Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Well, it depends. Yes, it depends on your goals and priorities. All of the above comments are true — given a specific goal. So my goal with this post is to start with the outcome you might desire and offer an appropriate suggestion based on that desired result. For example, one of you might have a primary goal to lose weight, while another of you might prioritize avoiding illness. The workout for the former person would include some high intensity, interval aerobic exercise once or twice a week. The protocol for the latter would be to walk casually every other day.
So let’s hop, skip, walk, sleep, and jump from goal to goal hoping you find what you are looking for along the way. If you ever wanted to know “what’s the best fitness advice for me?” then find your goal below with the “best” tip after it. (Also check out our post on the BEST cardio exercise).
Trying to lose weight? Apparently Baby Boomers have the highest obesity rates of any age group – topping 35% in 17 states and 30% in 41 states. Freak Out Fit Fact!! If you do have a weight loss goal, try the following:
And read our post on the the best ways to burn fat. Just promise not to be sitting down while reading about fat burning!
Reducing stress is the number two top motivator for working out according to a Concorde University study (wondering what the number one motivator is? I’ll tell you at the end of the post). AARP Bulletin Jan-Feb 2014 shares that people 50-64 (uh, that’s us baby boomers again) feel more stressed out than people over 64.
How do you destress? If you are like many Americans, you turn to tv or online activities. However, people who use these methods also report not finding them helpful. Cognitive gap here readers! What is helpful for destressing? No surprise — physical activity. That’s pretty much ANY movement. How is that for good news and easy advice to follow? Do what you enjoy and you’ll be less stressed. Read our post on reducing stress and be even more mellowed out. IDEA Fitness Journal June 2014
Need to reduce your blood pressure? Try isometric exercises. Those are the kind where your muscles are under tension without changing length or joint angle. Planks and wall sits are good examples as is a chest squeeze where you press the palms of your hands together in front of your chest and hold the resistance pressing hand to hand. Envision the “namaste” position. Now hold that and stick to it for 4 weeks. Yup, you are bringing your blood pressure down! Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2014;89 , 327-34)
Let’s aim big here. Want to live longer (and better?) Then you must pump it up. Rest assured– you don’t have to go Arnie Schwarzie style. A UCLA study of men over 55 and women over 65 confirmed that more relative muscle mass leads to a longer life. And you’ll probably look and function better in that life too! My fitness pro tip for you? Start in a strength training class led by a knowledgeable instructor . You’ll get exercise ideas, form feedback, safety cues, and interaction to make the experience more enjoyable and effective. American Journal of Medicine 2014
If you want more life satisfaction, improved psychological well-being, increased flexibility, and better dynamic balance – take Pilates lessons. Mat classes brought benefits as did work on Pilates reformers and other specialized equipment. Find the Pilates training that you enjoy and reap those many benies! To increase your happiness even more, read our post on Getting Happier. IDEA Fitness Journal June 2014
Want to make better decisions and smarter choices? Engage in 15 minutes of mindful meditation prior to making your decision. You will be able to focus more effectively on information available now (vs in the past or present) and to ignore other emotions, thoughts, issues that might get in the way of your ability to think rationally and clearly. IDEA Fitness Journal June 2014
Of course, many more goals exist with endless good advice to achieve those specific goals. If we did not cover YOUR goal, put it in the comments with your question and we’ll get you the latest Fun Fit Facts and workout tips. The main message Alexandra and I hope you get from this post is that no matter what your exercise goal is, moving will help. Move Often. Move to Improve!
And since you made it all the way to this point, you get to find out the Number One Reason US adults of all ages report as their main motive for working out:
To be toned and fit. Whatever that means to you. Yup.
Readers: What motivates you to exercise?
Not only are we movers, but also we are speakers. Book us to speak at your events: (805) 403-4338 or email email@example.com.
Improve your move when you go to our YouTube channel for short videos that will improve your active aging adventure! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.
This post is sponsored by Silk Soymilk because they also believe in healthy living, so they teamed up with us for these ten steps to sustainable change.Alexandra Williams, MA
It turns out that it’s easy enough to be at 1 (I’d like to lose 50 pounds) and want to be at 10 (I lost 50 pounds), yet it’s extremely challenging to get from 1 to 10 because you don’t have all the steps mapped out. You know where you are and where you want to be, but don’t know how to get there.
When I’ve wanted to make lifestyle changes, both big and small, I make a 1-10 numbered list. One is where I am now; ten is what it will look like. My list is the steps I’ll take to get to my goal. The trick is to choose simple, specific, sustainable steps that will lead to success. It’s all about the letter S!
A typical example: I want to lead a healthier lifestyle. Rather vague, which makes it hard to know if/ when you’re successful. A better starting point might be: I want to eat more vegetables, cut back on junk food, and lose 20 pounds in 3 months. From there you plug in small changes that you will actually do. Instead of thinking in grand scale (though I wouldn’t mind living in grand scale in Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed), think of the least you can do. Multiple easy choices go further than grand, sweeping plans that come to nought. Unless you’re the broom in Beauty and the Beast.
1. Add 1,000 steps a day to my movement
2. Before I eat something that I think may not get me to my goal, I’ll go write it down. Sometimes seeing “four scoops of potato salad” written down helps me decide to just take 2 scoops, or none at all.
3. Throw away all food that will sabotage my goal somewhere where it’s not retrievable
4. Shop at a farmer’s market or co-op (any place where healthy food dominates the choices)
5. Add another 1,000 steps a day to my movement
6. With the 2,000 steps now added to my day, I’ll now run or walk very quickly for at least 500 of those. It can be in increments.
7. Serve dinner on smaller than standard plates, then put all the extra food into the fridge so it’s not just sitting out where I’ll be tempted to mindlessly eat seconds.
8. Do 5 push-ups, from knees or toes, and 10 squats
9. Get a cookbook or download healthy recipes that have a calorie count that fits my goals
10. Reward my achievements by writing down the extra energy I have, or getting a massage, or calling a supportive friend. Any reward that is positive (not junk food) and acknowledges the hard work.
You’ve probably figured out that thousands of options exist that would fit into the ten steps. And of course, making a change is really way more than 10 steps, though picking 10 specific steps will get you moving forward. The sample plan above has nothing earth-shattering or magical, which is good. It means you don’t need to wait for the earth to move or a magic wand. You just need to make small decisions repeatedly until they become a habit and you realize three months have passed, and you are now eating more healthfully and have dropped the 20 pounds.
While you’re off hunting for your old Bo Derek posters, you might also wish to learn about the 4 Stages to Healthier Habits. It has tips to help you with all the cognitive stuff that occurs when you’re trying to change.
Since Silk Soymilk was generous enough to sponsor this post, I’ll tell you a quick story about one of my steps to becoming a vegetarian. I knew I needed to get enough protein, so I bought both almond and soymilk. At first sip I wasn’t quite ready to drink them straight, but I knew I wanted them in my diet so I started adding soymilk to my fruit smoothies in place of juice. That worked. Bye bye overly sweetened juices; hello increased protein. And the picture here is my “I’m writing a post” beverage: half Silk, half vanilla decaf. Both of these healthy “hacks” work for my goals of getting in enough protein and enjoying my food. I’m still working on getting the cats to prefer it to their occasional bit of cream!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.
Alexandra: The answer is always yes. It’s also “It depends.”
In the group thread of a Facebook community I belong to, I read lots of good advice for this frustrated woman, with people recommending various diets and types of workouts. Yet if we back away from the question, and ponder the underlying assumption, it’s possible she doesn’t need to make any big changes. If she wants to KEEP the weight off once it’s lost, she might just be right on track with her 1 to 1 1/2 pound weekly loss. I’ll make a leap of faith and assume keeping the weight off after her weight loss program is over is her longer-term goal. Which means losing 1 to 1.5 pounds per week might be best.
A few years ago my sister and I were asked whether it is safely possible to lose 10 pounds in 4 weeks, and we essentially said it’s reasonable, sustainable and realistic long-term to lose 1.5 – 2 pounds per week if you combine
Of course, that is hard for menopausal women, and our fitness pro colleague Tamara Grand has some spot-on suggestions and resources for staying the nutrition and fitness course once midlife changes everything!
In this post we wrote about the differences between losing weight and maintaining weight loss, you can see in the chart that to LOSE weight, reduced caloric intake is the easiest way for most people to achieve negative energy balance, while to KEEP it off, physical activity is the strategy to prevent weight regain.
Kymberly: When you are done reading this post, check out how you can choose the “right” diet. You will find it far easier to cut out a 500-calorie drink than to exercise strenuously for about an hour. Ouch, it hurt to say that as a fitness pro who prefers moving more to eating less, but there you have it!
Alexandra: So our advice to you (and the millions of other women with this same question) is to perhaps focus more on your intake than your output. Once you reach your weight goal, you can switch that around (to a point – the fluffy, puffy, whipped creamy coffee drinks are still an issue).
Kymberly: Brooke, you asked about supercharging your metabolism. In general it usually helps to incorporate strength training 2 -3 times a week into your workout program. Perhaps you are already doing that, given the exercise activity you mention. But if could be that your metabolism is “stuck.” How can you get it unstuck? Read this: If My Metabolism is Stuck, What Do I Do?
Alexandra: While we’re at it, I’ll throw in my occasional mantra, “Never give up. Never surrender.” It’s from a movie that cracks me up.
A bonus item for you:
As part of a campaign with Blue Diamond I did a twist on the traditional Dolly Bar recipe that incorporates their Toasted Coconut Almonds. Easy recipe. Quick to make. Delicious to eat.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
In our recent episode, Fat Burning for Women Over 50: Be on Fire, Dr. Len walked us through the sometimes confusing realities of killing off kilocalories. Once we appreciate the role carbohydrates and fat both serve in providing fuel, then we can understand how to select the “best” workout programs.
First, the goal is to have a caloric deficit to lose any weight. That deficit comes from the age old energy balance equation: take in fewer calories than we put out (eat less); put out more calories than we take in (move more). The entire weight loss picture is far more complex, affected by a myriad of other factors. For more on losing weight and fat, check out Burn a Myth to Burn More Calories (post) and Fat Loss; What Does and Doesn’t Work (radio episode) . Professional alert warning system activated – it’s not just about cals in and out, though you do have to start there!
Second, is that we break down carbohydrates 40 times faster than fat, with carbos supplying most of the fuel (energy) to power our exercise. Distinguish between absolute and relative numbers when thinking of fat loss. When you exercise with some intensity, you use a higher percentage of carbos compared to fat as the fuel source. However, the highest total of burned calories is what you are going for. For that, you need to suck it up and add some effort.
Higher intensity exercise burns more calories; however, a long, slow approach is better than what most of the adult population is doing — uh, as in better than not much or nuffink! But a workout with some oomph to it at a higher pace will use more total energy (calories) than the lower intensity plan. Absolutely!
So forget needing to be in a “fat burning zone” when making cardio equipment or fitness tech choices. Get in the calorie burning zone, which is also a high carbo burning zone.
Third, thanks to Dr. Len’s practical tips, you now get led into the exciting, proven, no-magic-required realm of the four best training programs to maximize calorie burning and become lower fat! He recommends we try all 4 methods.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Select a cardio activity you enjoy, such as cycling, running, walking, using a row machine. Go as hard as you can for about 30 seconds. Then recover at a self-selected, variable pace for about 3- 4 minutes. Complete 4-8 rounds for a total workout time of about 30-45 minutes. Dr. Len recommends changing up the mode workout to workout, especially if you have several favorite cardio activities.
And if you forget all this, simply recite the Kymberly mantra: “Go as hard as you can, as long as you can, as often as you can.” I hear the sizzle of calorie burning already!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
That’s 28 days of focusing on your food and exercise. Getting proper sleep helps too. You can actually lose 14 pounds a year just by adding one hour of sleep each night.
The start date was just two days ago (May 27), and the pot is already up to $675, with 27 players putting $25 each into the game pot.
We’ve had a number of people ask us if it’s too late to join, hence this oh-so-loverly video saying, “Yes, you can still join.” [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q671QIDeH-U[/youtube] Okay, it’s actually Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady,” but it IS loverly! You don’t get an extra two days at the end (the final weigh-in is June 24 & 25), but you can do it! Speaking of weighing in, you do NOT have to publicly share your weight. Actually, you don’t have to privately share it in the group either. One “referee” at DietBet headquarters verifies your initial and final weigh in photos to keep us all honest.
For all the details, and to sign up, follow, follow, follow the DietBet road to become Good, Better, Best Bod Yet!!
If you wish to donate to the funds set up for the victims of the UCSB/ Isla Vista murders, go to this post.
And if you wish to hire us to speak about fitness, health and saving money through fitness, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our operators are standing by (that’s us, and it means our cell phones are in our pockets).
With DietBetter we don’t tell you HOW to lose the weight, though Kymberly and I do have advice about the best diet for weight loss, the most effective way to get started , and the best weight loss methods according to research (hint: the answer is “it depends”).
What we like about DietBetter is that you choose the weight loss method that’s right for you, while they set the parameters to keep it healthy and safe. For example, if you weigh 170 pounds, four percent of that is 6.8 pounds, which means losing 1.7 pounds a week. Totally realistic, as we show in our post “Lose 10 pounds in 4 weeks.” Math + hard work = weight loss success + financial gain.[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/79208152[/vimeo]
1. Join up today and put $25 in the pot. You can join up after the game starts, but you are best off to join up in advance.
2. In the 48 hours before the start date of May 27 you post a starting weight photo that is verified by the DietBetter team (they send you a word to use, plus photo requirements).
3. Your weight is NEVER shared unless you decide to do so.
4. You can check in on the site as often as you like to share successes, frustrations, ideas, encouraging words, or even to ask us for advice.
5. Within 48 hours of the end date of June 28, you post your final weight. If you are a winner, you need to post a verification photo. If you did NOT achieve your 4% goal, you don’t need to post a picture.
6. Winners get their share of the pot via PayPal.
That’s it. I’ll be doing this too, as I still want to lose that last bit of the 10 pounds I gained back in December when I complained about being overweight and over the hill. Trying to lose weight on my own has gone okay, but not great. I am still not where I was six months ago, even with all my exercise and healthy eating. I’m motivated by money because I want to get my $25 investment back!! I also want to make money, though secretly I hope everyone is a winner. Oh, that’s another great thing about DietBetter – if everyone wins, they don’t even keep their cut. They believe so strongly in positive reinforcement that if we all win by losing, we all get back our full $25.
So, are you in? Click on this link to join. Four weeks. Four percent.
photo credit: lady on scale – Clarita
We love it when we can share good news with you – If you have watched any of our videos about improving your posture, you know we are fans of good posture. In celebration of National Correct Posture Month, our friends at BackJoy are rewarding those who commit to improving their posture by awarding the first 500 people who participate in the #PosturePledge celebration with a FREE SitSmart Posture Plus ($40.00 retail value), You’ll also be automatically entered to win a fabulous grand prize. All you have to do is choose one of the ten simple actions listed on BackJoy’s Posture Pledge Facebook page.
It’s a good bet to subscribe to our blog and listen to our radio show. Experience some of the best leaders in the health, wellness, and fitness world every Wednesday morning at 8:00 PT/ 11:00am ET. Listen in (better yet, call in to 866-472-5792) to our new radio show Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers with guests who offer practical advice and cutting edge solutions to your active aging challenges. You’ll find us at voiceamerica.com on the Health and Wellness channel.
by Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
If you read only one fitness book, this is the one. It includes answers to 125 of the most frequently asked fitness questions. Now in its 10th printing, this book combines up-to-date research with practical information for establishing an optimal health, fitness and wellness lifestyle. From exercise instruction and workouts, to wellness and nutrition, Kravitz has been writing, researching and speaking about fitness for over 30 years. He takes complex topics and research results, and explains them in an easy-to-comprehend format.
The title doesn’t do justice to the knowledge and science that Grand puts into her exercise selections. The book includes a 12-week progressive program that includes strength training, cardiovascular training, and nutrition to support fat loss and muscle gain, and the recommendations are realistic and achievable. This book has sound advice based on solid research. You can hear Tamara explain why we gain weight in midlife in our radio interview of her: What Can You Do About Hormones, Menopause, and Menopot.
This companion set has one book aimed more toward men, the other toward women, with exercises in both applicable to all exercisers. Effective exercises, lifestyle information and recipes are the three parts to these books. As both a health and fitness coach, Witt is good at explaining the links between emotions, nutrition, humor, a social network, and physical activity. While I disagree with some of his slang terms, and feel the layout could be a bit more polished, the information is trustworthy and written in a way that is suitable for a complete beginner.
These three books cover just about cover everything you need to know in my (pescatarian) opinion! I love reading books about food and nutrition, yet keep coming back to Pollan’s because they make eating and food simple to understand. And he informs, where others preach. He’s also a very good writer, and I love good writing.
The titles of both these books let you know straight away that Nestle writes about the politics of food. If you are concerned about food advocacy and equality, plus food safety, read these. Her strong opinions are informed by research and statistics. In other words, facts! These books will help you become a more-informed decision-maker about what you eat.
Growing up as redheaded, freckle-faced, glasses-wearing, intellectual and sporty identical twins in a family of 5 kids, we had a lot of nicknames as youngsters. Some of the names we actually liked, such as “Bobbsey Twins” and “brainiacs.” The latter appellation must have made an impression as all the neuroscience coming out about the brain’s “trainability” and plasticity really captures my fancy. The link between cognitive enhancement and exercise particularly motivates me to move, think, and try new activities.
After reading dozens of new books on the relationship between movement and the brain, I hope you are inspired to check out my suggestions. But only if you want to be more fit inside and out!
First up, read Spark. Actually, first read our posts about meeting Dr. Ratey, hearing him present highlights from his book, and sitting next to him at dinner without drooling. Ok, I did drool a wee bit as I handed him my book copy to sign. If you want to remodel and transform your brain for peak performance, this book is for you! Warning: You will be so sparked by the brain benefits of movement that you’ll disdain a sedentary life forever after.
If you’ve listened to our radio show or been reading our posts for any duration (I really, really hope you answered “yes” to this “if”), then you’ll know I squee at the knowledge Dr. James Hill imparts with humor and facts galore. You’ll get proven, repeatable, long term weight loss and maintenance solutions when you listen to our recent radio show interview of him — Fat Loss: What Does and Doesn’t Work?
Prefer quick summaries of his talks on reducing obesity or knowing how your “why” affects your weight loss success? Read the write-ups we did after hearing him speak at two events. And of course, you will want to add State of Slim to both your library and cookbook collection. Don’t just add the book to your stacks. Actually read it. You’ll get recipes to unstick your metabolism; you’ll find out the 6 factors successful weight losers have in common, you’ll practically want to move to Colorado. Unless you are me and live in Santa Barbara, CA, in which case my butt is parked (not in “idle” mind you, but revved up).
And the book I am reading now? Glad you asked. See, my brain can make up creative conversations after tackling this list of super resources! After interviewing Dr. Cynthia Green for our radio episode, Your Best Brain Might Be Ahead of You I divebombed into Your Best Brain Ever. Michael Sweeney and Dr. Green give a lot of practical tips broken into short chapters with many examples. Not only will you easily find out what to do to enhance your brain health, but also why and how the brain functions. The two authors present the lowdown on your lobes in a super accessible, comprehensible manner. This book is a quick, easy read. Or I am just so much smarter reading it that it seems that way!
You can read while on cardio equipment; listen to our radio show interviews when on a walk, run, or drive; or simply kick back in the springtime sun and learn as you (don’t) burn (kcals or your skin). That’s a double wordplay for you. Fit brainiac status, here I come!
We make a few cents if you buy glasses from Warby Parker (see our “glasses” link above), which is great. Did we mention they have a Try Before You Buy program?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Turns out, the above “solutions” don’t always work. When weight lifting andWhat DO calorie cutting don’t produce the results we want, we feel deprived, hungry, and frustrated. Add menopause into the mix and no wonder we’re fat as hell and not going to take it any more!
Obesity is one of our most serious public health concerns, according to Dr James Hill, one of the world’s top obesity experts and author of State of Slim. No way around it – our nation is fat and getting fatter. Years of evidence tells us what DOESN’T work to prevent weight gain and to reduce body fat. (That’s a link to our post on Reducing Fat. Click to lose). More specifically, the evidence spoke to Dr. Hill, who went on to co-found the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks people who have lost significant weight and kept it off over time.
Obviously as a nation, what we’ve been doing is not working. (Heavy dieting anyone?) But what does work? Armed with data and provable results, Dr. Hill recently filled us in when we interviewed him for our new radio show, Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers that airs via VoiceAmerica.com’s Health and Wellness Channel.
We highly recommend you click on the link to Fat Loss:What Does and Doesn’t Work to
hear what he has to say about stuck metabolisms and what successful weight losers have in common. Speak to me sagacious one! Our interview has Dr. Hill admitting that when people (and by people, he meant mostly women) came to him in the early days of his wild and trim youth, claiming they’d tried everything to lose weight to no avail and that their metabolism must be the problem, he poo-poohed the idea. (Knowing him, I doubt he actually scoffed, but I suspect he worked his professorial look of compassionate doubt). Then he did what good researchers do — turned to science. Lo and be bold! Turns out there is such a thing as clogged, stuck, non-compliant, downright naughty metabolisms.
Are you ready for the truth? One of the key reasons we midlife women, in particular might not be making headway could be due to having the dreaded “stuck metabolism.” Cutting calories is one of the BEST (secret code for WORST) ways to stay stuck!
What the what the what the!?!! Acck, we’re stuck! What exactly is a stuck metabolism? How do we shift gears out of it into its coveted opposite: a flexible metabolism? (Cue the singing lean angels). First, let’s clarify that metabolism simply means the process for converting calories (food) into usable energy.
Pretty sure we’re all clear on what a stuck metab is. Yeah, it’s the one we have right now, that excels at storing fat and holding onto it like my grip on a See’s dark chocolate walnut square. So let’s figure out what constitutes a flexible metabolism. Flexible metabolisers hum along efficiently burning fuel (a not at all fancy way to say “food, glorious food”). Even BETTER, they have the ability to adjust rapidly to ever-changing calorie intake and activity outgo. Flex Met people constantly shift internally to maintain energy balance. Give me a double dose of that, pronto so that I can achieve presto, change-o.
To go from having a stuck (or “inflexible”) to flexible metabolism we have to……..:
After talking with Dr. Hill for our radio show, I am inspired to reread his book, follow his advice, and suck up the two weeks needed to go back to the flexible metabolism I used to have. I need to stay focused on my purpose. (learn how your purpose affects your success rate in another of our stellar posts) I How about you?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Are you time-pressed, overstressed, overbooked, underloved, underfed? Ok, I got a little carried away thinking of “It Never Rains in Southern California.”
Stress can take a toll on your well-being, weight, and ability to enjoy life. When we launched our VoiceAmerica.com radio show, Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers, we interviewed hormone expert, Tamara Grand on the subject of midlife weight gain. In looking at the effects of hormones, Tamara commented on the role stress plays in layering on fat. (Listen to the whole show, but the short story here is that stress triggers the release of cortisol, which slows the body’s metabolism and promotes fat storage). Oy vay, does that short story have an unhappy plot!
This connection between stress and fat levels going up together, triggered an email from one of our radio show listeners:
Good question! Add in the aspect of “easy” being tied to “busy life” and the best methods probably also mean the quickest or least time consuming. The answer is … It Depends. What might be easy for you might be hard–and perhaps even stressful– for me. For example, I find a walk in nature relaxing and stress reducing. Walking outside might be anathema to you. You know I have to mention that even a 5 minute walk outdoors helps release tension.
In researching meditation benefits for our post on its stress reducing aspects we discovered that meditating as short as three minutes make a positive difference.
Taking deep, refreshing breaths is another strategy that is easy, free, and quick.
First, let’s distinguish between chronic and acute stress. And done! Yup, go to our post “Is Stress Making You Fat?” to catch up on what chronic stress can do to you and what you can do it! I feel better already knowing my work on that subject is already written. Whew!
Next, let’s consider more strategies that are easy, effective, and quick. For instance, laughing is a great way to bring cortisol levels down. Oh sha bam – again dropping my stress levels by having you link to this article from WebMD that offers 10 relaxation techniques you can all try. Why work harder than I have to?
What’s left? Ah yes, please also read our post about how stress is a stealth saboteur of your good health. Again, I feel pressure being lifted from my well-toned shoulders being able to refer you to work already finished. Aaaaahhh
However, I am compelled to do a little heavy lifting here. Of all the strategies I encounter, support, and even propose why not go straight to the problem? What is causing the chronic stress in the first place? Would it ultimately be easier, or at least more successful to address the source? For example, if finances are the cause of the stress, then is it time to change either income or expenses? The change might be challenging at first, but easier long term if the problem is solved. Meantime, I plan to use the easy, free, readily available stress reducing strategy of LAUGHING and BREATHING, preferably while WORKING OUT! Hmmm, that means it’s time to call my witty, walking sister.
Valentine’s Day just passed, and I am glad to see it go. Not for myself, but for those who feel sad. Sometimes it’s from being single; though it can also come from being lonely in a relationship. But I think it’s most sad when it’s a case of feeling unlovable, which is totally different from unloved. In high school I thought I was ugly (I wasn’t – see that pic of me? Nothing to run from), which to me equalled unlovable. My high school experience was so unpleasant that I found a way to graduate a year early. I feel so lucky and grateful to have found confidence in my mid-20s.
Now here we are, many years past high school, and many of us are so self-denigrating about those extra pounds we’ve put on since high school that we don’t even know it. It’s habit. Automatic. “I’d be happy if I just lost 20 pounds.” “I’d love to date, but who’d want me at this weight?” I’ve been paying attention to my habitual thoughts about my weight as I lose the few pounds I gained over the holidays, and mine are definitely tied into looks and self-acceptance.
Those of us who are moms are so good about showing our kids unconditional love, yet we let them see us denigrate ourselves. Worse, they see us defining ourselves by external, non-achievable goals and measures.
Time to rethink and reframe, dear Boom-Chicka-Boomers. We need to separate health from aesthetics. I’ll use myself as an example. Do my extra 5-10 extra pounds (I picked this number, not the government charts, which means the numbers are flawed from the start) affect my health? Truly, not in the least. I have no trouble going uphill or exercising or doing anything, except for playing soccer, which is due to a reconstructed knee, not an inability to have running stamina. And all my health and medical tests say that I’m secretly in the body of a 29-year-old (insert joke here!!). Which leaves aesthetics. Beauty. Looks. Which is a slippery ideal, as the definition changes from culture to culture, and person to person.
Am I saying we should give up on looking our best? Not at all. I’m totally vain and wouldn’t dream of going in public without at least lipstick! I’m saying:
A. Health is measurable. We can know if we’ve achieved it. Beauty is not measurable. The beholder really does have all the power.
B. We need to love ourselves for the things we accomplish that matter. We need to recognize the limits we place on loving ourselves, ESPECIALLY when those limits are based on ever-shifting criteria.
Picture yourself 20 years ago. Don’t you wish you looked like that now? But back then you were too busy unloving yourself to appreciate what you had. Picture yourself now. Flaw, flaw, flaw, comparison, comparison, disapproval, disappointment. Picture yourself 20 years from now, wishing you looked like you do now. Why wait 20 years to know how great you looked in 2014?
Just so you know – when you exercise and eat well for health reasons, you gain confidence. When you gain confidence, you look happier. When you look happy, people are attracted to you. Ka-Ching. Definition of “attractive.” Along the way, the weight will fall off. But I know that when I’m 75 and still teaching group fitness, I’ll feel good about myself. And people will be attracted to me. Good health includes self-love. Health leads to Beauty. Beauty doesn’t necessarily lead to Health.
Watch this video and watch how happy this talented woman is at dancing. How can you not help but love her? And her wild abandon!
While you’re at it, view this video of four “regular” women who got the looks of their dreams. Did it make them happy?
I’ll probably never care for the artificially created Valentine’s holiday. And l’ll still lose those last few pounds. With friends to support me. I am one of those friends.
Photo credits: Woman on Scale: Chelsea3883
Want to love us as much as we love ourselves? Here ya go:
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