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12

Emotional Benefits of Walking Outdoors

Are you lucky enough to enjoy outdoor walks? Do you live in an area conducive to walking? Do you live where you can see the blue sea? What about the blue sky?

In addition to all the physical benefits of exercise, you can also reap emotional benefits. Read ‘em and Reap. heh heh

Foothills Nature Preserve in Santa BarbaraWhether it’s the feeling of being at one with nature, the smells, the sounds, the feeling of being a small part of a big world, or just escaping from the “grind” for a few minutes, a walk outside is a mood improver. Go dopamines, go. Swim with the endorphins.

Think how calm and peaceful you feel walking in a misty fog, or how centering it is to be out alone at dawn or dusk. Have you ever walked in the rain and inhaled the smell of the earth and water? Have you stormed out of the house in a bad mood, only to return refreshed and recovered after a walk around the block to “cool off?”

Boogie boards at Hendry's beach, Santa BarbaraWhen we were kids (5 kids, to be specific), my mom would make us go outside whenever we’d start to fight with each other. She’d also tell us to take a walk around the block (which only had 3 houses on it) when we were upset or sad. Somehow she intuitively knew the power of a walk outside. Or she just wanted us out of her hair. Or both.

In any case, I’m fortunate because I live in Santa Barbara, where almost every walk has a gorgeous view. So even though I know an indoor treadmill will give me lots of fitness and health benefits, I will never give up my outdoor walks. Because they give me mental health benefits. And a chance to set aside my responsibilities for a while.

Enjoy these pictures taken on some of my adventures. Then get yourself outside and take your own pictures.
Arlington Theatre Lobby in Santa Barbara

Rope swing on big tree

discarded flower on marble bench

curved wall at Orpet Park, Santa Barbara

sun float at Solstice Parade

Read my sister’s post about 3 Ways to Work Out Naturally. You’ll understand why “nature” is the root of “naturally.” You’ll also find out why I asked about the blue sea and sky.

Alexandra Williams, MA 

7

Great Gait! Seven Steps to Better Walking

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
picture of hike at Rancho la Puerta

Go for a walk

Any time of year is a great time to take a walk, but at this time of year you see hundreds of news reports and blogs touting the benefits of a Thanksgiving Day walk. Have you ever wondered if the WAY you walk is helping or hindering?

Kymberly just gave a fabulous workshop at Rancho la Puerta about gait, and I thought I’d share some of her tips so that you can figure out if your gait is aging you or supporting your continued youthfulness.

Gait workshop at Rancho la Puerta spa by Kymberly Williams-Evans

Kymberly is giving some pro tips about gait

Pace. Comfort. Stride

Walk across the room, turning at the wall and repeating the walk for several rounds. How quickly do you go? How comfortable are you, especially at the knees, lower back and neck? How small or big is your stride? Notice whether or not you have to touch the wall to turn, make a wide circle, or pivot quickly. Pay attention to your balance. Be aware of your stride length, especially if it’s small, which means you don’t trust your balance, though you are actually at MORE risk of falling with a shortened stride.

Arm Swing

Go watch SpongeBob Squarepants and take a look at how he propels himself forward. See those flapping arms? Nothing going on from shoulder to elbow, but lots of movement from elbow to hands. If this is you, we bet your elbows hurt after a long walk. Same thing if you’re a wrist flapper. Ideally, you want a long arm that reaches out in front of you. And… you want the arm in back to be reaching behind just as far. At the top of your arm swing, you should have a triangle formed from both hands and the shoulder. In other words, what goes on behind you is as important as what’s happening in front.

hiking at Rancho la Puerta spa

Use your arms and legs in opposition

Look and Listen

What do you see when you focus? What do you hear? What is powering your forward movement? It’s possible you favor one side, especially if you’ve had any kind of leg injury. If you can get someone to listen as you walk (without looking at you), a limp or compensation just might reveal itself. So often we are asked why the left leg (for example) hurts when it was the right leg that had the injury. The answer is that the left leg is overtired from being overused due to overcompensation. So get over it!

Pulling from Hamstrings vs Pushing from Glutes

Use power muscles to power your stride. Are you using your front or back leg to propel? If you want a shapely booty, push from the glutes. As we mention in our post “Why is My Body in Pain After Running and Walking,” running and walking require different muscle emphasis. Pulling from the hamstrings on the front leg will just make them hurt, and might also cause pain behind the knee. Besides, who doesn’t want a shapelier tush?

picture of Ahnu shoes

Remember to look down every so often when on a walk

Slow Mo’ Walk

Slow your walk way down and observe what happens throughout your body. Does your head bob forward or side to side? Maybe your walk improves. Maybe it falls to pieces. Notice if your arms keep moving or freeze in place. Especially note whether you start to move homolaterally (same arm and leg go forward rather than opposing arm and leg). Do you feel less or more stable?

Head and Chin Check

If your head is forward and down, that’s where you are headed (hahaha. so punny). Your head needs to be above your body, not in front of it. Not only does “text neck” increase your risk of migraines and back strain, it also increases your risk of falling. Ever notice those people who are hunched over with their faces actually looking at the ground? See how their elbows are back behind them for balance? They didn’t get that way overnight. To check if that hunchback will be you, do the chin check. Stand in neutral position (read “Finding Neutral Spine” for a full explanation). Put a finger to your chin. Hold your finger in place. Retract head 2-3 times. Mark any gap. A big gap means you are a forward head thruster. A small gap means you win free neutral spine for life!

Zip Trick

Remember how we mentioned 5 tips ago that what goes on behind you is as important as what’s in front? Almost everyone knows the posture zip trick for the front, but do you finish that zzzzzzip by going down the back? Once again, you’re in luck, as we wrote a post (with video !!!) about the zip trick as part of our posture series.
Time to zip up this post. We hope you feel giddy about your gait as you trot around the block on Turkey Day.

hawk at Rancho la Puerta

Also remember to look up

If you want your very own professional gait assessment, contact us at info@funandfit.org. For $59 U.S. we’ll give you a complete, detailed assessment based on a video you’ll send us. And for free we’ll tell you that good posture makes you look 5 pounds slimmer, more confident, and sexier.

5

It’s National Family Caregivers Month. Are You a Caregiver?

Alexandra Williams, MA

Prepare to Care for caregivers bookletIt’s National Family Caregivers Month. As I’m a caregiver, I jumped at the chance to partner with Midlife Boulevard to bring you this important public service information about it (say that to yourself in a Walter Cronkite voice).

 

If you’re like most people, your mental image of a caregiver is of middle-aged women taking care of elderly parents. For me, only half of that is true. I’m middle-aged (or early Renaissance; medieval if you’re one of my boys). But I’m not caring for my parents; I’m now caring for someone who is only 57 and had a stroke in late September.

Without going into a pity party about what that means, especially when it’s completely unexpected, and therefore not planned for, I’ll just say that dealing with it has been made easier because I’ve accepted help.

It’s against my nature to ask for help. I’ve spent over 30 years in the health and fitness industry, helping others. I got an advanced degree in systemic counseling so I could help others. It’s more comfortable for me to give help than to receive it. Which probably makes me just like everybody else. Yet don’t we all immediately rush to help whenever someone we care about needs it? Heck, most of us rush to help complete strangers, and we don’t care about them. Until we do. Because we share the human trait of compassion.

According to AARP, more than 42 million U.S. caregivers provide an estimated $450 billion worth of unpaid care to relatives and friends. That’s a lot of compassion. Speaking from experience, I know this can be highly stressful. AARP reports that caregivers are also at higher risk for immunosuppression, cardiovascular disease, premature aging, and to top it off, financial problems. I know that after the initial stress and chaos of the stroke, I ended up with bronchitis. The financial problems are real too, even with supplemental disability insurance and full medical coverage.

But knowledge is power, and feeling more powerful and in control helps decrease stress (at least for me). And the extra support AARP offers through its community of experts and other caregivers at aarp.org/caregiving makes some of the chores easier. The detective work involved in figuring everything out was a depressing surprise, and I know that my sister will soon have this same issue with our mom. Trying to sort out paperwork when the only person who has the answers isn’t in a state to do so is crazy-making. Spending hours and hours on the phone and buried in paperwork, knowing that there should have been an easier way is exhausting.

AARP - Juggling Work and Caregiving booklet

That’s why I’m fully on board about the public service ads (PSAs) that AARP and the Ad Council have just launched that illustrate how the changing roles of parents and children can impact your life. I’m not caring for a parent, yet I have found these resources to be helpful, and recommend them to you:

Prepare to Care (Caregiving Planning Guide for Families)
12 Resources Every Caregiver Should Know About
Free eBook: Juggling Work and Caregiving
10 Tips for Caregivers During the Holidays

As November is National Family Caregivers Month, why not help celebrate the more than 42 million people who are providing care? By “celebrate” I mean offer rides, provide respite care, bring a meal, do household chores, ask after both the person being cared for AND the caregiver, and understand when the caregiver is a bit grumpy or distracted or doesn’t send a quick thank-you note. And take advantage of these resources, because with demographics being what they are, you’ll probably be a caregiver one day too.

Special PSA from us: Walk. Move. Dance. Strength Train, Golf. Garden. Bicycle. Swim. Exercise keeps both your body and brain sharp and strong. If you don’t want someone else to have to care for you, then take care of yourself.

26

10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Alexandra Williams, MA

Christmas display in Pacific Grove

Everyone has great ideas for avoiding weight gain during the holidays. Our ideas actually work. How do we know that? Well, I have been in the fitness industry for over 30 years, I know (and write professionally) about healthy eating, and I have a Master’s in systemic counseling. More importantly, we use these tips ourselves.

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

To make it easy to share (and because I want to increase my Pinterest skills), I made a nice easy pin of our 10 tips to avoid holiday weight gain that you can access at the next big get-together.

10 tips to avoid holiday weight gain graphic

Let us know which tips were most helpful to you. And please follow us on Pinterest: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

22

ShiftCon: Make a Shift Toward Better Health

Alexandra Williams, MA
living centerpieces from FarmBox

Living Centerpieces from FarmBox L.A. at ShiftCon designed by Teachable Mommy

What happens if you bring together brands, bloggers and non-profits for a conference billed as  “the first eco-wellness social media conference?” Shift. Shift is what happens. At the inaugural ShiftCon event this past weekend, hundreds of people came together to further the national conversation about the way we eat and live, and how that impacts our health and the environment.

For example, if you knew the EPA classifies bleach as a pesticide, would you still wash your kids’ clothes in it? Would you want them breathing it at school?

What if you knew that the European Union bans over a hundred of the chemicals found in make-up & beauty products due to cancer concerns, yet the U.S. only bans about 10 of them (and the entity regulating the industry is comprised of the same people who make the beauty products)?  The average U.S. woman uses 12 – 15 beauty products a day, so how much of those contaminants are getting into your body through your skin?

Would you eat a frozen yogurt if you knew that powders and chemicals that have been linked to cancer had been added to it, or that the CEO of the yogurt company was intentionally NOT giving you a list of ingredients?

A sampling of some of the sessions will give you a feel for the tenor of the conference:

The Future of Labeling GMOs

Why Are We So Allergic

Is Organic an Elitist Trend

Legal Implications of Blogging and Activism

Pesticides – What You Need to Know

Fat Vs Fit – the Truth About FitSpo (I mention this one because I was invited to be on the panel after a scheduled contributor became sick)

pic of panelists for FitSpo talk at Shiftcon

FitSpo Panel – Lisa Johnson, Andrea Metcalf, me, and Kia Ruiz (Photo by Ana Lydia Monaco)

After I got home from ShiftCon I looked around my house. Sure enough, many of the brands I support with my purchases were at the conference. I’m lucky that the Isla Vista Co-Op near my work carries many of these brands. If you want to be a shifter, ask your local store or co-op to carry them too. Demand creates change.

These are a few brands I love and recommend to you – Organic Valley Co-op, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Stonyfield Organic, Molly’s Suds, Uncle Matt’s, Boiron, NatraCare, Nordic Naturals, and Dr. Bronner’s.

picture of the Naturpedic suite at ShiftCon

Taking a Nap at the Naturpedic Suite.

And a few that will now find their way into my home are Kingdom Organic Cheeses, Healthy Hoo-Hoo, Health-Ade Kombucha, Nutiva, and Naturepedic.

picture of sunrise in L.A. by the airport

Up at Sunrise for the Boiron 5K at ShiftCon in L.A.

I am not much of an activist, at least not in the way most people think, in that I’m not particularly noticeable. The activists who are out in front and noticeable are game-changers. They push. Loudly. And they make things happen that improve all our lives. I’m more of a shifter. Over time I have shifted my thinking, habits and most importantly, money over to companies and non-profits that support healthy food and products. I believe our nation will improve its labeling and choices when more people shift their money and votes. ShiftCon was a conference for both game-changers and shifters like me. Together we can lead from in front and behind.

22

It’s My Boomer Birthday and I’m Becoming Less Visible

Alexandra Williams, MA
birthday art

Happy birthday to my twin sister!

I’m turning 56 in a few days, right on the heels of attending the IDEA World Fitness Convention. I don’t care either way about tacking on another year, yet I have noticed a trend over the past few years. I seem to be becoming less visible. Or maybe just less desirable. Let me explain.

First of all, I’ve been going to the IDEA conventions since they began in the 80s. So I love to attend and see long-time fitness friends from around the world. It’s one of the highlights for me. I also love to check out all the latest workout trends. When I first started teaching (West Berlin, 1983), all we had was high impact aerobics. That was thousands of clever ideas ago, I know.

Alexandra in West Berlin 1983

Relaxing in Berlin, 1983

But this year for the first time, as I walked around the Expo and sat in on sessions (with a press pass you are not allowed to participate, which is fair), I didn’t see a lot of workouts that would accommodate my body (or tastes, in some cases), and I’m actually in pretty good shape. The high impact, loud techno/ rap workouts don’t appeal to me. Neither do the very slow, quiet “older adult” workouts. I’m in the middle – stronger and with more stamina than my 20-year old university students, aware of current music (loving Aloe Blacc’s anthem “I’m the Man”), and willing to try new ideas – so I like high intensity, fun formats that challenge me, yet don’t seem to be an injury-in-waiting.

picture of IDEA World Fitness Convention Expo hall

Expo Hall at IDEA World Fitness Convention

Also, at some of the booths and workouts, participants could win prizes based on doing the MOST – repetitions, weight, time – anything that had me competing with everyone else. And by “everyone else” I mean “people 25 years younger.” I don’t like competitions where I might look foolish or old or weak, as I am none of those. I like competitions where I’m pitted against myself. I want to be the BEST, not the MOST.

picture of push-ups/ knee tucks on suspension cable

The smile is fake. Doing 20 suspended push-up/ knee tucks was hard.

If you want my business, or even want me to stop at your booth, you need to find a way to make me feel like a winner. For example, at one booth, anyone who could do 20 suspension push-up/ knee tucks could win a prize. I didn’t care about the prize, but I wanted to challenge myself. I managed to do the 20 (barely), and left happy. I didn’t care that the 20 year old guy just after me did them in mere seconds without looking remotely tired because I wasn’t pitted against him. Hey, that was me when I was that age.

But I’m not that age anymore, nor do I wish to be. I’d have to give up my boys if I were that young again, and a modicum of wisdom. The point being this – if fitness brands are ignoring someone as confident, assertive and fit as I am, what the heck do they think is going on with women my age who are nervous about exercise? If that were me, I’d be defeated at the start.

If you are a brand, let me help you out – we have more stamina, time, long-term view, patience, and MONEY. Find a way. And for my birthday, please send me Aloe Blacc.

I am unstoppable, not invisible.

Photo credits: birthday art: Prawny; Expo Hall: IDEA

13

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.

1

Lead Where Others Dare Follow: Highlights From the IHRSA Convention

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Kymberly leading a session at Rancho la Puerta

I’m going to lead now…. if that’s ok with you.

Do you strive to be a better leader as you advance in life? Perhaps you prefer working with strong leaders. As a group fitness leader myself, I am always looking to learn more about positive, effective leadership. As a baby boomer woman, I particularly appreciate and focus on successful, high profile females. (Some of them are in my exercise classes, cleverly disguised as “retired.”)

Leadership: High Performance Peaks and Pitfalls

So on my last day attending the IHRSA International Trade Show and Convention, I eagerly toodled off to a session led by club owner and fitness pro,  Trina Gray, entitled Leadership: High Performance Peaks and Pitfalls (IHRSA is the primary trade association serving the health and fitness club industry). Up to then, I had been a little frustrated to see so few females selected by IHRSA for sessions, panels, and roundtables. Finally, here was a woman who was surpassing her own business and financial goals, making life-changing differences in her community, and inspiring people to commit to get fit. A youngish woman. In a mini-skirt. With flouncy hair, and a huggy, metaphysical air. Yes, this could be interesting!

Lead Yourself Or A Community

Stat on deaths from IHRSA 2014

Combating such stats needs good leaders!

Trina was a delight and loaded with personality, energy, and insightful comments on ways to improve our leadership abilities. Even if the only person you want to lead is yourself, you will appreciate some of her tips. Trina has the chops to dish the tips too. (Like those food metaphors?) She founded the Bay Athletic Club in Alpena, Michigan, one of the poorest counties in one of the unhealthiest states in America. Fast food, smoking, illness, and obesity were a way of life in this small town until Trina’s efforts helped make more than half her community healthier.

Snippets, Suggestions, and Strategies

Take a stationary bike ride with me through some of her leadership suggestions and quoteables:

“Look for something every day that can make you a better leader.” I am up for the challenge. Are you? (Bossing my husband around doesn’t count as leadership, darn it anyway).

“Don’t look for people to follow you. Look for people to believe in where you are going.” This quote was one of my favorite!

“Do you show people how amazing they are? Or have you focused on how amazing you are?”

“It takes leadership not just to take feedback but to put that feedback into action.”

“Success is not convenient.” I was a little confused by this quote until Trina gave us the example of fast food. It’s convenient, but does it take us where we want to go?

Seth Godin Keynote Speaker for IHRSA

Leaders are Connectors

More High Performance Tips from Trina

  • Stop asking for so much advice. Do more; ask less.
  • Remove people in life who suck your energy. Protect your energy.
  • Money is flowing all around you. Success and money are unlimited. You don’t need permission to succeed. Being successful does not take from anyone else.

Which of the above suggestions resonates with you most? Have your views on leadership changed with time and age? What have you experienced today that can help you become a better leader? Share in the comments below.

Experience some of the best leaders in the health, wellness, and fitness world every Wednesday morning at 8:00 PT/ 11:00am ET. Listen in (better yet, call in to 866-472-5792) to our new radio show Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers with guests who offer practical advice and cutting edge solutions to your active aging challenges. You’ll find us at voicemaerica.com on the Health and Wellness channel

Voice America banner

Active Aging with Boom Chicka Boomers Radio Show


24

Weight Loss and Self-Love

Alexandra Williams, MA
picture of woman scared of scale

Noooo. I’ll never be Perfect.

Women, why are we so hard on ourselves? Why will we always look good “as soon as…?” And we all the know the joke about how men who are 30 pounds overweight look in the mirror and see a good-looking guy, while women who have 5 extra pounds see themselves as 30 pounds over! Except it’s not really a joke.

Valentine’s Day just passed, and I am glad to see it go. Not for myself, but for those who feel sad. Sometimes it’s from being single; though it can also come from being lonely in a relationship. But I think it’s most sad when it’s a case of feeling unlovable, which is totally different from unloved. In high school I thought I was ugly (I wasn’t – see that pic of me? Nothing to run from), which to me equalled unlovable. My high school experience was so unpleasant that I found a way to graduate a year early. I feel so lucky and grateful to have found confidence in my mid-20s.

Now here we are, many years past high school, and many of us are so self-denigrating about those extra pounds we’ve put on since high school that we don’t even know it. It’s habit. Automatic. “I’d be happy if I just lost 20 pounds.” “I’d love to date, but who’d want me at this weight?” I’ve been paying attention to my habitual thoughts about my weight as I lose the few pounds I gained over the holidays, and mine are definitely tied into looks and self-acceptance.

pic of Kymberly & Alexandra from the 1970s

Kymberly is smiling. Alexandra not so much. Too bad. We obviously had admirers!

Those of us who are moms are so good about showing our kids unconditional love, yet we let them see us denigrate ourselves. Worse, they see us defining ourselves by external, non-achievable goals and measures.

Time to rethink and reframe, dear Boom-Chicka-Boomers. We need to separate health from aesthetics. I’ll use myself as an example. Do my extra 5-10 extra pounds (I picked this number, not the government charts, which means the numbers are flawed from the start) affect my health? Truly, not in the least. I have no trouble going uphill or exercising or doing anything, except for playing soccer, which is due to a reconstructed knee, not an inability to have running stamina. And all my health and medical tests say that I’m secretly in the body of a 29-year-old (insert joke here!!). Which leaves aesthetics. Beauty. Looks. Which is a slippery ideal, as the definition changes from culture to culture, and person to person.

Am I saying we should give up on looking our best? Not at all. I’m totally vain and wouldn’t dream of going in public without at least lipstick! I’m saying:

A. Health is measurable. We can know if we’ve achieved it. Beauty is not measurable. The beholder really does have all the power.
B. We need to love ourselves for the things we accomplish that matter. We need to recognize the limits we place on loving ourselves, ESPECIALLY when those limits are based on ever-shifting criteria.

Picture yourself 20 years ago. Don’t you wish you looked like that now? But back then you were too busy unloving yourself to appreciate what you had. Picture yourself now. Flaw, flaw, flaw, comparison, comparison, disapproval, disappointment. Picture yourself 20 years from now, wishing you looked like you do now. Why wait 20 years to know how great you looked in 2014?

pic of Alexandra at Last Book Store in L.A.

Dear Myself in 2034 – You Sure Looked Great in 2014

Just so you know – when you exercise and eat well for health reasons, you gain confidence. When you gain confidence, you look happier. When you look happy, people are attracted to you. Ka-Ching. Definition of “attractive.” Along the way, the weight will fall off. But I know that when I’m 75 and still teaching group fitness, I’ll feel good about myself. And people will be attracted to me. Good health includes self-love. Health leads to Beauty. Beauty doesn’t necessarily lead to Health.

Watch this video and watch how happy this talented woman is at dancing. How can you not help but love her? And her wild abandon! [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tbcoh5hre74[/youtube]

 

 

While you’re at it, view this video of four “regular” women who got the looks of their dreams. Did it make them happy?

I’ll probably never care for the artificially created Valentine’s holiday. And l’ll still lose those last few pounds. With friends to support me. I am one of those friends.

Photo credits: Woman on Scale: Chelsea3883

Want to love us as much as we love ourselves? Here ya go:

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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