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4

How to Handle Weight Gain When You Suffer Loss

How to Handle Weight Gain When You Suffer Loss

White flowerWhite flowerWhite flowerDear Alexandra and Kymberly: I just lost my husband, Julian to cancer. Due to all the hospital appointments, my eating habits also got lost! I have put on a lot of weight, but feel so tired and lethargic I can’t get into the mood to do exercise. I have damage to my neck, knees, and lower back (due to a fall) plus my midriff and waist have become “large” and I have lost my waistline. At 69 years young this is depressing me. I am also worried about a “ledge” at the bottom of my tummy and scared it will be “resting” on the top of my legs when I sit down!!!

As well, I look after my 96 year young Mum, who has no balance anymore due to cancer and other problems. So she is only able very slowly to get from one room to another downstairs. I get to bed about 1:30am once my Mum’s medication kicks in and she falls asleep. She usually wakes me about 7am to go to the toilet, then goes back to bed until 10:00. (She is in a hospital bed in my living room so isn’t able to get up by herself). I have been looking after my Mum for 3 years and my husband for the last 2 and half, so have had little sleep etc. which may be the reason I feel tired. Since Julian died, I am still running around for Mum, but not doing the right things to lose the “middle” weight.

I need all the help I can get!! I appreciate other people’s input so have included my name. Kindest regards, Patricia of Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

Dear Patricia: Wow! Talk about the perfect storm for changes to your body, mood, and energy levels! We’re amazed and honored you have time to write to us for advice. Fortunately, we have some practical suggestions that may help you and other widows, post menopausal women, and caregivers gain energy and lose weight. (Check out what we told caregivers who wrote to us with similar concerns: A Workout Plan to Lose Weight When You Are a Caregiver)Exercisers vs non-Exerciserspicmonkey_image Exercisers vs non-Exercisers

First, Deal with Your Diet

  1. Get back to your (implied) healthier eating habits asap. To reduce pounds you have to focus more on calories in (food and drink) than out (exercise and movement). (Yes, we know the UK measures in pounds, just like we crazy North Americans across the pond). While exercise will help keep any lost pounds off, diet is what will jump start your weight loss in the first place.
  2. Try to eat at home as much as possible using ingredients instead of processed food that comes in packages.
  3. Start your day with breakfast, maybe right after you help your mom back to bed. Not knowing more about your eating habits makes it tough to give specific advice, but the above changes will start to whittle that waistline towards the worry-free zone.

Starlights at RanchStarlights at RanchStarlights at RanchStarlights at RanchStarlights at RanchSecond, Sleep More

  1. Find time to get more sleep. Whether you nap or adjust your nighttime sleeping schedule, you need to snooze between 7-8 hours per night in order to avoid more weight gain and to help drop what you’ve already put on. Doesn’t that seem counterintuitive AND too good to be true? In general, people who get fewer than 6 hours’ daily sleep tend to eat more as they are awake more. And hormones that regulate appetite are thrown into disarray with the sleep-deprived. Take a look at our post, 3 Stealth Saboteurs of Your Weight Loss to help you prioritize guilt-free naps or going back to bed briefly after breakfast. (That’s a lot of Bs in a row, right?)Meditating woman - artwork
  2. According to research from the University of Michigan, an extra hour of sleep each night can help you drop 14 pounds per year. Reading our past posts on the subject of sleep and stress (such as Do This if You Want to Get Fit, Lose Weight, Live Longer, and Destress) should not put you to sleep, however.
  3. If you cannot nap or extend your nighttime restoration hours, engage in short, daily bouts of mindfulness, meditation, or guided visualization. If you enter “Meditation” in our search bar you will find several posts on ways and whys to get started.

Third, Move to Manage Your Middle

  1. Doing a side plank on the Ranch bridgeFinally we get to our favorite part–Movement!! When you are sitting with your Mom/Mum, don’t sit! Stand, walk in place, go down the stairs then back up then back down then back up whenever you check on her. This last suggestion will take only an extra few minutes, especially if you add some speed to this action. Then you will also get some High Intensity Interval Training benefits (mentioned in Best Workouts to Burn Fat for Women Over 50).
  2. 20140825_134356Doing a side plank on the Ranch bridgeDoing a side plank on the Ranch bridgeKnowing how hard it is to get moving when tired, can you work in some strength training exercise early in the day? Early morning exercisers tend to be more consistent and successful with reaching their goals. Maybe some mornings you snatch a few more minutes of sleep after helping your mom go the bathroom; other mornings you do some lunges, push-ups, squats, and side- or knee-planks (easier on your back) before the day zaps your energy. Once you start moving more you will actually find your energy levels going up.
  3. If you watch tv with your mom, use the commercials as time to move. Walk in place; press yourself from from your chair, standing then sitting a few times; lie down and whip out a few ab exercises. If you know you are committing to just a few minutes during the ads you may be more able to find the energy to get restarted.
  4. When you are feeling particularly fatigued, ask yourself what the LEAST activity you could muster up is. Even a little bit of movement will propel you towards success. And a little success begets a little more success.
  5. As well, take a look at past posts of ours that offer solutions to the fat attracting combo of stress, eating habits gone awry, loss, insufficient sleep, and minimal movement.

If you have a weensy bit more time and energy, then click over go to our YouTube Channel where you can find exercises just right for your goals and capabilities.

Let us know how you fare and feel free to comment below, especially once others share their tips and support. We offer our condolences on your husband’s death.

TransformAging posterANNOUNCEMENTS: For more on restarting your fitness program, keep your eyes, ears, and mind open for our upcoming webinar, TransformAging. Coming in late May, handpicked experts in midlife wellness for women will offer practical solutions and the most relevant answers to popular questions on how to age better than any prior generation! Hosted by us at no cost to you!

Doing a side plank on the Ranch bridgeTransformAging 1

Webinar attendees will also be the first to get the details on our first ever, brand new, fit-tastic workout program specifically designed for women over 50 who want to (re)start active lives.

31

Actively Aging with People Your Own Age

Alexandra Williams, MA

Last weekend’s BAM – Bloggers at Midlife conference – was the first time I’ve been around a large group of people my same age since my ten-year high school reunion in the 80s. I enjoy being with people of all ages, yet there is something to be said for spending time with people who have similar concerns, interests, cultural references, histories, fears and joys.

Photo credit to Lori Moreno

Photo credit to Lori Moreno

According to research by the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy, “being part of a cohort – a tight-knit, reliable, common-purpose group – is very important in different ways.” Not only were we tight-knit, we were on a mission to squish as many people as possible onto a couch. Sort of like a slumber party, but with a reasonable amount of sleep.

Meaning
As humans, we strive to create meaning in our lives, which we do by growing, learning and giving. We do these things best when we have connections. Connections with women who both support and challenge me helps me create meaning, especially when I believe those women understand me, or at least have the framework to share a language that leads to understanding.

Kymberly's ABC class students. Photo by Dorothy Salvatori

Kymberly’s ABC class students. Photo by Dorothy Salvatori

Fun
Okay, that’s all well and good and counselor-ish, but just like exercise, if it’s not fun, we aren’t going to do it. Speaking of which, our exercise classes for BAM were at 7 a.m. which we discovered was a bit out of the majority of the attendees’ comfort time zone. So now we have a conundrum to solve – how to help midlife women realize that you gain energy for a long day by getting up early to work out. In any case, Kymberly’s Abs, Balance, Core class and my Drums Alive workout were really fun for all who were there, as evidenced by these comments from Candace Karu of Cabot Cheese and Rebecca Olkowski.

picture of Alexandra with drumsticks

We didn’t actually do Drums Alive on the Nissan; we used chairs.

Stories
As I’ve aged, I’ve discovered that I’m an outgoing introvert, or maybe an extrovert who likes a lot of “listening and observing” time. While teaching or presenting (we also gave a talk about media kits for bloggers) I am very animated and sociable, yet found that much of my “people enjoyment” came from listening to others’ stories. Are you more of a talker or a listener? I found it extremely satisfying to hear the stories my friends (which was everyone at the conference) shared – stories of loss, powerlessness, poverty, struggle, heartbreak, exhilaration, achievement and reinvention. These stories enabled me to feel part of the “girl gang” as we all have histories that got us to where we are now.

The “In” Group
Do you ever feel like you are on the outside looking at those on the inside? I do sometimes, especially at my job at the university, where every year I’m a year older and the students are still 20. My heart and plans and thoughts and desires all feel young to me, yet sometimes my body reminds me that I’m in my 50s. Sometimes my two boys make me feel old, simply because they are now grown up. I don’t want to be young again, yet certainly don’t see myself as old either. Being around a hundred women my age automatically put me into the “in” group. We were ALL good-looking and effervescent; fashionable and interesting. No-one was dismissed; there was no “outsiders” group. Doesn’t that sound like Friend Utopia?

pic of bowling at Pinewood SocialFriendship
Do you have a good balance of new and long-term friends? As I age, I find it important to make new friends as well as relishing my friendships that go as far back as a half-century. After the conference was over, Kymberly and I were taken on a Nashville sightseeing adventure by good friends we made via social media over the past few years – Kathy of Live the Fine Life, and Brenda (a single redhead from Alabama; hint to single guys). When I was young, I just accepted that everyone I met was my friend. As I aged, that changed, yet I still know when someone JUST IS my friend. I like the freedom age gives me to choose my friends based on nothing more than that I like them.

Nashville CapitolTravel
On that note, you get to see some pictures of downtown Nashville, courtesy of my desire to improve my photography skills. I don’t know if the BAM conference will be in Nashville in 2016, but I do know Nashville has lots to offer. I also know that I’ll be at the conference no matter where it’s held, because – Friends.

pic of Hats Boots sign in Nashvillepic of window at Union Hotel NashvilleUnion Hotel Nashville Lobbypicture of Hatch Printing, Nashvillemosaic entrance Betty Boots, Nashvillewarehouse with crooked windows Money
As Kathy Bates said in Fried Green Tomatoes, “Face it girls, I’m older and have more insurance.” In other words, we have money. And we’ll spend it with brands that acknowledge our existence. The sponsors of the inaugural Bloggers at Midlife conference deserve a shout-out for doing just that.
Support these brands:
Stouffer’s
Nissan
Collective Bias
Vibrant Nation
Cabot Cheese
Always Discreet
1010 Park Place
Albertini Int.

2

Hormone Hell to Hormone Heal: Guest Post by Debra Atkinson

Debra Atkinson, Guest Poster

Radio host, Debra AtkinsonYou are going to get a kick out of this guest post by the highly qualified, fully irreverent, fitness professional, and midlife specialist, Debra Atkinson MS, CSCS. After she interviewed us for her podcast, WellUAfter50’s, we knew you would enjoy her style and substance! We also hope you listen to the episode with Debra and us, Better Sex, Arms, and Knees as You Age.   After you read her solutions for hormone hell below.

 

The fitness world is abuzz with what to do for your muffin-top, belly fat, and bat wings. Diets offer abundant advice for melting it, blasting it, and banishing it. All the jumpstart workouts are usually prepared to take advantage of a woman’s desire to go sleeveless Saturday. Unfortunately, even the legit diet sense and exercise eloquence you know won’t matter if you’re in hormone hell.

If you’re in hormone hell, just keep going.”

To get the hormone bullies off your playground, discover your GPS for stopping the way hormones plot against your best efforts. Here’s how you can put up the good fight. No mo’ ho’s wrecking your plans for energy and vitality.

Sleep Tight and Right

Debra's book, Sleep Yourself SkinnyIf you’re short-sheeting yourself on sleep your belly fat may thrive. When sleep is down, cortisol is up. We know cortisol as a houseguest we didn’t invite. Truth is some healthy hormone stress is good. If you’re sleep deprived though, two other ho’s play games on you. Ghrelin tells you that you’re hungry and usually not for carrots and kale. On the flip side of things, when you’re low on sleep, Leptin never tells you that you’re full. Cortisol is going to help you store the extra calories from cravings in your belly. Not the kind of help you want.

Get Anti-Inflammatory Exercise

Now you’re thinking, “I’ve heard about aerobic and intervals, what’s the anti-inflammatory workout?” Look for exercise that keeps cortisol levels from going too high. A little cortisol for a short time is a good thing. Too much cortisol for too long is going to take advantage of your stress levels and elevate cortisol. Growth Hormone is another factor in your best exercise plan. You want to get the most growth hormone for the least cortisol. They’re on the teeter-totter playing nicely together. For best results we want higher growth hormone than cortisol. What works best? Short sessions of higher intensity intervals (bursts of your best effort) and longer sessions of moderate exercise. Take a moderate walk in nature without being a slave to a heart rate monitor and you’ve got a great cortisol reducing, immune system enhancing groove on.

Embrace Your Stress

All these years we’ve been told how bad stress is for your health. Run, Forrest, Run, they said. New news is that you don’t have to hire the mafia to rid yourself of toxic people or “Om” your way through your day. If you change the way you think about your stress you can change your body chemistry. You’ll live better, longer.

Your stress isn’t your stress. The way you think about your stress is the stress.

Studies show people who say they have low levels of stress lived longer and healthier than those with high levels of stress. No surprise, right? New studies also showed that among all the respondents who said they had high stress levels, those who thought the stress was “bad” died sooner. Those who thought stress made them stronger and more resilient lived longer with less incidence of disease.

Correct those well-meaning peeps who want to wallow with you. Surround yourself with some strong-minded stress-resilient friends. You’re still here after all; stress can’t be that bad!

Stop Dieting

midlife woman w/ tape at waist

You already know diets don’t work long-term. In fact, our rollercoaster weight loss and weight gain is what got many of us where we are today: frustrated that doing the right thing now doesn’t work. Diets are stress on your body. Women tend to think stress is emotional. It’s about relationships or finances or work pressures. Unfortunately, stress does not discriminate. If you’re exercising too hard or you’re eating too few calories or too much of the wrong thing, that’s also stress. There’s a 25% increase in cortisol among dieters. So, a diet backfires. Reduce calories and increase cortisol. Cortisol increases fat storage and cravings. Stress fat tends to go to the belly.

Reduce Caffeine

Wired and tired is the new norm. We’re exhausted but staring at the ceiling. Mid-afternoon if you’re reaching for that java or pop fix, think twice. Caffeine increases cravings by 23%. What happens if you give in and it’s not kale and carrots? Insulin teams up with cortisol and these two belly-fat bullies have their way with you. Once insulin is released all fat metabolism stops. You store and hold fat easier: a skill you don’t even remember working toward.

Try These Strategies

Know how much sleep you need. A simple sleep-need assessment can help. (link to include: http://bit.ly/1CyQtBg) Plan your exercise and plan your exercise-under-stress so you don’t let cortisol go wild. Buff your relationship with stress. Get your bring-it-on attitude staring it down. Take a diet cleanse. Just say no. If you focus on all the right foods you’ll reduce cravings naturally. Treat yourself to fresh foods in abundance and you’ll never have to go hungry again. Your hormones will thank you. They may thank you by dropping a few pounds or inches. Naturally rested with sleep and naturally juiced by plentiful nutrition you’re less likely to reach for a jolt of caffeine. If the urge comes try a natural pick-me-up like lemon or orange water.

You’ll be hormone healed in no time!

Debra Atkinson, MS, CSCS started teaching aerobics in 1984 with big hair, high top Reeboks and leg warmers. Lycra was the fabric of fitness and she embraced it. Over 30-years she’s taught, trained, managed, lectured and presented. Chief of Everything (COE) at Voice For Fitness, she’s a fitness speaker and consultant for personal training businesses. She’s the author of Navigating Fitness After 50: Your GPS For Choosing Programs and Professionals You Can Trust and the coming soon book The After 50 Fitness Formula For Women. Friend her on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14

Top 7 Tips to Get Fit in 7 Weeks

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

A 56 year old reader asks how to quickly get back into shape:

picture of Parasailing

Parasail Your Way to Hawaii

Dear K and A: I’ve gotten fluffy in the last year. I need to be bikini worthy in 7 weeks when I’ll be blogging from Hawaii. What are the top tips you can suggest to get me ready?

Usually I’m in fairly good shape (for my age). I had a really hectic last year with a big work project and it threw me off my game (white flour and sugar became my boyfriend). I probably have about 30 pounds to lose. A normal fun day for me used to be a 25 mile ride followed by a couple of hours of kayaking. I did do a 12 mile hike at sea level a few weeks ago and did fine. I just started walking 4-6 miles, 3-4 times a week. I have access to a fabulous gym and am willing to do whatever there. I enjoy weight training and am familiar with most of the moves.

My eating is not too messy. I’m a vegetable and fruit junkie and am fine without meat. The bread I buy is 100% whole grain and I look for high fiber. Oatmeal or eggs with toast is my usual breakfast. I don’t drink alcohol, sodas of any kind, fruit juices or sports beverages. It’s only coffee in the morning and water the rest of the day. My one vice is coconut milk French Vanilla creamer. It’s almost non-negotiable!!
Kimberly, Lake Tahoe, CA of fiftyjewels.com

Alexandra: Wow, that is pretty detailed. You sound quite healthy, so perhaps it’s a matter of some tweaks to your exercise regimen and diet, not major changes.

1. Keep a Food Journal

Write down everything you are eating, and I mean everything, including 2 sips of wine, 1 bite of Ben & Jerry’s, and 3 almonds. Just the awareness of what you’re eating will create change. You need to find out where you are sabotaging yourself, as oatmeal and eggs aren’t the issue, and you already seem knowledgeable about the hidden sugars/ calories in fruit juice.

picture of avoid / eat foods

Your Calories Should be Healthy Calories (photo from the Lorna Jane 2015 “Move Nourish Believe”)

2. Evaluate More Than Calories

Once you’ve tracked your food choices for 3 days, look through your list to see what you can eliminate without obsessing or getting into a battle with yourself. Be aware that a 350 kcal Ding Dong won’t give you the energy, satiety or nutrients that two 390 kcal stalks of celery with peanut butter will. As your creamer is important to you, keep it. I suspect you will need to look at portion sizes more than food choices.

3. Pay Attention to the Math

People who are successful at keeping weight off after weight loss aim for 1.5 – 2 pounds loss per week. Thirty divided by 7 weeks is 4 pounds per week. Probably not sustainable in the long run, but if you get a deficit of 14,000 calories per week, you can do it. I do not recommend or endorse this solution. As the possessor of an advanced counseling degree, I’m all about the positive, not the negative, and I’d rather see you feel successful about losing a realistic 15 pounds than unsuccessful if you aim for 30 and reach 15. Can you get a 7,000 per week deficit?

Kymberly: Well, Kimberly, not only do we share a name, but also a similar dilemma. Like you, I have always been active, am 56, and gained 30 pounds in the last few years even though I eat more healthfully than ever before. So I hear you … except that part about wearing a bikini! One-pieces are my friend.

My sister’s key tips are intake focused. My suggestions are output oriented. You need to sub in high intensity interval training at least twice a week and get busy with that strength training that you are fortunate to already value.

4. Add High Intensity Intervals to Your Cardio

Walks are great, (and what I can manage while I await surgery for some knee issues). In your case, you need to change things up as you walk. Get specific cardio plans for weight loss here and here. Basically you need to alternate your long, steady state walks with shorter, heart pounding interval hikes that push your heart rate as high as you can safely tolerate for about 2-3 minutes, then level out. Repeat several times. Push yourself by climbing a steep hill, either outdoors or on cardio equipment such as a treadmill or elliptical. Pick up the pace for a power walk. Strap on a backpack that is loaded and walk hard and fast. If you are kayaking, paddle as if sprinting for a finish line.

Find routes, exercise modes, and paces that vary so you constantly force your body to adapt upwards to the new demands. Alternate the long, semi-comfy routes with shorter, harder ones.

picture from IDEA convention at the Bling Fitness booth

Strength Training is Recommended for Boomer Women

5. Strength Train All Major Muscles At Least Twice a Week

As we age, strength training gets more, not less important. While overloading all major muscles at least two times a week is fantastic, you need to aim for at least three times per week given your time frame and goals. Instead of performing single joint, isolated moves (such as hamstring curls) do multi-joint, or compound exercises, such as squats or lunges.

Since you like resistance training, try this Tabata workout from our friend Tamara Grand. It’s a high intensity, low impact routine that will give your metabolism a calorie-burning jolt.

Alexandra and Kymberly:

6. Get More Sleep, Less Stress. Meditate on That!

Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Not only will you be sleeping instead of eating late-night snacks, you will also be giving the hormones leptin and ghrelin time to do their work. You already know about Sugar. Now you know about Sleep. The other “S” is Stress, which you discovered was an issue during that big work project. Consider listening to meditation music or words while you’re on those walks.

In fact, meditation has just been shown to help with losing weight– pretty exciting stuff, right??!! — so consider adding even 5 minutes of meditation or guided visualization to your day. Our meditation post was written before the recent research on meditation aiding weight loss. Click though, as you will find some good ways to begin a practice.Outdoors activity  - mood

Alexandra: Choose from above the activities and methods that work for you and that you will actually do. Maybe you’ll enjoy a dance class. Maybe you’ll prefer to do high intensity interval training by yourself in the weight room. Maybe you’ll change the timing of when you eat that fruit.

And of course, take a look at a few of our previous posts that help answer your question:
Lose 10 Pounds in 4 Weeks
Best Workouts to Burn Fat
Do You Have a Stuck Metabolism?
Keep us posted on your progress, as we’d love to help you celebrate your successes. Besides, research has proven that making your goals public increases your chances of success. Okay, I just snuck Accountability in as bonus Tip #7.

Now we’re off to locate our swimsuits for all those hikes we’ll do in Hawaii when we sneak ourselves along on your vacation.

Take your own vacay twice a week when you subscribe to our blog. Enter your email in the right column and start reaching your active aging goals starting …. whenever you take our advice!

 

“The Other Talk”: Changing the Conversation about Postmenopause

The Other TalkAfter we reach age 50, are there still some things that mom knows best? Well, as you’ll see in this funny video “The Other Talk”, the answer is a resounding YES, especially when it comes to postmenopause.

“The Other Talk” uses the premise of ‘the talk’ recognized as a cultural event in life where mothers talk with their teenage daughters about sex. “The Other Talk” expands this coming of age tradition to the next generation with a hilarious take on how that conversation unfolds some 40 years later!

“Until recently, I was unaware that many women are uncomfortable or embarrassed to discuss symptoms of postmenopause, and therefore, suffer in silence,” says Emmy-nominated actress Brenda Strong, who is known for her role on Desperate Housewives and Dallas. “That’s why I welcomed the opportunity to work with Pfizer on the “Let’s Talk About Change” campaign to help transform the way we think and talk about postmenopause and empower women to take action to find relief.”

She also encourages women to take the following steps to help manage the physical changes that happen after menopause and change their mindset about aging and postmenopause.

CHANGE YOUR AWARENESS

Both menopause and postmenopause are a normal part of aging. Menopause is what happens when a woman’s menstrual period stops for 12 months in a row, typically around the age of 51. While each woman’s experience is different, some women experience symptoms such as hot flashes, trouble sleeping, night sweats, moodiness and urinary problems. However, postmenopause also brings changes to women’s bodies. Postmenopausal vaginal atrophy (or the thinning of vaginal tissues) can occur, and without treatment, symptoms can worsen. Symptoms may include: severe vaginal itching, burning and dryness, painful intercourse, urinary urgency, and painful urination.

CHANGE THE DIALOGUE

If you’re experiencing these postmenopausal symptoms, you’re not alone! Nearly one third of women experience these symptoms after menopause. To help find relief, it’s important to speak openly and honestly with your healthcare professional as well as your partner. Find some tips for starting these conversations here: Change the Dialogue.

CHANGE YOUR OUTLOOK

What else can you do to help manage the stress that can sometimes come with menopause and postmenopause? Laugh! Menopause is a normal, natural event—not a disease—so why not have a little fun with it? Check out “The Other Talk,” which features Strong to help raise awareness
about the symptoms of postmenopause and encourage women to speak up and take action to find relief.


Disclosure: I am participating in a VIN campaign for Pfizer. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, I am in no way affiliated with Pfizer and do not earn a commission or percent of sales. This post was written by Pfizer and supported and shared by Fun And Fit. 

6

Who Wants Perfect Hair? Our Trip to the Sally Hershberger Salon in Los Angeles

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

picture of Alexandra and Kymberly in the early 1970sAs the years pile on, we look less and less alike even though we are identical twins. That is neither good nor bad, though it’s a bit disconcerting when people are surprised that we are related, much less twins. After all, our entire life experience has been based on people knowing the relationship.

But of course, over time things change, and one thing that has definitely been different for the past few years is our hair. One of us has gone to the salon for highlights for years, while the other does an all-over color at home. Which means that both of us think the other sister has “deviated” from the original look. Truth be told, we’ve spent our lives focused on being individuals, though our identity as red-headed twins is set, solid, and immutable. Even when every single hair on our head is grey, we shall refer to ourselves as redheads. It’s who we are.

When we were recently invited for a complimentary color and cut at the Sally Hershberger Salon in Los Angeles, we jumped at the chance to return to our roots (so to speak, because in addition to our hair, our childhood roots are in L.A. This is actually quite a clever word play right here, so feel free to admire it). Since we have a strong desire to keep our red hair for as long as possible, and not go grey into that good night (boomers will get this Dylan Thomas reference), we accepted the invitation (and who wouldn’t). We both like and appreciate our Santa Barbara stylist, whom we totally trust. But a new experience topped with a gift bag of hair products got us into the car and onto the freeway.

The goal – get our color and style more aligned with each other. You can decide if that happened.

Getting hand painted hair color at Sally Hershberger Salon

Freehand balayage hair painting

Alexandra: Both of us had Jessica Gonzalez as our colorist. She paints color on freehand, without using foils, which I had never heard of. It’s called balayage in case you want to request this technique. So the cotton you see in my hair is to keep the strands separate while she worked. I asked her to make mine a bit more red to make my sister happy. I found out the hard way a few years ago that coloring red hair is a challenge, when a stylist in Santa Barbara made so many mistakes that I had to come back and get all-over color to start over. Looking brassy and fake is not for me. I really just want to keep the color I was born with.

waiting at Sally Hershberger Salon for a color and cut

Working hard to look extremely “before” so the “after” is more dramatic.

Kymberly: Did any of you experience a change in your hair with your “change,” i.e. menopause? So far I seem to be the only person to have my hair get thicker and curlier post-meno. Everyone else reports coming out on the other side with thinner hair strands and fewer of them to boot. So my main request to my stylist, Marcos the Magnificent was to use his magic wand to de-frizzify me. And to cut off the split ends while creating a style that leaves my hair as long as possible without needing blow drying, and that frames my face without having hair fall in front of my face, accounting for my glasses and that I teach fitness classes every other day in a pony tail. In other words, I might have just become the client from hair hell. But did Marcos flinch? He did not. He produced! Too bad I did not produce an “after” picture that gives my new cut and color justice.  Suffice to say that when I entered my step class this morning to teach, several people exclaimed over the fabulosity of my color and cut. And since I plan to never wash my hair again as it looks so nice, you can all decide for yourselves in future posts.

As for Jessica, she recommended a color with a hint of copper for me. Her advice was spot on. No wonder, as we discovered that Jessica first attended beauty school then spent FOUR, yes 4 more years assisting (basically apprenticing) at the Sally Hershberger salon before passing an in-house test to become a color specialist. Nick (Alexandra’s stylist) and Marcos similarly had to undergo years of apprenticeship before graduating to the floor as stylists.

hair style and cut from Nick Flores at Sally Hershberger

Alexandra’s hair is so amazing it takes 2 people to style it. Or…they give everyone lots of attention.

Alexandra: My stylist was Nick Flores. I asked him to keep my basic style, but make me look 39 and HAWT. Vanity and unrealistic requests work well for me. As you can see, Nick rose to the challenge. Not only that, but he has a rescue dog and a loving heart, so I adopted him. He’ll receive all my selfies that have good hair as his inheritance.

Marcos Trueba at Sally Hershberger Salon, Los Angeles

Marcos expertly styled Kymberly’s hair without using a straightener.

Kymberly: Do you value good customer service along with top level color and cut? Then, you would be in happy hair heaven here! Just one example of our good experience: Assistant Aaron, a darling young man who asked what I’d like to drink, toodled off to make me the requested decaf iced coffee with cream and sugar. He showed up with my refreshing beverage, asking whether I’d prefer to have him dissolve my sugar first in warm water rather than have it sit in cold crystal form at the bottom of my glass. Who can’t appreciate that attention to detail?

Both of us were happy. Beyond happy. We were overjoyed at the way we looked. We had heard that the salon was very chic, which can sometimes translate to snobby in L.A., but this was NOT the case. Everyone was as nice as could be. Throw in the customer service and overall atmosphere, plus the organization at the salon, and you’ll understand our smiles.

Twins after their color and cut at Sally Hershberger, West Hollywood

Looking red-carpet (and orange divan) ready in our new hairstyles.

And if anyone now has trouble telling us apart, here’s a hint – Alexandra has bangs; Kymberly has glasses.

And of course, if you are in LA near Melrose on North La Cienega and wanting to go glam, this is the place for you. Ask for Jessica, Nick and Marcos. Then ask the paparazzi to please step back and give you room!

Now that you look fabulous enough to invite people over, you might want to clean your hardwood floors with ingredients that are hypo-allergenic, and scent- and dye-free. Enter our Bona Hardwood Floor Care giveaway right here if you are in the U.S.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

4

Facials, Feet and Fitness

Alexandra Williams, MA
picture at the Vionic party at BlogHer

Headed for a handstand. Or the splits.

Part of active aging is taking care of your feet and face, especially if you walk outdoors as often as I do. If your feet are in pain, you won’t want to walk, dance, stand, run, or anything else that is upright. Except maybe walking on your hands. That’s upright. Or upside right. Something like that.

And I’m fairly vain, but more about looking healthy than young, so I want to have skin that is sunburn-resistant and elastic. Dry and wrinkly is a great way to advertise raisins, not faces.

Foot Care

We’ve talked a bit about these topics before. My article “Your Feet, Your Shoes, Your Choices,” is now accessible to consumers (you had to be a member of the professional fitness association to access the piece in IDEA Fitness Journal when it was first published), so give it a read to get advice from the experts on foot care and footwear.

One of numerous posts on the topic of foot and knee pain (They are linked. You know the song) is by my sister. She shares six strategies for avoiding pain while moving.

If you suffer from shin splints (the problem begins in the foot), you’ll want to read this series:

Shin Splints S.O.S.

Preventing Shin Splints

3 Tips for Preventing Shin Splints

Prevent Shin Splints: 3 Calf Stretches

Vionic teal Luxe slippers

This is the pair I brought home for my sister. I’m so nice.

Of course, I am also particular about the shoes I wear, especially for walking and teaching my group exercise classes. Now I can add slippers to the list of protective footwear. At the BlogHer conference a few weeks ago, sis and I were given some Vionic with Orthaheel slippers. Formerly just producers of medical grade footwear, they now offer sandals, shoes and slippers to everyday consumers too. The Orthaheel technology helps reduce over-pronation, (the most common foot issue). That’s a good thing, as correcting over-pronation can improve foot function and relieve plantar fasciitis, as well as knee and back pain. Recommended by both the American Podiatric Medical Association and Dr. Andrew Weil, I am enjoying wearing them around the house. I don’t think I’ll teach in them.

Skin Care

pic of Alexandra and Kymberly from 1970

Red hair, oily skin, freckles, and some damn fine catwoman glasses.

As kids, we had freckles, fair skin, acne, oily faces, and sunburned easily. As adults, we still have to be careful about our skin even though it’s no longer oily, because we exercise a lot, which means sweat. Additionally, we still sunburn easily and have to be cautious to avoid rosacea. Of course, we have wrinkles too, which we earned, though we aren’t racing to get more. No no no.

Water is a fantastic skin care regimen – it helps cleanse, lubricate and hydrate the skin, as well as removing toxins, but as a Boomer I want more. I also want less. More than just water for my skin. Less stuff that is harmful to my body and aligns with my vegetarian, organic, non-GMO values and practices.

As I’ve aged, I’ve also become more receptive to traditional medicine, which I define as anything that has either been around for thousands of years, or is more aligned with intuition and the “unmeasurable.” I win a lot of stuff – most of you know that I seem to win something every week. And I don’t enter a lot of giveaways. I’m just lucky. I believe it’s my positive energy. Our mom is the same – she would will things to occur. Someday I’ll share the story of how she willed herself to have twins even though no-one else believed her until I was actually born (they had to race to get a second bassinet for Kymberly – the doctor was seriously embarrassed).

Getting a facial with SkinAgain products

Such a lovely place. Such a lovely face. Plenty of room at the Hotel … Orlando.

A few days ago Kymberly and I were given facials using the SkinAgain functional skin care line (they were even gracious enough to give facials to my two boys). Not only are the products vegan, they are also fragrance-, paraben-, gluten- and cruelty-free. And the part that I’m very curious about – they are infused with positive energy (chi, prana, life force – whatever term you use) via a hologram that’s affixed to each product. I asked a lot of questions about this, as I found it fascinating. The owner of SkinAgain refers to it as “collective positive energy infusion,” which to me is about the same thing we get in religion. You may even have participated (or benefited from) intercessory prayer.

My skin can always use positive energy and products, especially on the days when my magic wand is broken.

They sent us home with samples, so my face shall be the test. If only they had sent the estheticians home with us too.

This is not a sponsored post. This is just us sharing info about products that have fused the latest technology and oldest traditions to help deal with our modern, Boomer lives.

save 30% on adidas bags

By the way, if you’re shopping for back-to-school bags (including gym bags and backpacks), we are affiliates with adidas, and they are offering 30% Off adidas Bags right now. This includes their iconic airline bag. No code is needed, just click on the links here. If you make a purchase, we make a small commission. Good all around.

Glasses and Sunglasses

Also, since we’re flashing our catwomans in this post, we should also provide you with a link to our affiliate partner Warby Parker, makers of all kinds of glasses, including fun retro stuff. And for every pair sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need. Do good; See well.

35

Exercise and Confidence in Midlife: I Am Enough

Alexandra Williams, MA
picture of RevRunWisdom of RunDMC at the BlogHer party

At the BlogHer Closing Party. Photo by Daniel Tsi Photography

This past weekend I was at BlogHer, a conference for women bloggers. Several events transpired that made me sad and fired up simultaneously. One – I went to a session for Boomer women; and Two – I chatted with a “magic” mirror at a booth about empowering women.

 

 

Boomer Mini-Con Session

A fairly free-flowing session at which attendees took turns at the mic asking questions and sharing information. One woman said she used to have a blog focused on health and fitness, but she had shut it down due to lack of readership. The next two women up to the mic commented about their need to lose weight. Major disconnect!

picture of magic mirror at The Mrs. Booth

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? You, of course.

The “I Am Enough” mirror at the Mrs. booth (a rock band comprised of midlife women).

You put on headphones, looked at the magic one-way mirror, and listened while the mirror told you all the reasons you are fantastic. As a person who doesn’t lack for confidence, I started dancing and telling the mirror all the reasons why I was fantastic. The mirror told me I was the first person to come up and share why I was enough (and awesome) as opposed to listening and/or crying. Upon reflection, it was rather sad to learn that I was the first (out of thousands) to say I was enough. Women, are we that hard on ourselves?

Take Ownership

selfie with Alexandra Williams and Roni Noone of Fitbloggin

Her tag line: One mom’s journey from fat to skinny to confident

The link between self-confidence and weight/ health is so strong that I am going to say something that is (for me) provocative. Take ownership. Do something about it. Complaining doesn’t count. Wishing doesn’t count. If you don’t have a medical issue that prevents you from moving your body (plus eating and sleeping right), then go move your body. Instead of saying, “I need to lose weight” or “I wish I could be more active,” say instead, “I choose not to,” because that’s what is really going on.

Of course, it’s all about small steps, as we’ve been saying for years right here on this very blog. And of course, progress is not in a straight line. And of course, we understand, as we are Boomers with stoopidhead metabolisms that changed 15 years ago too. But feeling good about yourself is in your control (again, I am not talking about those with medical issues). If you cannot march up to that magic mirror and tell it who’s boss, do something about it. This is a picture I took of my kind of celebrity – Roni Noone, founder of Fitbloggin, She has taken many steps – forward, backward, sideways – to get where she is, which is confident. Read this post by her about feeling more attractive and confident.

All the time, and especially at conferences with lots of women, I’m complimented on my energy level. I get my energy from exercising. I’m complimented on my good looks. I’m actually average looking, but I smile. That makes me look good. My smile is merely the outward reflection of my happiness with the efforts I make every day to make choices that get me to my goals. I’m complimented on how young I act and look. Am I special? Actually, yes. But so are you. As David McCullough told the graduating seniors at Wellesley High a few years back, “The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.” Too many of us believe the first sentence, yet remove ourselves from the second.

This is the part where I link to two well-written conference opinion pieces by women I like who just happen to have fun blackmail pics of me.  Some of my so-called youthful appearance is due to my hair stylist, and some is due to oily teenage skin, but the rest is due to my rejection of our culture’s “rules” for Boomer women. I enjoy my life. I like people. I am a person. So I like me. And I definitely want you to like you. All of you, not just parts.

So if you eat crap and don’t want to, don’t. If you are overweight and unhealthy and think you should exercise, do it. It’s not about willpower; it’s about choices. Small ones throughout the day that add up. What choices are you going to make that will allow you to march right up to that magic mirror and say, “I’m more than enough; I am awesome?”

A little plug for the AARP Care4YouToo contest – For free, you can join the fitness contest (with prizes) that is now in week 3 of 6. Each week can be stand-alone, so you are not behind if you join now. Get suggestions and support as you make the incremental steps I mentioned above. 

 

12

I’m Only Losing 1 1/2 Pounds Per Week on my Diet; Is that Enough?

Alexandra Williams, MA

pic of woman exercisingThis question came up in a group I’m in: “I’ve been working out 5 days a week sometimes twice a day. I’ve been healthy eating and only losing 1 to 1/2 a week. Being a person in her mid 40s my metabolism SUCKS. Is there anything I can do to hypercharge it?”

The answer is always yes. It’s also “It depends.”

In the group thread 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 we were asked whether it was 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 intense cardio with resistance training and a nutritious diet. 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.

As my sister points out in her post about choosing the “right” diet, it’s far easier for most people to cut out a 500-calorie drink than to exercise strenuously for about an hour.

picture of woman eating apple

An apple a day keeps the, er, cowboy hat on!

So our advice to you (and the millions of other people 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). If you want an in-depth explanation about what does and doesn’t work for fat loss, listen to our radio interview with Dr. James Hill, member of the NIH Expert Panel on Obesity, author of “State of Slim,” co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry, and co-founder of America on the Move, a national weight gain prevention initiative.

While I’m at it, I’ll throw in my occasional mantra, “Never give up. Never surrender.” It’s from a movie that cracks me up. [youtube]http://youtu.be/9fdcIwHKd_s[/youtube]

Two bonus items for you:

1) We have a giveaway ending in a few hours that you should enter. You could win either a Foot Note shoelace or bracelet motivational fitness charm from Momentum if you have a U.S. address, so head to our fan page right now!
Blue Diamond almonds used in Hello Dolly bars
2) 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.

If you’re wondering what could be better than a galaxy quest, it’s a quest for accurate, successful and engaging fitness & health info! And that’s what occurs when you:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit or

2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference at (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Photo credits: Woman walking – GaborFromHungary; Woman eating apple – Mensatic.

13

Ultimate Baby Boomer Workouts: 7 Key Training Principles

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Radio episode for women over 50 7 training principlesKymberly: Want the Ultimate Baby Boomer Body? Personally I am ok with the “Ixnay on the Bikini, but I’ll Still Wear a One-Piece” Body. To get either version, you’ll need to incorporate 7 important, midlife-specific training principles into your exercise routines. Award-winning master instructor and worldwide fitness expert, Mo Hagan was a recent guest on our Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers radio show. Mo’s specific focus on midlife women meant she was able to share the Best Exercises, Workout Programs and Fitness Trends for Women Over 50 .

Maureen Hagan

Mo Hagan feeling and looking Mo’ Bettah in her 50s

During the interview she listed key workout components baby boomer women need to achieve optimal fitness. First, though, we all agreed that midlife exercisers (and future exercisers) are special.

Women Over 50 Are Unusual Exercisers in 6 Ways

  1. Ours is the first generation to grow up with exercise continued into our adult years;
  2. Our generation’s attitudes and priorities make it easier for us to train and be trained and to understand the need for intentional exercise;
  3. We have the funds and resources to invest in our well being (that’s the statistical theory, at any rate);
  4. Our age group is one that is proactive and doesn’t take our health for granted;
  5. We desire socialization and camaraderie, with a particular fondness for group exercise. Therefore, we tend to prioritize exercise differently when we are a part of a group or when under a trainer’s leadership;
  6. The downside is that we also tend to fall off or quit being active when life gets chaotic, and caregiving or other family needs pull us away.

So what do we unusual, interesting, unique, and different women need to do to achieve functionally strong and healthy bodies, minds and attitudes?

outdoor training for Alexandra

Alexandra being unique and interesting

Alexandra: I am seriously hoping the answer involves Clive Owen or Colin Firth, but I’ll settle for just assuming you are speaking of ME when you use the adjectives “unusual, interesting, unique, and different.” Hmmm, second guess. Does it involve bacon? Even though I am a vegetarian, I feel certain that the answer to many things is “bacon.”

Now,  you said midlife women are special in 6 ways. And if you’d given 6 training principles, I’d know Bacon was the answer — Kevin Bacon. If you don’t know about the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, you can read the link while doing your seven training principles. To defy gravity (and age), plus engage in gym movements, do this Footloose workout.

Kymberly: We know my sister is really Baking, not Bacon Woman. Anyway, stay Footloose and Bacon Free when you incorporate the following into your regimen:

7 Training Principles for Women Over 50

1. Increase Intentional Stepping

Continue to build bone strength by selecting impact activities. Especially at our age, we need to strike the ground by walking, jogging, skipping, and stepping to stimulate our bones. Step classes are particularly effective at offering impact without adverse joint stress. This is a case of wanting gravity’s effects!

2. Use Body Weight in a Functional Manner

Choose movements and exercises that mimic daily life activities such as climbing stairs, loading groceries into the car, carrying luggage on fun, exotic, vacation trips. (A boomer can envision, nicht wahr?) Such exercises might include step ups and squats, for instance.

3. Train to Preserve Back Health

Brace through the core and hinge from the hips. Add dead lifts to your repertoire — but let’s call them “live lifts,” shall we? Look for opportunities to activate the back (dorsal side) of your body in addition to performing ab and core work.

4 .Focus on Posture

Be sure to sit and stand “strong.” Address muscle imbalances. Take action now to improve posture now and later. No Dowager’s Hump for you, just Dowager title and property rights. Speak to me Downtown Abbey fans!

5. Engage in “Brain Gym” Movements

Move in ways that connect the left and right sides of the brain such as crossing the midline, performing diagonal movements, (cross chops anyone?) memorizing movement patterns (choreography is a good thing), and following cues or directions. You can see where fitness classes really are ideal for those of us wanting more than physical payoff from our workouts.

Kymberly on log in Yosemite

Defy Gravity AND Train for Good Posture standing, sitting. lying, hovering in midair!

6. Defy Gravity

Reap on land some of the gravity defying benefits of water exercise. Who doesn’t look forward to reduced joint stress, buoyancy, and a certain lightness of being? Translate that “up” feeling to land movement by emphasizing the up phase. For example, with squats, engage your muscles more when standing than lowering. Change the pace, speed, or emPHAsis of moves to prioritize the press away from the floor. In short, concentrate on the parts of exercises that work against gravity.

7. Input Impact to Improve Internal Integrity

I, I, I , yi yi! Use both cardio and resistance training to target age-related risks and preventable declines. Do the exercises you choose challenge your mobility? Balance? Bones? Coordination? Just as you might choose nutritionally dense foods, select movements that offer a compound or multiple return for your invested effort.

Kymberly: We recommend you listen to our entire interview with Mo if you want more detail, and to hear Alexandra’s mental skips and jaunts. As Mo recommends in the radio episode, we need to begin with the end in mind — to increase our overall strength, stamina, core strength, mental agility, resistance to disease, and ability to continue pursuing life with vigor and enthusiasm. Heck, we also want to look good, right?

pic of TRX plank tuck

When Will This End?

Alexandra: I’ve only got my end in mind.

To really be ahead of the game, try Training Principle Number 8 and 9:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

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