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5

Exercise, Confidence, and Attractiveness

Does exercise make you feel more confident and attractive? According to research, the answer is Yes.

happy friendsIn 2014, Mayo Clinic released a study that stated, “Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.”

Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Click To Tweet

And the journal Evolution and Human Behavior did an analysis that noted, “this study provides limited empirical evidence that more facially attractive people (N = 100) may be physically healthier than unattractive people.” Makes me wonder if the reverse is true – are healthier people more facially attractive?

In both my education and writing career, I use (and respect) good research, yet I wonder how much culture influences our self-perception of our attractiveness.

Grove of tressI am especially wondering this lately, as I recently went on a walk with one of my best friends. I’ve known her for over 30 years, and she has always been considered attractive. I find her to be still attractive, and have assumed she had the same opinion. She exercises regularly and is very disciplined about her health habits. Yet (after a 6-mile hike together), she mentioned being frustrated about her weight and “unattractiveness.” I put it in quotes because I strongly disagree with her, so refuse to give it legitimacy.

According to research, all her exercise and healthy habits should lead to her feeling pretty dang good about herself. Yet that definitely wasn’t the case. If she were in Russia or Greece (or most any other country), she’d be the cultural ideal (think blond hair, blue eyes and Marilyn Monroe curvy). Yet here in the U.S. we still reward women who are size 0 (how can someone be a null and actually exist) or 4. The average U.S. woman is size 12, so quite clearly reality and cultural expectations are not in sync.

Do you judge yourself by your smiles or by your weight? Why accept outdated cultural norms? Click To Tweet

This makes me sad. Women, whether your age is 35 or 55, do you judge yourself unfairly, with an emphasis on looks? How often do you judge yourself based on your health? I have several friends with lifelong issues (MS, Hashimoto’s), yet every day they work really hard to have good health. To me, they are attractive because their faces reflect their determination, spirit and feistiness.

post-exerciseBe honest, do you judge yourself by your smiles or by your weight? Why do we accept outdated cultural norms? Why do we compare ourselves to our 25-year-old selves? How can we possibly win against unrealistic opponents such as these?

When I was a grad student in systemic counseling, we learned the expression “Fake it till you make it.” It was advice for our clients, based on cognitive-behavioral theory. I think it’s good advice, and I use it on myself.

Here’s how – My “resting” face is more of a frown than a smile. I don’t have the classic nose, cheeks, eyes or chin that our culture says is beautiful. Yet I don’t want to be 75 and wish I’d appreciated my 50-year-old self. When I was 50 I regretted not appreciating my 25-year-old self, and vowed not to do that to myself anymore. So I tell myself NOW that I’m good-looking. I work on my posture, which is an easy way to look more confident. And if you look more confident, you feel more confident. “Fake it till you make it” in action. I pose for lots of photos and I smile in them all. Then I post the best ones online so other people can comment about how much fun I’m having. My brain hears that and the repetition makes it part of my self-concept that I have a fun life. When someone tells me I look great, I say, “I agree (except on genuinely bad photos, such as a recent close-up of my sweaty nose).”

Alexandra in West Berlin 1983

See how adorable I was at 25? Yet, no smile. I thought I was ugly.

Vista Point, Palm Springs

The is me now – the cutest cutie-pie you ever did see. Because I’m smiling.

Focus on good posture. If you look more confident, you'll feel more confident. Click To Tweet

If I tell myself I’m attractive, fun and confident, that’s what I’ll exude. And that’s how I’ll be perceived. So this post is dedicated to my truly beautiful friend, and I hope every woman who reads this thinks I’m talking to her. Dear ________, you are attractive, fun, and confident. It will make me very happy if you would do me the honor of agreeing.

ACTION: Now, get out there and kick some ass. And subscribe while you’re at it. You’ll look, feel, and move better for it.

Alexandra Williams, MA

Photo credit for birthday party: Ross Barrett.

FYI, none of the fabulous women in these photos are the friend I mentioned, though they are all definite hotties too.

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

40

Forget “New” You for the New Year. Be “More” You

Do you make the usual resolutions – lose weight, be kinder, somehow get younger magically, be stronger, become more attractive, make more friends, create world peace? I never do, as resolutions imply that we aren’t good enough, and I like to think I am already good enough. What about you, do you feel the same about them?

rusted-barrel-beach-1We want to start our first blog post of the year with some ooomph, which is actually more like the sound my body makes when I sit down quickly. So while I’m seated, let’s see if I can hold your interest. Better yet, I hope to inspire you to continue to be…. YOU. In all your glory. Why reinvent yourself when the current you has all you need?

Rather than make any resolutions, I have simply picked a word for the year. It’s “consolidate.” What word would you pick and why? We want to know, so please tell us in the comments. I want to consolidate my gains – recognition for my photo skills, making new friends, joining a dance troupe, getting out and about in downtown where I now live. I also want to consolidate my stressors – financial in particular. Of course, if I can increase my photography work, then my money worries will definitely decrease. Don’t get me started on the $1,900 monthly health insurance bill. Sigh….

Tahoe daybreak in winter

Tahoe pier in winter

Why reinvent yourself when the current you has all you need? Continue to be YOU. Click To Tweet

Lately my sis and I have been posting pics of things we enjoy doing, and we get comments about our energy and youthfulness. Which means many people have a mental construct about how Boomer women such as ourselves “should” look and act. Maybe the preconceived Boomer notion comes from memories of our own parents, or perhaps how we view ourselves, but for all of you in our demographic, do you see yourselves as lacking energy and youthfulness?

Maybe for 2016 all of us Boomer ladies need to join hands (preferably to disco music) and pinky swear to take on Carrie Fisher’s reminder that youth and beauty are NOT accomplishments. How we live is an accomplishment.

clouds over the beach

La Boheme Dancers

Performing with La Boheme Dancers. Photo credit: Ross Barrett

So my exhortation, advice, suggestion, hope, admonition, and reminder is this – Go live. Live in a way that prevents you from saying “I wish I had done X or Y in 2016” when 2017 rolls around. If you love the outdoors, get out there. If you want to make friends, go make some. If you want to shed people who hold you down or back, shed them. If you want to sell your possessions and go around the world with your kids, do so. Take a chance, or a leap, or a dare. Or just say yes to a few new things. And no to a few others.

 

two dogs playing

Kila and Sydney; Kymberly’s dogs. Photo credit: Kymberly

Before:after radiocab

La Boheme Dance Troupe

La Boheme at New Year’s Eve. Photo credit: Ross Barrett

My sis said yes to a second dog. She said yes to taking beat-up furniture and making it pretty again. I said yes to being part of a dance group. And even though I was scared of being laughed at by true photo pros, I made note cards from some of my photos and now am selling them. I have even been hired as a photographer for a few ventures. I decided I was more scared of not trying (and of the medical bills). Put your energy where it creates more energy.

Put your energy where it creates more energy. Click To Tweet

sculpture in Santa BarbaraOf course, we know that we get much of our energy and youthfulness (whatever that actually is) from our love of movement and exercise, and we hope you do too (great chance for me to plug my sister’s upcoming Ultimate Abs ebook), but you know best what gives you energy. That’s a benefit of being older; we know what works for and against us.

Miles and Aidan

This one has an official title: Balance and Movement. And yes, I know it’s crooked.

Let 2016 be one of many years where you are yourself, but MORE. Happy New Year. And if you haven’t yet subscribed to our twice-weekly posts, this is a perfect time. Just add your email to the bar on the right.

Except where noted, all photos are by me, Alexandra, and are for sale.

by Alexandra Williams, MA

23

Perfect Body Season is … Never In Season

Trying to lose weight over the holidays before you see any judgy relatives,  grandkids who want to play, or the crotchety old uncle who said you’d never amount to much? Fuggetaboutid! Give yourself the ultimate gift of self-love this season and revel in the ribald revelry of winter with some gusto, acceptance, and balance. Being “thin” was not always in. Being healthy and active (with good posture) is always in style. And hotter than mulled cider!

* See our series on the subject of how to assess, then improve your posture to look more fit. You are welcome!)

Body image & a perfect physique are matters of perspective, culture, history, & whatever… Click To Tweet

Health and beauty are inside jobs! Body image and a “perfect physique” are matters of perspective, culture, history, and whatever the mass media tells us.

Can you say “Mixed Messages?” Don’t believe us? Take a brief tour through past wistful wishes for va-va-voom figures. Look at what people were willing to do to achieve that “look du decade.”

Too Skinny, Men?

Hottie or Nottie?

Don’t make us talk about you years from now! Our gift to you as we wrap up — no, not gifts. We are not that organized! — Work the look you already have. Embrace it; Look it in the eye and say “Ell-bees – you and I are going into the New Year together baby, guilt- and stress-free!

Whoa now you Vixens, Dashers, and Red Nosed sorts! Don’t go overboard — or is that “oversleigh?” We said give yourself some body-lovin’ self-acceptance while staying active, not plunk down your hiney so finey!

Done with Exercise until 2016? Hope not.

ACTION: Subscribe to get us to come to you twice a week with active aging solutions tailored to women over 50. Subscribing is self love! Simply enter your email in one of the boxes AND get your bonus free.

by Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

 

 

12

How Do I Prevent Calf Soreness After Walking Hills?

My Calves Are Stiff

Dear K and A: I know you’ll probably faint, but having exercised for 1.5 hours TWO DAYS IN A ROW, I have a legitimate workout question. Yesterday and today a friend and I did a brisk, very hilly walk for an hour followed by 20 minute Pilates dvd workouts.  Okay, that’s really 1.33 hours, so I exaggerate. It is now very clear to me that I did not stretch enough afterwards. My calves are getting really stiff.  It was 2.5  hours ago that I stopped working out. Is there anything I can do now to help the lactic acid leave my calves?  Help please!  Liz, Goleta, CA

Dear Liz:
Alexandra in high weeds walking

Alexandra loves flat things – terrain, shoes, her chest

Alexandra: Why would I faint? I’m not the one who overdid it! I only go for walks on surfaces that are FLAT. Why would I want to sweat during my nice walk? If you want to get rid of stiffness, have your muscles practice public speaking. Or learn to become a better stretcher! Or ask to be carried down those hills on one! And what do you mean by “really hilly?” Is that a reference to a television reality show in which everyone must fend for themselves in a mountainous region (I define “mountainous” as anything rising above sea level)?

Kymberly: Well, as you probably noticed, we did not get the huge bribe gift for getting to your question via the super express rush deluxe insta-answer service. So let’s answer as if you were going to hike the hills again and wonder what to do next time. Hope you survived in the meantime.

Calf and Shin Action Uphill, Downhill, and on Flat Terrain

Alexandra: Miss Lizzie, when you walk downhill, your shin muscles (let’s call them Aunty Tibby – formal name is anterior tibialis) lengthen and your calves (let’s call them Bessie & Bossy – formal names are gastrocnemius & soleus) shorten. Shorten is nature’s way of saying “contract.” If you had gone for a flat, or even mildly hilly walk, your bleating calves wouldn’t be crying so much for Mama. But you have admitted, under no oath whatsoever, that your walk was “very hilly.” For the record, I too go for really long walks. I call it “going outside and getting lost, then accosting strangers to ask for a ride home.” Your brain said, “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day,” while your calves said, “shorten, lengthen, shorten, lengthen.” See how stiff your calves are in conversation?

Tip for Walking Uphill

Mountain and view at Ranch

Climb Every Mountain

Kymberly: Concerning stretching, Alexandra is onto something. Post walking, stretch your calves and imagination by holding a position whereby your toes are higher than your ankle. aka dorsiflexion. Hold it, hold it, hold it. Now switch legs. To make this successfully simple, Try the three calf stretches we show in our post, Prevent Shin Splints: 3 Calf Stretches.

Next, pay attention to your foot action as you go uphill. Did you bend at the ankle getting your heel to the ground with each stride? Good form going uphill means keeping your body vertical and accounting for the hill angle at the ankle joint by allowing your heel to make contact with the ground with each step. Pick that answer. Or did you basically head uphill on the balls of your feet, bending forward from the hip or spine, and having your heel hanging in space? If so, your calves were in contraction throughout the walk and transforming into steers of steel. No bull. And no wonder they are bellowing. (Check out “Proper Form for Uphill Walking” here).

Tip to Avoid Muscle Soreness Post Workout

And now for the big finish: next time — and there will be a next time doncha know — really break your record and do something cardio for a third day in a row. Yes, walk again within 24 hours even if only for 10 minutes so that you elevate your core temperature and minimize muscle soreness. Fancy names and accurate terms cost extra. But for you — free today. The term is DOMS – Delayed Onset of Muscles Soreness. Or – Darn Old Muscles–Stretch!.  When you suddenly up the ante on muscle use (different from “Aunty Tibby), those muscles are prone to soreness. But if you reheat them before DOMS sets in, you reduce that stiffness. And I am all about reheating unless Alexandra is cooking. Then I get it fresh.

To make this super simple: walk, walk, stretch, drink water, head home, sleep my pretty, sleep, wake, walk again until warm, stretch, call us in the morning. With that gift.

Rancho la Puerta oak grove and chimes

Chime in with what you think DOMS should stand for after a hike or walk.

Alexandra: Kymberly is right; I am fresh. And onto something. Known as my stretched butt. DOMS – Don’t Offer Money to Sis.

Dear Readers: Have you ever experienced muscle soreness? What did you do about it? What do you wish DOMS stood for?

Action: Please share this post on twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. Simply click on the icons in the left column. Thanks!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

10

Ten Ways to Get Healthier in Under 10 Minutes

Ranch cactusDid you know you can get healthier in ten minutes or less? Little habits add up to big changes.

After more than 30 years as fitness and health educators, we know that most habits, good and poor, come in small increments. And these small increments are the path to better health and fitness. With this in mind, we’re adding our 10 cents, based on the successful experiences many of our students and clients have had. Ten tips, and all 10 are under 10 minutes each.

Alexandra’s Top 5 Tips

Brush your teeth before sitting down to watch a TV show. You’ll be less likely to eat those high-calorie, no nutritional benefit snacks.

Write out your grocery list, then stick to it. If marshmallow caramel chocolate double-dipped snack-a-doodles aren’t on your list, they don’t go in the basket. You can’t eat what isn’t in the house.

fitness trackerWear a fitness tracker so you get a realistic sense of the number of calories you’re burning daily. You may be surprised how low the number is.

Whenever you have to wait for someone (a child at school, spouse at an appointment, friend at the movies), walk while you wait instead of sitting. If you have to stay in one place, then stand and move about the room (or fidget). If it’s a 10-minute appointment, go for a 10-minute walk. You’d be amazed at the number of steps you can add to your day just by NOT sitting.

Los Angeles TheatreBuy foods in bulk. If your rice is in a 5-pound bag, then you are lifting a 5-pound weight when you carry it. Do a few bicep curls before you use up all the rice! You don’t need fancy weights to work out. An overhead press with a 5-pound bag of flour works… and leaves you with a nice powdery dusting in your hair.

Kymberly’s Top 5 Tips

1. Get up during tv commercials and either walk or jog in place or grab a broom and sweep the floor. Yup, do a chore; it’s not a bore; you can reap more… when you move during ads.
walk the labyrinth2. Set a timer to remind you to stand up and walk at least 100 steps every 20-30 minutes. Takes just 2 minutes and prevents the physical and mental atrophy that comes with sitting too long at a stretch.

3. Meditate to relieve stress, increase cognitive skills, enhance compassion, reduce blood pressure, and send more blood and oxygen to your brain. Take advantage of free phone apps to build in a 5-8 minute meditation. Longer is great; but even a short meditation session will bring benefits. For suggestions on apps you can download, click to our post Meditation, Menopause, and Memory.

Meditating at Rancho la Puerta

Kymberly Meditating at Rancho la Puerta

4. Repeat Yourself Yourself. When you go to sit down, sit, then stand, then sit. Then when you are ready to get up again (see my second tip), stand, then sit down, then stand and go!  Congrats! You have just completed two squats. If you repeat this down-up-down up-down-up pattern a few times a day, you’ll have easily and quickly worked in a full squat set. Hello easy lower body strengthener!

5. Swap out your computer, office, or tv watching chair for a stability ball. At least you will get some core activation while sitting. Takes fewer than 10 minutes to switch the chair for the ball, but you’ll reap the rewards the entire time you are on the ball. Yes, get on the ball people!

 

Action: Reading and exercising make you smarter, which also leads to brain health, right? So subscribe to our twice-weekly posts. They’ll get you all smartened up. And first crack at our upcoming Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50 program.

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

9

Keep Your Family (and Self) Healthy and Happy

Over the past year, and especially the last few weeks, my family’s happiness (and mine) have been on my mind. A lot. Mainly because there hasn’t been much of it, due to a life-altering medical issue that occurred in the family.
Manhattan Beach PierWithout dwelling on unhappiness and un-health, I’ve now made some changes that were imperative to our health and happiness. You need both to have a quality life (plug here for exercise – do it).

So this post is about some of the things I’ve recently done that make life easier and more enjoyable. And yes, much happier and healthier. See if any of these resonate with you.

orchid from orgainAttend ShiftCon – This social media conference focuses on wellness, health, and the environment. Bloggers, brands and non-governmental organizations come together to share information about living our values through our food, skin care, household products, activism, and how we treat the environment. Keep a particular eye out for Orgain, Thrive Market, and Stonyfield Organics. They are game-changing companies.

Hermosa Beach muralI support organic, non-GMO, labelled products. I want to know what I’m eating and putting on and in my body. Eighteen years ago I had to learn to cook from scratch and read labels due to my son’s allergies and delays, and his health is extremely important to me. Being unaware is an excuse, not an explanation, so I like to stay aware. And I know that my money is my vote.

Hermosa Beach bicyclist

Visit My Hometown – ShiftCon was held in Manhattan Beach, which is next to Hermosa Beach, where I grew up. So I spent some time walking and taking pictures. In some ways the visits back to Hermosa make me sad, and I’m not sure why, yet overall I feel at peace and can focus on the arc of my life. I don’t want to move back there, but I sure do love the emotional attachment, history, and memories.

Move Into Downtown Santa Barbara – For the past ten years, we’ve lived at the top of a mountain, with driving being the only travel option. Taking all the other chores out of the equation (and they are overwhelming on their own), just the chauffeuring was taking up hours and hours of my time, as I was the only driver in the house. Now my younger son and I are living in a place where he can walk or take the bus (he is blind at night, so I’ll be doing some driving, which is way better than constant driving).

Since I’m not driving as much, I’m using the time to pick up more writing and social media jobs. And put more of my photos up for sale. Feel free to hire me. I’m very good. The cat is all settled in (no more barfing or peeing on my bed), and the dog is now here too.

Surfers in Manhattan BeachBlock Out People Who Add Stress – If you get into a situation where you are the caretaker for someone, shed yourself of the idea that you have to answer to anyone except those who are directly impacted. Heck, even if you’re not a caretaker, do this. Opinions are stressful; solutions are helpful. Answer every inappropriate or judgmental question with “May I tell you how you can be helpful?” That usually works.

sandbird at the beachIf I had tried to solve all my big problems over the past year, I would have been stuck because I was too overwhelmed. So I am solving one thing at a time. I cannot help others if I don’t stay healthy and happy. The martyr thing is overmarketed. Now, who wants to come over and help me plant hedges and a garden?

What do you do to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and happy?

by Alexandra Williams, MA

Go ahead and subscribe for our twice-weekly posts right over there ————–> You’ll be first to know when our book comes out too.
If you like pretty pictures and videos of Santa Barbara, follow me on Instagram and Periscope.

6

Posture Assessment from the Side

Women over 50 and those who want to be one day: How is your posture? Have the decades been taking their toll?

A Telltale Sign That You Are A Posture Cheater

Even he likes his posture

Assessing posture from the left and right – simultaneously!

You might be level- headed, but are you level-hipped and level-shouldered? What do the right and left sides of your body tell about your stance if we take a sidewards glance? Are you a “posture cheater” who displays a sneaky telltale clue that gives you away when you fake standing tall?

Part 3 of our Posture series takes a look at posture from “both sides now” to figure out how you stand (Baby boomers – did you recognize that song title? Joni Mitchell was no slouch). We know where you stand–on top! Or lifted nicely once you add our tips on assessment!

 

 

For the record, that is not a peace sign K lays on A at the end of this short video, but bunny ears. Hop to it, sis!

Wonder what you missed in Parts One and Two of our posture series?

Well, pretty much this:

What’s Your True and Natural Posture? Part 1

And some of this:

Want Picture Perfect Posture? Part 2

Action Time: Subscribe to our Fun and Fit YouTube channel. You’ll find our entire posture video series over there.

Photo credit: Creative Commons, kittykaht

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

23

What is Active Aging?

I was asked what active aging means a few days ago. It was a great question, though it took me by surprise, as I had made the erroneous assumption that everyone knew what I meant. Assuming didn’t work out, so I’ll share my definition.

photo shot into a ceiling mirror at Ripley's

I’m actually learning over backward to take this photo into a ceiling mirror at Ripley’s Believe it or Not in Hollywood. You are looking at me from a bird’s eye view. Active Aging includes flexibility.

Active Aging: Making frequent small choices that enable you to move as freely as possible throughout your world.

Say what?! Well, I could have said “Move a lot and exercise,” but it’s not really that. Besides, that sounds like one or two choices per day. The truth is that it is NOT so much the choice to go to an exercise class or do an activity that works up a sweat. It is the repeated small choices we make every day.

Pool at KOA in Santa PaulaI’ll give you an example that illustrates the “Use it or Lose it” principle. I was at an event this past weekend where we had access to a pool, which was at the bottom of a hill. After swimming, we had lunch at the top of the hill. It was very hot, so the 3-minute walk up and down the hill wasn’t fun. A ride was provided for those who didn’t want to walk. Nearly everyone took the ride, saying they didn’t like to walk uphill. That was a choice. Yet if we play this out, look what happens:

  • Chooses to ride due to dislike of walking once
  • Chooses to ride due to dislike of walking many more times that day
  • Walks 4,000 steps total in a day rather than the 7,000 that walking would have led to
  • Has to one day walk up a hill because no ride is available – discovers that it’s very difficult, and that the heart is pounding so much it’s scary
  • Vows to never walk up a hill again
  • Loses ability to walk up steep hills
  • Eventually loses ability to walk up short, not-so-steep hills
  • Opts out of activities that require much walking
  • Chooses only activities that are seated or can easily be accessed by car
  • World is now much smaller, as many activities are no longer considered
Tamrac Anvil Camera Bag

This is my new Anvil Camera Bag, which Tamrac sent me. Click on the photo to check out their full line of camera bags.

Many older people we know (and a few younger ones too, sadly) are no longer able to walk at all, due entirely to the many small choices they made over the years to NOT move. They didn’t use their legs, so they lost the ability to use their legs. They aged inactively.

What do you think might have happened if they had chosen the stairs instead of the elevator? Those were repeated, small choices. What if they had gone for a 10-minute walk around the block while waiting for their loved one to come out from an appointment or school?  What if they had gone in the pool with their kids instead of sitting on the chaise longue? Or stood up to change the TV channel instead of using the remote control? All small choices that lead to active aging.

Ziplining at KOA Santa Paula

About to go ziplining. Active Aging includes this, plus the ability to climb a tower ladder.

You don’t need to get sweaty and exhausted. You don’t need to climb a steep hill … today. You just need to make small, incremental choices every single day that lead you toward doing the things you want to do five, ten and twenty years from now. What you don’t use, you’ll lose. Once you’re in the habit of walking, you’ll find that sitting for long periods of time is actually physically uncomfortable. And you want that. You want to be more comfortable moving than not moving.

This is my plea to you – Make small choices
And this is my wish for you – Live a long, active, healthy, enjoyable life that ends abruptly, not slowly

by Alexandra Williams, MA

What are some of the small choices you make every day that lead you toward or away from activity? What do you want to be doing when you’re 65, 75, 85, 95?

Make one small choice right now and subscribe to our fantabulous posts by entering your email right over there to the right.———> They will magically arrive in your inbox two times per week. Also, subscribe to me, AlexandraFunFit on Periscope, and watch my amazing travel and fitness scopes (videos).

10

How to Fit in Exercise When You Don’t Have Time to Exercise

Over the years we’ve heard from many women about the difficulty they have finding time to exercise. Usually we get questions sent to our site asking a variation of “I know I need to exercise, but I don’t have time. What do you suggest?”

Surfers at Sunset in Santa BarbaraIn some ways the answer seems simple; we just should tell these women to make time, right? Of course, you and I both know the answer isn’t that simple, partly because the question isn’t that simple.

alleyway in black and white in Santa BarbaraWhat do I mean by that? In truth, the question isn’t necessarily a plea for solutions (though we have many solutions; some are listed below and some are linked to in this post and through the pictures). Before giving some answers about substituting A (Inactivity) for B (Activity) in ways that don’t add time demands to your day, let’s take a look at some of the actual meanings behind the question:

Tree roots from Moreton Bay FigI know I need to exercise, but I don’t want to, so I’ve made my day super busy so I can feel less guilty about not exercising.

I’m hoping you’ll tell me I’m okay, and that I don’t need to exercise.

Other people think I should exercise, but I don’t really agree, so I’m kicking this can down the road.

I actually hate to exercise, so please say you have an easy, “magic pill” solution that doesn’t involve sweating, exertion or a change of clothes.

close-up of mushroomAnd certainly, some want our expert input so they can make healthy changes to their routine.

red tiled bench in Santa BarbaraHere’s how you can discern whether you’re truly invested in finding a solution – after reading our suggestions, see if you’ve implemented any of them over the next two weeks. If so, you truly wish to make some changes. If not, you may be more comfortable choosing guilt, procrastination or plain old avoidance. As a person who is the full-time caretaker for two people, I can definitely say that there are times when it’s truly impossible to get in some “me” exercise time. And… as a person who’s a full-time caretaker for two people, I can also say that being too busy for exercise every single day for weeks, months or years is a choice.

Boat masts in Santa Barbara HarborWith that in mind, the following tips will be helpful to any of you who are ready to fit in exercise:

  • Every time you go to sit down, lower your butt just until it touches the chair, stand back up, then sit down. You’d be surprised at how many squats that adds up to
  • When waiting for someone at an appointment (I chauffeur two people around town nearly every day), go for a walk instead of sitting in the lobby. If you need to be present at the appointment, stand up and pace or do step-touches in the waiting room. No reason to sit still while you wait.
  • Arrange your kitchen so that you have to squat down low and reach up high to get everyday items.
  • When you are making phone calls (I make about 3,962 a day; all of them involving some sort of Hold Hell), pace around the room or do some strength training while you’re on hold (just remember to put the speakerphone on). Instead of sitting on hold, you can work out on hold.
  • Do you eat lunch? At your desk? In a chair? Watching TV? In a box with a fox? Why do you do that? Take your lunch with you and go for a walk. And if the weather’s crappy, walk indoors – the office, your dusty treadmill or even the local mega-mall.
  • No time to lie down on a mat and do some abs work? No problem. You can do standing core work. If you walk on the beach, and stand on one leg while taking off a shoe to dump sand out of it, you are doing standing core and balance work. Even without sand, you probably wear shoes every day, right? Try putting them on and taking them off while standing, without holding on to the table or counter.

tiled bench in Santa Barbara County CourthouseRecently I’ve posted quite a few pictures and scopes (videos on an app called Periscope – please follow me at @AlexandraFunFit), and gotten lots of comments about how I must be on a permanent vacation because I’m always out and about, walking around. No. I’m just finding a solution that works for me while I wait around for the people I drive. Walking and taking pictures and doing my scopes keeps me fit, not just physically, but also mentally. My stress level is under control for two reasons: 1 – I am outdoors walking, which means I am exercising AND getting the benefits of nature; and 2 – I made a conscious choice to do something that takes my mind off the many hours I am required to drive and wait and drive and wait and drive and wait. That choice gives me a feeling of control.

Santa Barbara MissionWhat tips would you add to the short list above?Ent in tree

P.S. Do you see the Ent holding up the tree and raising his arms and face to the sky in this picture? Look again.

by Alexandra Williams, MA (don’t forget to follow me on Periscope for my travel and fitness videos)

16

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.

A walk outside is a mood improver. Click To Tweet

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 

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