3

Allergies and Activity–Something to Sneeze At

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit:

I have really bad allergies during spring when everything is just starting to bloom so I try not to be outdoors (especially on windy days) … to control my symptoms along with the usual allergy medicine. However, I noticed that when I’m running in the morning, I am usually allergy symptom-free! Do you have any ideas why that is the case? Do you think I can distract my allergy enough with activity that it won’t tell my body to sound out the alarm and make me miserable?

Lou, of BVIbrantNow.com Windsor, CA

Kymberly: Veeery interesting, young grassy-hopper. For the record, I am allergic to any kind of running in the morning. Ok, just running. Amazingly I am always symptom-free when power walking. Back to you, Lou: Normally pollen counts are highest in the mornings (check out this MD-reviewed and super readable article, “Exercise Outdoors — Even with Allergies“).  So you’d think you’d be sneezing and wheezing and cursing the purty flowers and bucolic buds on that early run. I know I might curse a leetle teeny bit when up and out early, like anything that is :00 dawn-o’clock.  But there’s a twist to the story. According to this fine, fine, and poachable article, “although exercising outdoors can increase your contact with pollen, ironically, the extra adrenalin your body produces while you are working out can temporarily dampen the allergic response.”  In other words, YES, you can distract your allergy with activity. Make my work easy and just read the darn link, will ‘ya?! The only flaw here is that once you stop, the dampening effect of the adrenalin stops and symptoms come back. So keep running until evening when pollen counts drop or you do. My lawyer says to say “not really.”

Alexandra: I have distracted many, many things over the years with “enough activity” yet have only dealt with grass allergies during soccer games. I sneezed every time the other team scored!  Since your allergy symptoms will increase as your running speed increases, you either need to distract your allergies by running slower (aka walking) or get a face mask. It would appear that even isolating yourself on a pollen and mold-free cruise ship wouldn’t necessarily solve your an allergic reaction, although you would suffer in style. Speaking of suffering in style, why don’t you just get a trendy spacesuit? Then you could run anywhere, in any season, any time of day? Just for the record, I have no actual medical degree, and therefore no idea why you are symptom-free during the worst time of the day for inhaling pollen. My fitness theory? You are out-running whatever the wind is blowing into your face. Sadly, this would mean keeping up or even increasing your running speed. This goes so far against my personal motto of “Why run when you can drive?” that I am having an allergic reaction to my own theory. I recommend you walk with Run…DMC that is.

K: On the days you still want to work out but your allergies are acting up, try either swimming or shifting to indoor cardio activities. Wear a flattering outfit so you can distract someone or something.

A: Lou, if you think you’ve got it bad, take a look at this poor little bear cub. He should not forage in the early hours:

Sneezing bear

Readers with allergies: What tricks do you use to minimize symptoms when you want to exercise but the air says “don’t breathe me now?”

Photo credit: Mike Tually – Creative Commons


2

Pain in the Butt–My Trainer That Is

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: K and A:

I went through some serious medical issues in the last 5 years. But now that I am able to, I would like to find my girlish figure that is hidden somewhere in here. I know it will take some hard work & commitment. But I’m ready. I met with a personal trainer. I told him my goal is to lose weight & get toned up. I thought cardio was good but P(ersonal) T(rainer) said it is only 10% to reach my goal. 40% is weight training or resistance training. And of course 50% is nutrition. He had me do some squats & sit ups on a ball. (poor ball) I’ve been sore for 3 days. I can’t afford the personal trainer. Plus I think he has it in for me… If I keep doing the things he has shown me will the pain subside??? Thanks for the help.

Susie, Las Vegas

K: So your girlish figure turned churlish on you and now it’s time to turn back? Fun and Fit like your attitude! First, let’s do some magic math. Assuming your girlish figure is hiding under some matronly (we could say “Rubenesque“) fat, I prefer 25% cardio, 25% resistance training, 50% good nutrition and 100% laughing along with Fun and Fit twice a week when we publish new posts. That adds up to rollicking times in and out of the gym!

Given your trainer budget, do cardio training on your own as often as feasible and tolerable. Avoid getting too hung up on numbers, including our magic ones above. Unless it’s a phone number of your girlish figure calling to say she wants to get together, then hang up. If you can afford the trainer a little while longer, make the investment in learning strength training as it will pay off. You can avoid more pain (and frustration) having a professional teach you upper body, lower body, and core exercises. If you cannot afford a trainer, hie thee hiney hence to group classes. So effective, so supportive, so affordable, so many ideas to keep you exercising!

A: Stop worrying about the pain as it will subside. Unless you live with Kymberly. Your muscles are adapting to the fact that you are asking them to pay rent after letting them mooch off you free for years. As long as the pain is not in your joints, you are fine. If your trainer is just the right combination of sadism and compassion, your muscles should be somewhat sore after every session! You wouldn’t pay him to let you lie in the sun would you? While we’re on the topic of numbers, I want to encourage you to pay less attention to your scale (at least for the first few months) and more attention to your clothing size. The speed at which you gain muscle strength (and mass) and lose fat is not exactly equal, so you might not enjoy the scale for a while. I mention this in a purely caring, I Hate Scales, kind of way.

As we are both group exercise instructors, we are mucho partial to that form of exercise. Read the class descriptions, choose one that does not have these words–advanced, extreme, high, super, energetic, or killer–and get in there. You can wear your baggiest shmatte so don’t worry about the clingy wear at all. Inform the teacher before class starts that you are a beginner. Say you are nervous. Say you want to be right in front so she or he can keep an eye on you. Allude ever so casually to your medical issues if they will affect your heart rate or ability to remain upright. Tell yourself you’ll do 20 minutes, then stay for 30. Let your teacher know with a smile and thumbs up that you are leaving early because you made it this far. We teacher types get nervous if we think people are leaving early so they can go pass out in the locker room. Oh, while you’re in the locker room, look in the mirror and say “Yay-ess! I did it. And will keep on doing it.” We have no idea what “it” is, but have gotten lots of entertainment out of seeing suckers students do this!

Pained Readers: Do you remember first starting out an exercise program? What do you recall about it? And do you like paintings by Rubens?

8

Back off Back Fat or the Ole’ Lady Gets It

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit:

Yikes!  What do I do for the ole’ lady back????  I have love handles in the back area.  I know I need to lose a few pounds but this is a big problem area for me!!

Thanks,
Terry in Santa Barbara

Back Fat Love Handles

K: Not loving back fat and love handles eh? Trying to get a handle on them, eh? Wanting to get back at your back fat after all these years eh? Think I’m stalling, hoping a good answer will come to me, eh? Well, for a low low price apparently you can buy green tea which will solve all fat problems. I saw it on the internet so it must be true. I think you rub stinky leaves on yourself and food runs away from you. The skinny on back fat is that it’s fat like all other fat. And like all stored fat, you cannot nuke it or spot reduce.You must reduce overall body fat through cardio and resistance training. Where you hold extra insulation is genetically predisposed. So it could be that you are thin-looking everywhere else with your mom and dad having set you up for life with back fat as the preferred storage area.

Now if you want to get a rebate on those green tea leaves, for a medium to high price I will create advice that trains your back fat to move around to the front and enhance your cleavage. Or we can hire someone to stand behind you and shove any back fat forward and up. So Double D-elightful eh?

A: Time for some higher math to create lower fat. One pound of body fat equals 3,500 kcals (calories). To lose one pound of fat, you will have to burn 3,500 kcals. You can do this by eating less and/or moving more. Or you could just drive those extra pounds to a deserted country road and toss them out of the car. Sadly, they have a way of finding their way home! Back to math class–A realistic, sustainable way to get rid of that bad-girl back-fat is to create a 500-kcal deficit per day. 500 kcals X 7 days in a week = 1 pound of fat forever left in the country. That may sound slow, especially if you have more than one pound to lose, but it is still a lot quicker than it took you to put it on, am I right?

K: As you move to caloric deficit and therefore overall fat reduction, spend some dedicated time strength training your upper and middle back muscles. Not only will you develop lean, defined back muscles that will show through once the overall fat is lowered, but also you will no doubt enhance your posture. Good posture always drops a few visual pounds. Key word there was “visual.”

By the way, you can save yourself that lonely country drive Alexandra mentions if you simply give the back fat you found back to the ole’ lady. We’ll back you up that you are too young for old lady fat.

Readers: What is your secret source of fat frustration?  Where is the first place you find fat and the last place you lose it?

2

The Skinny on Skinny Jeans

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit:

Can you give me some do-it-yourself legersizes to make my legs stronger and skinny-jeans fit?

Carolien, Arnhem, Netherlands

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.

K: Ms. Carolien–who wonderfully speaks English and 80’s talk (important to understand our blog)–to fit into skinny jeans one must consider three things:
1) amount of body fat
2) impact of strength training on leg muscles and
3) fashion tastefulness.

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?

3

Abs, Aging, and the Fountain of Youth

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: K and A:

Hi, I am a 54 year old woman who had been exercising most of my life. I enjoy exercising & eating correctly and I have been fit most of my life until recently. There is this thing called age that is catching up with me. No matter how much I exercise and eat right, I seem to have put on a couple pounds and my mid-section is getting larger (even with doing 200 sit-ups a day). I know it doesn’t help me any that I have fulltime “sit at a desk” job. Can you please tell me what I am supposed to do to help stop this process because I do not want to go up in my clothing size?

Thank you,

Doreen, Santa Barbara CA

K: Tip number one: Do not let age catch up with you. Run faster. Oh wait, with age the knees start to go so running might not be too comfy. And F and F LOVE comfy fitness. And dark chocolate. Tip number two: Retire super early from your full time desk job and do something that requires loads of outdoor activity. We do have our fitness priorities after all!  Then I woke up….

A: You may not like this, but you might have to run faster just to stay in place. TAKE YOUR FINGERS OUT OF YOUR EARS. I KNOW YOU CAN HEAR ME! At 54, the rate at which you burn calories has slowed down, especially if you sit on your Bartleby the Buttolomus (lost Latin term meaning “butt”) most of the day. So, you are not burning the kcals quite as quickly — fat goes up, muscle mass goes down — the roller coaster of your BMR and metabolism goes zooming along. Good news,  you don’t have to be the high bidder for a leftover “Gone With the Wind” corset. You do have to lift those weights a bit more. If you are currently doing strength training, you need to either do it more often or with heavier weights. Increase the cardio — either go longer or harder. And eat less! Shazaam 1, 2, 3.

K: Good news: cut back on the 200 sit ups. Remember, you cannot spot reduce. All the ab crunches in the world are not going to nuke any mid-section fat. You do need to expend calories to prevent fat and weight gain, so Alexandra is right to recommend the combo of cardio and weight training. Oooh, admitting her rightliness did not hurt as much as I thought. Or as much as 200 ab crunches per day with minimal results.

The short version of our advice is boiled down to three plain potatoes: eat fewer calories, or burn more through increased activity, or do both. Full disclaimer: Fun and Fit fully believe that movement is the Fountain of Youth, yet we must acknowledge that the Fountain is fed by “spring-in-the step pure exercise well waters” that require more pumping (iron) as we age.

The super short version of our advice is to say, “the heck with it. I needed a new wardrobe anyway.”  But probably better to pump the Fountain Well.

A: The final words from me: Forget about Mr. (Eating) Right. Go with Mr. (Eating) Less. But marry Mr. (Exercising) Good Enough.

Readers: Were you aware that weight training is part of a good weight-loss program? Have you ever visited the Fountain of Youth?

1

Get Inspired! Project interviews Fun and Fit

Get Inspired! Project 20 minute audio interview with Fun and Fit, Kymberly and Alexandra

Fun and Fit were lucky enough to be selected as one of the 365 inspirational interviewees for the Get Inspired! Project. Toni Reece and Rob Britt created the Get Inspired! Project, which interviews one person per day (or two, in this case) for one year. Their goal is to motivate and encourage people worldwide through sharing the stories and sources they find inspirational.

Listen to the audio version; read the transcript; be moved to get active and enjoy exercise. And be sure to check out the Get Inspired! Project main site. Lots to hear, listen to, and get inspired by!

Toni Reece: Thank you so much, Kymberly and Alexandra, for joining us today on the Project.  Our listeners and readers are in for a treat today.  But before we begin, can you guys please introduce yourselves?

Kymberly Williams Evans: Yes, hi.  My name is Kymberly; my full name is Kymberly Williams Evans.

Alexandra Williams: I’m Alexandra Williams.

Kymberly: We are twin sisters.  We’re identical twins who teach fitness and write about fitness and we are also moms, and many other things.

Toni: Well thank you both for being here today.  Now, before we begin, can you guys … we’re going to, for those that are listening and reading, we’re going to be trying … Kymberly will say that she’s speaking, and then Alexandra will say that she’s speaking, so hang on, guys, here we go.  So when you think about that word inspiration, who do you believe you inspire and how does that happen?

Alexandra: This is Alexandra.  Well, I would like to think that I inspire people who might have a bit of intimidation or concern about exercise and fitness and general well being and good health, and I would like to say that I try to inspire them to find it to be accessible and enjoyable and approachable, and also something that’s achievable for everybody, not somebody who’s already fit.

I once knew somebody who used to carry a card in his pocket to a club, but he didn’t go because he said he was waiting until he got fit.  So we want to be the people that help … I like inspiring people, so that it doesn’t matter if you’re doing a little bit or a lot, as long as you’re doing something more.

Toni: Okay.  Kymberly, who do you think you inspire and how?

Kymberly: Well concerning fitness and the world at large, I’d like to think … it’s very similar to what Alexandra said.  In our classes, we inspire those who are already active because they’re in the club already, they’re taking classes.  I also think that I inspire people to be active or to move or to engage in a healthy lifestyle, just because I am a regular person.  Not extremely fit, not teeny-tiny.  A regular person doing regular activity, but with lots of energy and lots of love for movement.

I’d like to think that I also inspired my daughter to be active throughout her life, so that’s been important is to live in a way that’s a role model so that she is someone who enjoys movement, enjoys being active, enjoys her body for what it does, not just for how it looks.

Toni: Okay.  When you guys think about how you work, and you set this example for others and you try to make it approachable for others that need and want to be fit, how do you think that helps people to explore their potential then?

Alexandra: This is Alexandra.  What I do to help people explore their potential is, on a serious note, I tell them they can wear whatever they want, as long as it’s comfortable, they won’t be embarrassed, and they can move effectively in it.  So I don’t care if they come in the right shoes or the right outfits or full of makeup or that kind of thing.  I just tell them “What did you do yesterday?”  Like a lot of times people will come to me and they’ll say “Oh, I’m not going to be very good at this because I’m new” and I’ll say “Well, 80% of the population doesn’t even work out and you’re already here, so you’re already in the top 20%.”

I would say that I use … that particular comment would probably come from my counseling experience where you reframe it in looking at the positive instead of the negative.  Because over the past 27 years, I’ve had people come to me all the time and tell me what they cannot do, and I like to reframe it for what they can do.  And I also like to think that to help them explore their potential besides just fitness is it helps them to maybe reframe things in other areas.

Another thing that I do is like if I make a mistake, I just say “Okay, I made a mistake” and move on.  Like if I cue them orally or something like that, or I run out of steam and I can’t do one more pushup or whatever.  I’ll say “Well, I did more than I thought I could” or “I did more than if I didn’t do any” so I try to be an example by that and let people know that it doesn’t matter so much what they can’t do as what they can do.

I’ll give an example and then I’ll let Kymberly.  This is on the humorous side.  For example, people say “I can’t do a pushup.”  I’ll say, “Well, just do a pushdown.  Just lower yourself to the ground, claw yourself back up, and do another pushdown.”  The secret is what I know; they’re training the same muscles.  But they get a laugh out of it because I called it a pushdown and I make a humorous comment about it, but it also makes it okay to not do 100%.  It makes it okay to work toward it.  So I’ll let Kymberly answer now.

Kymberly: Holy smokes, that was long!  I’m going to be shorter.  Okay, what do I do to help explore potential in others?  A couple quick quotes.  Number one, I like to remind people that perfection is highly overrated.  Forget perfection.  It’s overrated.  Just go for better than last time, or more than I did before.

Toni: Okay.  Kymberly, who do you think you inspire and how?

Kymberly: Well concerning fitness and the world at large, I’d like to think … it’s very similar to what Alexandra said.  In our classes, we inspire those who are already active because they’re in the club already, they’re taking classes.  I also think that I inspire people to be active or to move or to engage in a healthy lifestyle, just because I am a regular person.  Not extremely fit, not teeny-tiny.  A regular person doing regular activity, but with lots of energy and lots of love for movement.

I’d like to think that I also inspired my daughter to be active throughout her life, so that’s been important is to live in a way that’s a role model so that she is someone who enjoys movement, enjoys being active, enjoys her body for what it does, not just for how it looks.

Toni: Okay.  When you guys think about how you work, and you set this example for others and you try to make it approachable for others that need and want to be fit, how do you think that helps people to explore their potential then?

Alexandra: This is Alexandra.  What I do to help people explore their potential is, on a serious note, I tell them they can wear whatever they want, as long as it’s comfortable, they won’t be embarrassed, and they can move effectively in it.  So I don’t care if they come in the right shoes or the right outfits or full of makeup or that kind of thing.  I just tell them “What did you do yesterday?”  Like a lot of times people will come to me and they’ll say “Oh, I’m not going to be very good at this because I’m new” and I’ll say “Well, 80% of the population doesn’t even work out and you’re already here, so you’re already in the top 20%.”

I would say that I use … that particular comment would probably come from my counseling experience where you reframe it in looking at the positive instead of the negative.  Because over the past 27 years, I’ve had people come to me all the time and tell me what they cannot do, and I like to reframe it for what they can do.  And I also like to think that to help them explore their potential besides just fitness is it helps them to maybe reframe things in other areas.

Another thing that I do is like if I make a mistake, I just say “Okay, I made a mistake” and move on.  Like if I cue them orally or something like that, or I run out of steam and I can’t do one more pushup or whatever.  I’ll say “Well, I did more than I thought I could” or “I did more than if I didn’t do any” so I try to be an example by that and let people know that it doesn’t matter so much what they can’t do as what they can do.

I’ll give an example and then I’ll let Kymberly.  This is on the humorous side.  For example, people say “I can’t do a pushup.”  I’ll say, “Well, just do a pushdown.  Just lower yourself to the ground, claw yourself back up, and do another pushdown.”  The secret is what I know; they’re training the same muscles.  But they get a laugh out of it because I called it a pushdown and I make a humorous comment about it, but it also makes it okay to not do 100%.  It makes it okay to work toward it.  So I’ll let Kymberly answer now.

Kymberly: Holy smokes, that was long!  I’m going to be shorter.  Okay, what do I do to help explore potential in others?  A couple quick quotes.  Number one, I like to remind people that perfection is highly overrated.  Forget perfection.  It’s overrated.  Just go for better than last time, or more than I did before.

Toni: Okay.  Kymberly, who do you think you inspire and how?

Kymberly: Well concerning fitness and the world at large, I’d like to think … it’s very similar to what Alexandra said.  In our classes, we inspire those who are already active because they’re in the club already, they’re taking classes.  I also think that I inspire people to be active or to move or to engage in a healthy lifestyle, just because I am a regular person.  Not extremely fit, not teeny-tiny.  A regular person doing regular activity, but with lots of energy and lots of love for movement.

I’d like to think that I also inspired my daughter to be active throughout her life, so that’s been important is to live in a way that’s a role model so that she is someone who enjoys movement, enjoys being active, enjoys her body for what it does, not just for how it looks.

Toni: Okay.  When you guys think about how you work, and you set this example for others and you try to make it approachable for others that need and want to be fit, how do you think that helps people to explore their potential then?

Alexandra: This is Alexandra.  What I do to help people explore their potential is, on a serious note, I tell them they can wear whatever they want, as long as it’s comfortable, they won’t be embarrassed, and they can move effectively in it.  So I don’t care if they come in the right shoes or the right outfits or full of makeup or that kind of thing.  I just tell them “What did you do yesterday?”  Like a lot of times people will come to me and they’ll say “Oh, I’m not going to be very good at this because I’m new” and I’ll say “Well, 80% of the population doesn’t even work out and you’re already here, so you’re already in the top 20%.”

I would say that I use … that particular comment would probably come from my counseling experience where you reframe it in looking at the positive instead of the negative.  Because over the past 27 years, I’ve had people come to me all the time and tell me what they cannot do, and I like to reframe it for what they can do.  And I also like to think that to help them explore their potential besides just fitness is it helps them to maybe reframe things in other areas.

Another thing that I do is like if I make a mistake, I just say “Okay, I made a mistake” and move on.  Like if I cue them orally or something like that, or I run out of steam and I can’t do one more pushup or whatever.  I’ll say “Well, I did more than I thought I could” or “I did more than if I didn’t do any” so I try to be an example by that and let people know that it doesn’t matter so much what they can’t do as what they can do.

I’ll give an example and then I’ll let Kymberly.  This is on the humorous side.  For example, people say “I can’t do a pushup.”  I’ll say, “Well, just do a pushdown.  Just lower yourself to the ground, claw yourself back up, and do another pushdown.”  The secret is what I know; they’re training the same muscles.  But they get a laugh out of it because I called it a pushdown and I make a humorous comment about it, but it also makes it okay to not do 100%.  It makes it okay to work toward it.  So I’ll let Kymberly answer now.

Kymberly: Holy smokes, that was long!  I’m going to be shorter.  Okay, what do I do to help explore potential in others?  A couple quick quotes.  Number one, I like to remind people that perfection is highly overrated.  Forget perfection.  It’s overrated.  Just go for better than last time, or more than I did before.

Number two is, as Alexandra said, we try to use humor a lot because I think that’s a real bond between people, and it does break down barriers.  And so really our teaching style, our writing style, just our own regular personalities is pretty in your face, and usually we will use humor in our teaching style to try to connect people and ourselves to the people that we’re working with.

And then thirdly is when I’m teaching, I make mistakes and I’ll tell them.  “Hey, here’s the deal, it’s a coupon special, double offer, two for one – it’s actually ten for one.”  If I make one mistake when I’m cuing and I cue them the wrong way when I’m teaching, I say “Okay, you get 10 freebies.  No expiration date.  You can head over to the right when everybody else is going left.  You can trip up over your feet.  I don’t care; I just made one, you get 10 freebies.”  So I guess that helps them explore their potential.

Alexandra: Also, I’m interjecting … this is Alexandra.  First of all, perfection is overrated, but my parents did a really good job with me, especially.  The other thing is, what Kymberly didn’t tell you is that she also tells people that if she makes a mistake, again picking on pushups, she tells the people they can  have 10 free pushups for themselves, because there’s a money back guarantee.  If you don’t like my style, you don’t like my jokes,  you can  have all your pushups back, so she gives a refund.  Kymberly, sorry.  You can finish now.

Kymberly: I think I’m done with that question. Unless Toni, you want to ask more on that.

Toni: Well no.  What I’m hearing – this is Toni – and what I’m hearing from you guys and I wrote down certain words, which is what I do.  When I’m doing these interviews, there’s words that come to my mind, and I’m listening to you both, and I wrote the words “humanized fitness.”

Kymberly: Yes!

Toni: That’s what I’m hearing from both of you …

Alexandra: Well I have to … sorry, go ahead.

Toni: That is an oxymoron though, isn’t it, because you are dealing with humans, but you really are humanizing the experience for someone.

Alexandra: This is Alexandra.  You’re right, but it isn’t an oxymoron because I would say, really it’s as high as 80% of the population thinks that fitness is for somebody else, and punishing, tortuous exercise is what they should have to do in order to achieve this fitness thing.  I don’t think it’s an oxymoron.

Kymberly: That’s a great way to put it.  I hadn’t thought of it with one word except that two other words we might use are “just fun” – we hope people see movement or activity as fun, even if it’s not formal fitness – and the other is accessible, as Alexandra said earlier.  Just accessible.  Just walk out your front door and walk a little bit.

Toni: Right.

Alexandra: This is Alexandra.  I tell people that we’re going to bring out their inner hotness.

Toni: Fantastic!  So guys, what inspires you?

Kymberly: This is Kymberly, I’ll answer first.  What inspires me and what I need to be inspired?

Toni: You bet.

Kymberly: People, number one.  Number two, my sister, because for writing, without her I wouldn’t get inspired because she’s so off the wall that that’s what kind of gets me going, and a microphone usually inspires me, and a stage usually inspires me.  So those are good elements to get me rolling.  Also, on the benefits of fitness side, so that’s what’s inspired me, I should say, to teach fitness and to write about fitness.

As far as what I need to be inspired overall, I love moving, and I think in terms of the concept of keeping your world large, versus the world shrinking.  Normally with age and inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle, the world starts shrinking.  Things that you could at 40 you can’t do at 50.  By the time you’re 60, 70, well, “I can’t do this activity I once loved, and I can’t go to this place that I once was able to get to.  I can’t travel there because of these barriers.”  That is a world that is shrinking, and what inspires me to keep fit and to keep moving, in addition to being able to be with people with that activity, is trying to keep my world large.

Alexandra: This is Alexandra.  You lost me at hello.

Kymberly: I tried, but you’re still here following me!

Alexandra: This is Alexandra again.  I guess what I need to be inspired is a good night’s sleep, a good breakfast, and my preferred makeup regimen – sunglasses and lipstick.

Toni: And are they very large sunglasses?

Alexandra: Yes; they cover my entire body.

Kymberly: This is Kymberly.  I suggested to Alexandra that she include a low-brimmed wide hat with that fitness, excuse me, with that makeup regimen.  I don’t think she was going for that.

Alexandra: This is Alexandra.  In addition to that, what I need to be inspired, in all truth, people.  Social interaction.  If I were alone for a long time, I would start to talk to myself, beep, beep, beep, more than I do …

Kymberly: Quit calling me then!

Alexandra: I might start answering myself.  It’s other people.  When I see … like I have a lot of Twitter friends, and I see how hard people are working.  In a sense I think, well, I have it easy, although I don’t.  I worked hard to get where I am.  But I’m the same size, clothing wise, that I was in high school, and it inspires me to think you know what, I work hard.  And the people that I see around me who are trying to achieve whatever is the right size or weight for them, are working 10 times harder, which gives me a lot of respect for them, because I feel like I work pretty hard, and so to imagine the multiplication – I’m missing the word I mean – but the amount that they must be putting into it always gives me a lot of respect for the people with whom I deal.

I never … I probably prefer the unfit in my class to the super fit.  Not that I don’t like the super fit, but I always volunteer to teach the new classes because I like working with newer exercisers, because I feel that they’re going to be more successful and happier, and also they need me more, and I like to be needed.  My teenagers don’t need me anymore unless I have a wallet and car keys.

Toni: So to both of you ladies, how are you continuing to explore your own potential so that you can keep this attitude towards fitness and life and helping other people alive?  What are you doing to keep stoking that potential in yourselves?

Alexandra: This is Alexandra.  I need one of those AAA Triptic maps.  Other than that …

Kymberly: Okay, you’re lost with her on the explore site?

Alexandra: My map.  My road map to exploring my own potential.  I couldn’t find my own potential without a road map.  Can you translate my joke for me?

Toni: So when you find your potential, what happens with it?  What do you do with it?

Kymberly: We’ll be rich!  Wait, this is Kymberly.  No, Alexandra, back to you.

Alexandra: Okay.  I need … well now, besides the fact that I have hundreds and hundreds of students every quarter at the University who are forced into the position of having to listen to me, and I inform them on the very first day that they’re going to enjoy that experience, so they don’t have to decide later whether that’s true or not; they just know in advance.

The other thing I need to explore my own potential is a forum for expression.  So Kymberly came home with this idea to write our fitness blog together.  I realized you know what, just that little spark or that little kick in the keister – I’d like to speak metaphorically, but you should see her aim – I need to feed off other people’s good ideas, but also what I need to explore my own potential is to try new things and like I said, to find a way to express myself, particularly like in writing and in humor, because I’ve done a lot of standup type of stuff, but now to be able to write it, and then I see it.  I see it written, and it kind of spurs me on even more, and then I’m thinking about the reader, from the reader’s perspective to make sure that they’re not just laughing, but they’re also getting some knowledge.

So that’s what I need is kind of like that interaction.  I say this so that people will be encouraged to put lots of comments on our comments page, because we always write back.  Kymberly?

Kymberly: Toni, would you mind asking me that question again, but in different words?

Toni: When you are doing what you do, are there ways that you explore other ways  of doing it, other ways to learn from things yourself, development for yourself so that you can continue to explore your own potential so that you can keep getting stronger and stronger in what you’re doing?

Kymberly: Okay, okay.  Thank you, Toni.  This is Kymberly.  Then that’s two answers – there’s an internal answer and an external answer.  How are we doing on time?

Toni: We’re okay.

Kymberly: Okay.  For the external answer, I’m an education junkie, so I just would, in the sense of how you’re asking exploring potential or developing or constantly pushing boundaries, I would say always looking for a high learning curve and just somebody who always looks for something new with a learning curve.  So if there’s … once I get something to status quo or once I get bored with it but then I’m ready to either move to something else or to work on that original thing in a different way.

For example, when I was at the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a faculty and fitness advisor in the Department of Exercise and Sports Studies, when I took the program over, it was time to add a new track to the program.  We were training fitness instructors, but we weren’t yet training personal trainers.  And so the couple years that we put into place to create curriculum and train personal  trainers, that was a very exciting time for me because I had to learn a whole new area so that I could turn around and then teach it.

Once that program was up and running comfortably and we had reached all our goals, then it was something that was better done by somebody else.  That wasn’t as interesting for me because okay, I’ve done what I need to do, and now it’s just managing it.  So when there’s a new learning curve, for example, this fitness blog, Fun and Fit, that Alexandra and I now do, that is kind of pushing a little bit too, saying “All right, well we’ve never written together.  We’ve written separately.  We’ve never written humorously together.  So let’s be ourselves a little bit more in this rather than answering straight.  Let’s answer straight plus twisted and quirky.”

Alexandra: This is Alexandra.  I wonder by implication if she’s saying she’s going to get bored with this pretty soon.

Kymberly: Well, the questions are new each week.  This is Kymberly.

Alexandra: Maybe you’ll have to get a new twin when you get bored.

Kymberly: I already tried cashing you in.  This is Kymberly again.  On the internal side of that, I guess this comes more with age, because Alexandra and I are now 51.

Alexandra: No – this is Alexandra – Kymberly is 51.  When we hit 50, I gave her the rest of my birthdays.

Toni: Okay, okay.

Alexandra: I’m 50 with experience.  You check with us in a year, I’ll be 50 with more experience.  She’ll unfortunately be a lot older.

Kymberly: Yes, that is true.  I’ll just divert for a second – this is Kymberly – because I did come up with the twin birthday plan, and I want to share it with any of your listeners who are twins and want to get in on this plan because it’s really helpful.  It’s kind of redundant each year for the twins to both have a birthday and both turn a year older, so we thought we could just alternate.  So really, we’re both 25.

Toni: Fantastic idea!

Kymberly: So on her year, she gets to pick the cake and the dinner type, and get the present, and then next year when I turn 26, I’ll be up, and then she’ll turn 26.  It’s just a little redundant otherwise.

Alexandra: This is Alexandra, and I forgot to inform Kymberly, but on my year, I stopped picking the cake and now I just pick the age.

Toni: There you go.  Well, ladies, unfortunately we are running out of time, but I want to make sure that I capture and put back out there what you guys are doing and how you’ve come at not only who you inspire, but also what you need to be inspired.  And who you inspire are the people that you are with every day, and you are in their presence every day with humor and grace and comfort, and that is so important, and that will help a lot of people with their potential if they feel comfortable.  And then, what you guys both need to be inspired as far as the strength and to be able to have that learning curve as you spoke of, but also keep finding new things to poke at, you know, for yourselves, but for others.  I think that’s what I’ve heard.  Am I pretty close?

Alexandra: Yes.

Kymberly: Yes, and people.

Alexandra: And also further education, like workshops.

Toni: Absolutely.

Kymberly: But we need people.

Toni: Absolutely.  At the core of all of this are the people that you’re working for.

Alexandra: Yes.  We eat them for snacks.

Toni: Absolutely … well, ladies, it has been a pleasure and thank you so very much  for being part of the Get Inspired! Project, and we will post a link to your blog so that people can comment or ask your questions.

Alexandra: Thank you.

Toni: So for your time today and for being part of this, we cannot thank you enough.

Kymberly: Thank you, Toni.

Toni: Take care.

7

Bad Ankle Bridezilla

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: K and A:

Hi, I’m 22 years old and sprained my ankle very badly a little over a month ago. For the last month I have been very good about not walking too much, but now I’m losing patience and need to figure out a way to get moving again. Furthermore, my wedding is in another month, and I need to get into bridezilla shape. I am encouraged to walk at the moment “just until it almost hurts” as the doc put it, but I’d like to know if there’s a way to strengthen the ankle and build myself up to doing more while lowering the risk of re-injury. I’m already doing your girly pushups! Thanks!

Julianna, Budapest, Hungary

.

K: If you are wanting to reach true Bridezilla status, you are already on the right path. Stay inactive, increase your frustration, lose more patience, and take out your stress, pain, and weight gain on those around you. Instead of saying “bum ankle,” pare down to just “bum” and mean your fiancé.

A: A true Bridezilla would claim that both ankles are sprained, and insist on being carried to all events. So you might just be a “Wanna-Willa-Zilla.”

K: Okay, fine, you can have some serious humorous advice. Given your pending wedding, focus on getting ready for that versus strengthening your ankle. Even with a sprain you have many workout options. Commit to a full strength training program: upper body, abs, lower body. Choose non- or low-weight bearing lower body exercises. For cardio, get into a pool or onto a bike. Then ride like the wind, Bridezilla! Cue up the Wicked Witch music from Wizard of Oz. You could also get onto low-impact cardio equipment such as a stationary bike, elliptical machine or rower. Avoid the treadmill or stairclimber for now.

A: Shouldn’t we tell her to avoid people for now too? I mean, it’s just a month until the wedding. Who wants to be around that? Any exercise suggestions we make are not medical advice, by the way. Make sure your doc or physical therapist approves of our winning ways before attempting bungee jumps or anything that “almost hurts.” With that in mind, I have lots of students who surf and skateboard, and I put them on wobble boardsdiscs, and the BOSU® to strengthen their ankles. Here is a link that describes some excellent exercises: bit.ly/9L28uP. You are required to print it out, decorate it with doilies and have all your wedding guests perform these exercises while your band plays, “Red Right Ankle” by the Decemberists. To prevent re-injury, you might want to find out about plantar flexion (bendy indoor plants), dorsi flexion (flipbooks about dolphins), inversion (a DVD you watch at home), and eversion (what I do when it comes to chores) bit.ly/9hEgDz. Why? So you can ask your physical therapist what your feet do and choose the right exercises for the future. You are planning an exciting future full of love, joy, candy, tip-toeing through the tulips, and a complete lack of spousal snoring, right?

K: Lastly, Fun and Fit are sorry you hurt your ankle so close to your big day. What a Bud-a Pest that must be!

A: The doc advised me to work with Kymberly “just until it almost hurts” and look how that turned out! Constant nagging pain. But don’t tell her that I call her that.

Dear Readers (and Bridezillas): What contributed to your pre-wedding stress? Have you had to deal with any Bridezillas? What are “girly” push-ups?

3

30 Days With the Grateful Shred

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: K and A

I am doing a DVD called “30 Day Shred.” The DVD has 3 levels. I’m doing level 1 currently and my muscles still fatigue at this level but cardiovascular-wise my heart rate (HR) is not getting as high. I feel cardio-wise I am ready for next level. Should I stay with this level and add more cardio or try to go to the next level?

Tamie, Lathrop CA

A: First of all, let me explain for any readers who are unfamiliar with this workout, it does NOT refer to chipped beef on toast (and I DO know the slang term for it – Fun and Fit get out a lot). “30 Day Shred” is a work out that combines muscle work with cardio moves. Tamie, if your muscles are fatigued in a good way (you have some soreness, but can still crawl to the DVD player to push “stop”) then you can move up a level, sure. But why would you want to do that? It wouldn’t be fun, so you wouldn’t continue, right? Just like me trying to live with Kymberly (I call those the “Bossed Years”). Because my metabolic set point is stuck on “lethargic,” I am almost too inert to tell you that……zzzzzz….cardio…next level…snork. To get to the next level, push the “up” button on the shred cardio elevator.

K: Answer-wise, you are cardio-wise to wonder. Like me trying to figure out what Alexandra just ad-wised. Can you pretend you are at Lululemon trying on clothes that Mix and Match? Is the DVD workout set up in a way you can view Level 1 for the strength training part and jump to Level 2 for the cardio part? Sounds as though you do have the option to select a higher intensity cardio portion while sticking with the initial level of resistance work. Ideally you want to enjoy both the process and the goal. If you are too wiped out to move up a level with joy and eagerness, you have entered the “30 Day Dread” zone. You are probably not a’gonna last 30 days into Infinity and Beyond! (Toy Story, Level 1).

A: I think I’ll put this whole thing into terms I can understand. You have a new boyfriend.You expect eternal joy to occur in 30 days. You like going for walks on the beach with him, but it’s kind of boring and your heart doesn’t go “Ka-thunka, ka-thunka” like you wish it would. But he has these other fine qualities that make you go skippity-hop through the tulips until you are all tuckered out. You are asking if you should go bounding through the sunflowers and get exceptionalistically (definition found in “Nabokov’s Dictionary”) exhausted or stay with the eye-gazing beach stroll-a-thon. I say, stick with the tulips (my favorite flower), but start running on that beach. If he (let’s just call him Hearty Rat – or HR) really loves your body, HR will catch up and adjust. I shall now sip a beverage of deliciousness while Kymberly translates.

K: Translate??!! Alexandra, we already established that we do not have twin telepathy. (See “Spinning, Walking, Treading Are Big Fat Pains,” June 2010 post ) We don’t even have the same parents or husbands. Stick with Level 1 for metaphors but jump to Level 2 with Hearty Rat HR attack while Tamie mixes, matches, and shreds in batches.

Readers: What do you do when your heart rate says “yes,” but your muscles say “no?” Would you rather work out with Woody or Buzz? And does anyone actually eat chipped beef on toast?

7

Weights or Cardio – Who’s On First?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit:

Q: When I work out at the gym and plan to do both strength and cardio, which is better to start with? Spending time on the treadmill/elliptical/bike before the weights or vice versa?

Thanks K&A, love your blog!

Denise, Los Angeles, CA

A: I will give the “it depends” answer since I am not sure of your specific goals. Based on experience, and being a woman myself (a designation started by my parents), I shall take the wild and crazy guess that you want to mainly be toned and lose extra poundage, yes? If you are training for a body-building competition or simply for mass and strength, then you should do the strength training first. Otherwise, probably the cardio. In any case, if you are training for body-building, I don’t want to give you advice as you might get big and strong and hunt us down if you don’t like our fabulicious advice.

K: Let me tell you a true story from my teaching career. A woman who used to come devotedly to my morning Step class suddenly disappeared. Two months later I saw her in the gym. She had gained 20 pounds. Ok, maybe just 10, but that’s what she gets for skipping my classes. “Oh, Kymberly, I miss your Step class so much. But my personal trainer told me I had to do weights before cardio. Since I drop off the kids at school just before coming to work out, I can longer make it in time to Step as I have to fit in the weight training first.”  The professional in me asked what she was now doing for her cardio training (even though I really wanted to ask “what the @#XXamp;^* was your trainer thinking since you are now heavier?”) “Oh,” she fessed up, ” I don’t do cardio anymore since I am too tired after weight training. I used to do my weight training after your class while my energy levels were still pumped up.” Readers, do you like how I am working in total compliments to my teaching skills? Just another fitness benie (a benefit morsel).  In short, she cut her workouts in half to accommodate some arbitrary order of exercise. The only exercise order is what Fun and Fit tell you.

And daaaaahlink, we tell you: research is 50/50 on this one. Does your body feel better doing one type first? Then that is the better order for you. Does your schedule fit better one way than another? Match activity to you, not you to it. I used underline, bold, and italics on this quote so you would be impressed by its depth of meaning. I will forever quote myself on that one from this point forward. Denise, which goal is more important to you on a given workout day – strength, cardio, catching the finals of World Cup while on the elliptical machine? Do that activity first.  Rack up the activity minutes however you set the order. Didn’t that sentence sound like a cell phone company ad?

A: Some trainers recommend strength training first, because they are thinking about depleting your glycogen stores (glycogen stores are little mom-and-pop shops where you can buy sugar) to augment the amount of fat used for your cardio, but for the average exerciser this is not the case (Fun and Fit are not saying you are average, but your muscles and metabolism might be). Still awake? You can alternate the order of your workout (She loves me, She loves me not), but if your big deal is that you think you are a big deal (overweight), you will be happier doing the cardio first. Besides, after all that treadmill stuff, you can sit down at the machines or benches and rest while you lift 7-pound weights. But keep the big 30-pound weights at your feet so people think you are a bad mama who can actually lift those suckahs without engaging in a medical procedure known as “self-induced hernia.”

K: Hi again. Just got back from weight training first. Why? Cuz my favorite cardio machine was taken and I didn’t want to be hanging at the gym all night. I have better things to do — like ask my parents if Alexandra was always a woman or just wild and crazy.

Readers, especially scheduler types: How do you order your exercise activity? Off the menu, through the window, or special delivery?  Tell us at funandfit.org

For those of you thinking Fun and Fit make up half their advice, you are so right! The other half is supported by experience, knowledge, industry articles  and research such as  bit.ly/wtsorcardiofirst

7

Spinning, Walking, Treading are Big Fat Pains

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Q: Dear Fun and Fit: Kymberly and Alexandra

I am really trying to get into better shape. But all my joints ache. The worst are my knees. I work out on an elliptical trainer for 25 minutes and a spinning machine for 20 minutes and do 10 minutes of stretching to start each workout. I do this M/W/F. The other four days I deal with the pain. I am a 61-year-old male and I am trying to lose 25lbs. It is not fun and I am really hating the pain. What do I do?

Frank, California

K: Swim

A: Swim

K: Hey, I said it first!

A: I thought it first!

K and A: We thought it at the same time. Whoa! Twin telepathy. ……. Ahh haa haaa made you look.

K: Now that you wonder whether we really do have twin telepathy, I can tell you what Alexandra was thinking. Bupkus. But I am thinking that getting into a pool and doing laps really is the best option. If swimming is not a realistic option for whatever reason – no pool handy, hate to get wet, you only wear a bathing suit in the privacy of your bathtub–whatever–then we have to come up with more clever solutions.

A: Solution: Do something else.

Wow, that was a quick and short blog post. But since there is lots of white space left, and Kymberly whimpers if I get the last word, I’ll continue. Have you already ascertained that these machines are the best (meaning “most pain-free”) choice for your knees? How about the water aerobics in the pool? That is way easy on the joints, especially deep-water classes. First of all, the best type of pre-workout stretching is to do the movement you’re about to do. Huh, what? Who’s on first? What I mean is, I don’t know what kind of stretching you are doing, but the wrong kind could start you off on the wrong path (have you ever gotten lost on an elliptical?). Let’s say you decide to take my excellent pool class advice. The best warm-up for that is to get in the pool and move. Not stand still and clutch your foot to the back of your hind end (aka “gluteus attractivus”) for example.

K: Frank, are you sure it’s the cardio machines causing the pain and not the stretching? Without more detail about your stretching regimen it’s hard to tell what to suggest. Do you do any upper thigh strengthening (quads especially)? Put static stretching at the end or your workout. Add in some strength training for your legs twice a week. Make sure the seat of your spinning cycle is set high enough for your leg length. Nag, nag, nag. Lastly, given your goals, commitment and pain level, invest in a personal trainer for at least one month. Get your form, equipment settings, stretching plan all checked by a professional. And I don’t mean us. We’re way too busy holding our feet to our gluteii attractivi (Latin plural for that technical word Alexandra made up above). The non-technical word for this position is the “Frank in Footer” ).

A: You are smart to choose relatively low-impact activities, as they are easier on the knees, yet since you are still in pain, I recommend the New Jersey approach and fuggedaboutit. I can tell by your frankness (ooh, that is a pun you have not heard in 61 years), that you are an outgoing guy, so why don’t you find a local gym with a “seniors” program (a euphemism for “anyone older than myself”) and take a group low-impact class? The variety of movement will decrease the potential for pain and the ever-so-enjoyable atmosphere will make your workout go by quicker. At the very least, you’ll still be in pain on the 4 non-exercise days, but it will be fun while you’re in class. And that’s an improvement. Unless you take my sister’s class – in which case your pain will increase tremendously. Have you heard her jokes? Like an emery board on the ears. By the way, quit calling your wife “the pain.”
Readers: When exercise has been painful, what did you do about it? And do you think twins have telepathy with each other?

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