dried plums may help manage weight through improved satiety, perhaps by producing lower glucose and/or appetite-regulating hormone concentrations.

Naturally cholesterol free (maybe that’s news to you), they also promote digestive health (which isn’t news to us Boomers, I imagine).

Emerging research suggests that dried plums support healthy bones, and may support heart health, digestive health, immunity and healthy aging. So don’t eat them if you want unhealthy aging. Exactly. Who would sign up for unhealthy aging?

Long a part of California’s agricultural history, dried plums are getting lots of great press lately because of the combination of taste and health benefits. You can learn even more (and get some sweet and savory recipes) by heading to the California Dried Plums site.

I shall now go try my new phrase on my son – “Don’t be a bumpkin. Bring me a plumkin.”

Yes, this is a sponsored post. Yes, I love dried plums. Yes, I jumped at the chance to partner with Vibrant Nation in this campaign for California Dried Plums. I did, however, receive a few bags of dried plums in the mail. No, I’m not sharing. I’m using them for my plumkins. Can you tell I like to say “plumkins?”

Now go over there ———————–> and subscribe to our twice-weekly posts. All great stuff for actively aging Boom-Chicka-Boomers.

Alexandra Williams, MA

photo credits: hamentashen/RealFoodForager via creativecommons.org; plumkins/California Dried Plums; fruit basket/Alexandra Williams

 

“I am participating in a VIN campaign for California Dried Plums. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with California Dried Plums and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.”

9

Hobbies and Mental Fitness

Has a hobby ever made a big difference in your happiness or ability to persevere during times of stress? Do you think having a hobby can help you be more mentally “fit?”

sculpture in a Santa Barbara office gardenA 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.

library at nightAs 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.

colorful office garden in downtownAt 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?”

palm trees in Santa BarbaraThe 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.

abandoned warehouse in Santa BarbaraFor 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.

Tamrac Anvil Camera BagWhat hobby do you have that puts the You back into You, especially during difficult times. What calms your mind?

Abandoned-shopping-cart-1

stairs at Hendry's Beach in Santa BarbaraOh, 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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