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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
When the tourism bureau booked the tour for us, we weren’t quite sure if it was a place where you ride the horses, ride a wagon behind the horses, pet them in a stable, or view them behind a fence. Turns out it’s none of these – it’s something way better.
We got a personal tour from Ralph, the owner of the approximately 2,000 acre ranch that stretches from the ocean to the mountains, and has over 80 (if I am remembering correctly) Clydesdales who roam the property. They aren’t exactly wild, nor are they tame – they are beautiful creatures with names who will happily come up to you (while you stay safely in the vehicle), let you pet them, sniff the vehicle hoping for hay, then wander off to roll in the grass or scratch their chests on a fence post.
Just a few bits of info about Covell’s:
The house Ralph lives in was built in 1860. When you take the tour, you’ll get a full history of the house, the horses, the property, the personalities of the various owners, stewards and visitors, and the legacy he is continuing forward. Along with the history, you’ll get quite a few entertaining anecdotes too, as Ralph is quite the raconteur.
Experts told Ralph he could take a portion of his ranch, turn it into 46 buildable parcels of land, and make a fortune. Something along the lines of $30 million. His reaction? He turned it into a nature conservation easement to protect it for future generations. The views will make you cry, they are so astounding, from pine forests to rolling pastures (and “rolling” really is the correct word). I swear you can almost see all the way to San Simeon.
When I went to Hearst Castle, I kept wishing I could walk instead of taking the tour bus, as the views were begging for me to photograph them. Even with a fast shutter speed, I was still frustrated, as the glare from the bus windows was a problem. But as soon as we got out on our first hillside stop at Covell’s, I got my wish. But better. I could have fit my whole family for a portrait onto one of the branches of the oak tree that my son climbed. I could zoom out for ocean and mountain landscapes, or zoom in for pine cone close-ups, and take my time.
Horses!!!! These are champion Clydesdales, and it is obvious as soon as you see them. The horses know the sound of Ralph’s truck and come up to it when he arrives. Roll your windows down and keep your camera ready, as they will stick their heads in to check you out. I know nothing about horses, but for pure aesthetics and wonderment, these are the best (my favorite was Debutante, due to her freckles). And once Ralph tells you their stories you’ll be even more impressed. I took a quick 3-minute video that you’ll want to see (follow me on Periscope while you’re at it)
For various reasons, Covell’s Clydesdales isn’t easy to find on social media (and the website is temporarily down), but that just makes it easier for YOU to have it to yourself, because we know the secret to making a booking. You can call Ralph directly at (805) 927-3398 or follow the Highway 1 Discovery Route link. Once the website is back up, you can go to CovellsClydesdales.com too. Or email CovellsClydesdales@mac.com. A bit more work than a few computer clicks, yet that won’t deter you travel and nature lovers, right?
by Alexandra Williams, MA
Our visit to Covell’s Clydesdales was supported by California Highway 1 Discovery Route. We did a four-day inter-generational tour of some of Highway 1’s most stunning and accessible coastal towns in Central California. Contact them for suggested itineraries and all the other travel info that will make your trip as fun as ours was.
But first, take a look at our recently released program, “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50,” (over 23 videos, 10 modules, popular abs questions addressed).
Our quick video tutorial gives you helpful specifics on how to perform oblique (side) abdominal crunches correctly. And as a bonus, we also show how NOT to do them.
Good news – you don’t have to learn technical terms. But just in case you’re wondering why we say “obliques” instead of “waist” or “that area that encircles your spine that used to be oh-so-tiny way back in high school,” we’ve got some quick Ed-U-Cay-Shun-al info about the technical terms.
Your external obliques run diagonally, forming a V in front. Imagine you’re putting your hands into a vest or front coat pocket. Feel those rock hard muscles? Yeah, me neither. But I do know that my obliques are there somewhere.
Your internal obliques run at right angles to your external obliques and form an inverted V. Put your hands on your hips with your thumbs in front and fingers behind, pointing down as if putting your hands into back pockets.
For those of you who like the nitty-gritty, oblique-y details, here’s an excellent definition by our colleague Dr. Len Kravitz, who teaches at the University of New Mexico and is way smart!
Now you know the official terms for “I want my waist to be fit and trim, but don’t want to copy any of those lame exercises I see people do in the gym that are destined to hurt their back or neck.” More importantly, you can now confidently add oblique crunches to your exercise routine. Score!!
Photo credits: CreativeCommons. org
by Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Now he’s graduating from high school, with plans to move across the country to go to a university that has 22 science majors for him to choose from. I put him on that bus 13 years ago to start him on the journey to get him prepared for now. I cried a little back then because he looked so small inside that big bus. And I will cry at his ceremony because he looks so big.
In between my crying jags, I hope I’ve taught him how to live a healthy, rewarding life that’s full of purpose and joy. Those of you who are parents will have your own definition of what that means, but the things I can point to include:
* He doesn’t drink soda, and he knows the difference between healthful and unhealthful foods
* He gets plenty of sleep (boy, does he like to sleep)
* He knows how to make people laugh, which will help him in work and social situations
* He knows how to be a good host to guests, and has excellent manners
* He believes exercise is part of life; it just is
* He is becoming more confident about taking risks
* He has seen me act like a dork in public (a lot) and it’s now somewhere inside his brain that you don’t need to wait around for approval; you have to approve of yourself
* He knows the value of money, how it works, what it can (and cannot) do
* He drives safely (I believe) and wears a seat belt
* He is beginning to appreciate his younger brother for what he can do, rather than railing against what he cannot
* He can be trusted with money (although he can’t ever seem to find his own iPod cord)
* He eats when he’s hungry, not because he’s lonely or bored or because it’s there
* He writes thank you notes and is gracious
* He chooses friends wisely
Hmmm, I’m his mom so I could make a really long list. But my son isn’t a list; he’s so much more, just as your children are more than you imagined and hoped for! And no matter how much I exercise and make my heart strong, it will never be big enough to hold all the love I have for him.
I”m going to share a cute story that demonstrates that he “gets” how nutrition works. When we moved to Santa Barbara to be nearer my sister, he was 12. Kymberly took him to the grocery store with her. When they came back with bags full of prepackaged, processed food (she’s not like that anymore), he turned to me and said, “Mom, I love shopping with Auntie Kym. She buys food. You buy ingredients.” I laughed so hard and still smile whenever I think of that.
Earlier this week, my son gave me a gift – he came to my kickbox step class and brought his girlfriend. He knows I love exercise. He knows I love teaching. He knows I’ve wanted him to come to a class so I could show him off. I love having a job where my kid can come.
I haven’t named him here because I am a protective person about his identity, but you get to admire his massive handsomeness (all from me, of course, even though he looks just like his dad) in these photos.
I’m proud of the fact that I’ve taught my kids the link between health and happiness. I’m happy my son is moving on to start the next phase of his life. I’m sad that my son is moving on to start the next phase of his life. And I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be.
What are the things your children do that make you proud?Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for writing about my kid, unless you count 18 years of having him around! His cute tux is a rental. My cute outfit is from Aventura Clothing. And thanks to my sister, who let me take over our blog so I could write this.
We bring you a guest post today, compliments of two young men who have been members of a nutrition club, study nutrition, and haven’t had soda in over a year.Miles Rouzer, with additional research by Willie Pate
But this isn’t about trash-talking school lunches, because I want this to actually be read in less than four hours. Teens actually do want to eat food that’s good for them, not just pizza, chips and sodas every day. So…what are some good things to pack as a snack or lunch?
The absolute best thing to bring is a mad grip (aka a handful) of tangerines! Not only are they delicious and nutritious but you can waste some precious minutes of class time in an attempt to peel off the skin in one whole piece!
A nicely rounded healthy lunch would look something like this:
* peanut butter and jelly (from the local farmer’s market) mashed between two pieces of whole wheat bread (makes one heck of a fine sandwich)
* Planters NUT-rition mix
* finish strong with a delicate cherry pie LaraBar
If you want to be known as a gourmet chef, try this one out for size:
* the night before cook up a batch of quinoa and a vegetable medley of some sort (stir fry also works, and I actually prefer it), then just microwave that goodness at school or carry a microwave to school in your backpack – LOL
* those Juicy Juice boxes go great with this
* a snack with this could be a Zbar, which are actually really dank (translation: awesome)
Another lunch that I make quite often:
* turkey jerky for snack
* turkey sandwich, with turkey from your local deli of course, with some fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. Feel free to add homemade bacon to this. Just kidding! Unless you do that kind of thing…
* some apples, which helps get your body enough fiber without making you have to eat that horrid “fiber sticks” old-person cereal instead of Cap’n Crunch in the morning
* lastly, there are some interesting pouches called Mashups Squeezable fruit that you can eat to get a straight injection of healthfulness
I know that many people think teens just eat junk, but we actually like stuff that’s good for us too. Except shrimp; I hate shrimp. And here’s a little hint for adults – if you put healthy stuff into the school vending machines, that’s what we’ll eat. And we are also concerned about our future. I bring this up because I found out about a cool company called H.U.M.A.N. Healthy Vending (helping unite man and nutrition). It’s a company that places healthy vending machines in schools (and other places) and gives 10% of the proceeds back to charitable causes that fight obesity and malnutrition. Some of the snacks they sell are mentioned above, so you know it’s regular food that kids eat. Some of the snacks were definitely not me.
Anyway, I hope parents are reading this too, so you’ll know to buy us healthy food for us to pack in our lunches.
Giveaway: Thanks to Healthy Vending, we have one sample pack of healthy snacks to give to one lucky reader. Named in Entrepreneur Magazine as a “Top 100 Brilliant Company” and in Forbes Magazine as one of “America’s Most Promising Companies,” they are on a mission to put healthier food options in front of consumers. For your chance to win the sample pack pictured here, put a comment below and (if you’re on Twitter) send out a tweet mentioning this giveaway via @healthyvending. Let us know in the comments that you’ve sent the tweet. If you want to find them via Facebook, they are at H.U.M.A.N. Health Vending. Contest ends midnight PST, Friday, Jan. 20. We’ll notify the winner on Saturday, Jan. 21.
If you’re a student, what are some healthy foods you pack for your lunches?
Congratulations to Emily at Family and Live in Las Vegas, the winner of the healthy snacks sample pack.
Guess what?! Planking and a fitness plank are not the same thing. For example, if it’s Hugh Hefner and the Playboy bunnies, that’s planking:
Actually, that looks kind of fun. Maybe I’ll try it. Gotta find a good location, though. Then I will focus on demonstrating the wrong and right way to do a fitness plank.
Hmm, obviously my son wants to be JUST LIKE ME when he grows up!
Readers: What crazy locations have you sought out for your foray into planking?
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
This blog is mine, all mine. (Insert maniacal laughter here) as A-twin is off on vacation. She’s probably upping her serotonin and dopamine levels, which is a brain balancing good thing! So you all get to hear about my fave topic these days (ok, my “obsession”) –– how can we achieve the healthiest brain possible?
That’s enough sitting and reading for now, eh? Time to get a move on. She’s a brainiac, brainiac, on the floor, and she’s dancing like she’s never danced before!
For the record, the rumors of twins being half-wits are not true! I got all the brains! Alexandra got the
looks, personality, inheritance, sympathy cards.
Readers: What would you do to get smarter with age and be the most intelligent 100 year old around?
Brain Graphic courtesy of the talented Heather Frey, aka SmashFit, a fitness pro par excellence AND a graphic designer! Did I mention that exercise also increases creativity?
When there are changes in the nervous system (spinal cord, brain, neurons, nerves, etc.) and circulatory system (heart, veins & arteries deliver blood to body’s tissues), this can cause a drop in the amount of blood getting to the brain. This decrease leads to Ka-Thunk – loss of consciousness. We discussed this right here and here.
* Anemia is having a lower than normal red blood cell count. Why does this matter? Because a low count means decreased oxygen to the brain. And lots of university students are iron-deficient, which is strongly correlated to anemia. Lots of females with heavy periods are prone to anemia too.
* Eating disorders wreak havoc on the body, so it’s no surprise that fainting is a result.
* Pregnancy is fairly uncommon, but not unknown to this age group. Besides changes to the circulatory system and dehydration, those dang fetuses can sit right on top of the blood vessels and SQUEEZE, there goes the brain’s blood supply.
* Stress affects the nervous system, and not in a good way. Blood pressure goes LOW, LOW, LOW when you get under stress. This is rare for university students, as they never, ever worry about finals, papers, social issues, money, grades; that kind of stuff!
* Drugs do not mix well with exercise, including some prescription meds. Actually, if you’re misusing or abusing drugs, fainting is probably the least of your health worries!
* Medical issues, such as cardiac (heart) problems, seizures, or certain types of migraines are a big deal. If you’re fainting a lot or for longer than a minute, get checked out!
* Hyperventilation (fast breathing) causes carbon dioxide (CO2) to decrease in the blood. Combine exercise with an anxiety/panic attack, and you see the problem!
* Overexercising pisses off your histamine receptors, and they get so upset that they overact.
* One of the most common reasons students faint is dehydration. Drink more fluids, especially water, and eat properly before your workout. Sadly, this is so easy to prevent, yet accounts for most of the fainting. Does this sound like you? If so, get a water bottle. Use it!
* Another frequent reason for passing out in class is becoming overheated. This goes along with getting dehydrated, so after you get your water bottle, stand by the fan, A/C unit or the open door.
And now we come to the reason that I suspect there’s an epidemic of fainting this particular quarter – too many people in the room. More students are showing up to class, which means they are all getting hotter, sooner. Considering the fact that students are not fainting in the early morning classes, but are dropping with alarming consistency in the mid-day slots, my guess is a reasonable one. Now I just have to figure out if it’s better to have fewer students (it’s hard to say no to all those eager undergrads) or require them to bring personal spritzers! Or ask them to be absent more often!
Bonus word: Syncope – This is the medical term for “fainting after exercise.” Pre-syncope is when you have signs that you’re about to faint, but manage to recover before fainting occurs. Not to be confused with “syncopate,” which is to place musical accents on the normally unaccented beats, or to shorten a word such as “Sequim” to “Squim.” (Anyone from the Pacific Northwest knows this one!)
Photo credits: Creative Commons
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
A: You have PFS? I have SFS – Sistella Femala Syndrome. That’s when you have a female twin who can’t (or won’t) help a sister out! I have found nothing, but nothing, to alleviate that particular pain. As to your knee…you could do these knee exercises while balancing against a wall (and holding a delicious pregnant-lady snack), yet we suggest avoiding #s 3 & 8 and maybe 4. We love the advice on familydoctor.com, but we also suggest you talk to Real Life Doctor dot Brooklyn Ob-Gyn. Of course, we could suggest you take a break, but you are a pregnant lady, which means you feel impelled to do stuff. But really, your knees would feel fine if you sat down and let the bad boy who got you pregnant do all the work!
K: I think you are secretly asking two questions: “what exercises can I still do to stay fit while pregnant?” AND “what exercises can I do to help with knee pain?” Well, we are offering a two-for-one coupon special (kind of like you and your baby-to-be). Alexandra already addressed the knee situation. Gotta ask — any chance you could and would get into a pool and swim or do aqua classes? You can keep up the workouts with minimal knee loading. Just no peeing in the pool, pregnant personage! For overall activity check out the ACOG Guidelines for exercising during pregnancy. Keep in mind that the guidelines are for the “average” pregnant person, which means averagally inactive and kinda sedentaryish, which you are not. So you and your doctor may free you to do more (we are just in a link crazy kind of mood here).
Once you have your baby, you can enroll in the exclusive fitness training program for parents: lift your baby over your head 10 times per day…..until he or she is 18. After that, employ your baby to do all housework and anything else that might hurt your knee. That should free you to get back to those core strengtheners.
A: We hope these exercises help you get to the end of your pregnancy in more comfort. And peace. And joy.
K: (And that’s just what the baby’s dad will experience once you are out of pain).
Dear Mom Readers: When you were pregnant, what pained you the most? The least? What did you do about it besides taking it out on the partner?
Photo credits: Creative Commons (Editor B)
A: Legersizes? Legersizes? Is that a Dutch word or a leftover from a Jane Fonda video you have stashed away somewhere? Okay, relax your mind. You are growing sleepy, sleepy. You are traveling back to the early 80s. You are pulling on your leg-warmers and leotard. SNAP! Wake up and get moving, Miss Jackie Foxy Dutchy Brown! Time for your legersizes.
We’ll get to number three later. If your lower body and hip area are carrying any extra fat, you need to engage in regular cardio activity to use up calories. Power walking, biking, and ice skating along frozen canals are all popular and effective cardio activities.Tulip picking does not qualify unless you are running as you grab tulips. In this case you are probably running from the bulb growers who can’t believe you can move so fast in skinny, tight jeans carrying snatched tulips. Of course you cannot zap fat in one particular area through cardio (sometimes called SPOT REDUCING, which is bad English and worse fitness advice), but you can reduce overall fat if that is part of why the jeans are not fitting now.
In addition to reducing stored fat through cardio, you are right to want to do some lower body strength training as well. Not only will such training improve your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories at rest) and help use calories before they get stored as excess body fat, but also you will define and streamline the leg muscles. The important thing is to distinguish between training for hypertrophy (bigger muscles, which you probably don’t want) and actual strength. The exercises Alexandra advises below are all perfect for your goal in that they mostly use your body weight against gravity as the resistance factor. That is, you are not taking on heavy loads as you perform the leg exercises, aka legersizes.
A: I would happily describe some actual exercises for you, but my fingers are all worn out from pulling on my leg-warmers and “tushy-floss” thong leotard. Since you say “do-it-yourself,” I assume you mean at home, no machines, right? Or do you mean you want to grab your leg and move it around a little? Come to think of it, hopping around on one leg, doing the “Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien dance-off” bit.ly/9zUzr3 would be pretty special. But I digress. Since we love happy readers, though, here is a link to some nice exercises that should do the trick:bit.ly/97ZqT2. Pay particular attention to the 3-legged squat, wide squat, single-leg dip squat, all-fours alternate arm/leg lift, lunge w/barbell or bar, alternating power lunges, prone leg lift, standing single-leg hip extension with knee flexion and (finally, I was starting to bore myself) the hip bridge. These are all great exercises, and there are many more, yet here is the most important thing of all…wait for it…wear your skinny jeans while doing all these exercises. That way you know for sure that they’ll fit.
K: Now that your jeans fit, let’s discuss that third aspect mentioned above: fashion tastefulness. If your skinny jeans can easily be imitated by spray paint or if when wearing them you suddenly develop Muffin Top syndrome, then what the heck are you thinking??!! Get some other kind of Euro pants that allow you to comfortably and tastefully cruise the achthondered achtentachtig grachten (888 canals).
Fashionista Readers (including foreigners who speak English): What outfit did you devote exercise time and effort to just so you could wear that special outfit?