Alexandra Williams, MA
According to research by the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy, “being part of a cohort – a tight-knit, reliable, common-purpose group – is very important in different ways.” Not only were we tight-knit, we were on a mission to squish as many people as possible onto a couch. Sort of like a slumber party, but with a reasonable amount of sleep.
As humans, we strive to create meaning in our lives, which we do by growing, learning and giving. We do these things best when we have connections. Connections with women who both support and challenge me helps me create meaning, especially when I believe those women understand me, or at least have the framework to share a language that leads to understanding.
Okay, that’s all well and good and counselor-ish, but just like exercise, if it’s not fun, we aren’t going to do it. Speaking of which, our exercise classes for BAM were at 7 a.m. which we discovered was a bit out of the majority of the attendees’ comfort time zone. So now we have a conundrum to solve – how to help midlife women realize that you gain energy for a long day by getting up early to work out. In any case, Kymberly’s Abs, Balance, Core class and my Drums Alive workout were really fun for all who were there, as evidenced by these comments from Candace Karu of Cabot Cheese and Rebecca Olkowski.
As I’ve aged, I’ve discovered that I’m an outgoing introvert, or maybe an extrovert who likes a lot of “listening and observing” time. While teaching or presenting (we also gave a talk about media kits for bloggers) I am very animated and sociable, yet found that much of my “people enjoyment” came from listening to others’ stories. Are you more of a talker or a listener? I found it extremely satisfying to hear the stories my friends (which was everyone at the conference) shared – stories of loss, powerlessness, poverty, struggle, heartbreak, exhilaration, achievement and reinvention. These stories enabled me to feel part of the “girl gang” as we all have histories that got us to where we are now.
The “In” Group
Do you ever feel like you are on the outside looking at those on the inside? I do sometimes, especially at my job at the university, where every year I’m a year older and the students are still 20. My heart and plans and thoughts and desires all feel young to me, yet sometimes my body reminds me that I’m in my 50s. Sometimes my two boys make me feel old, simply because they are now grown up. I don’t want to be young again, yet certainly don’t see myself as old either. Being around a hundred women my age automatically put me into the “in” group. We were ALL good-looking and effervescent; fashionable and interesting. No-one was dismissed; there was no “outsiders” group. Doesn’t that sound like Friend Utopia?
Do you have a good balance of new and long-term friends? As I age, I find it important to make new friends as well as relishing my friendships that go as far back as a half-century. After the conference was over, Kymberly and I were taken on a Nashville sightseeing adventure by good friends we made via social media over the past few years – Kathy of Live the Fine Life, and Brenda (a single redhead from Alabama; hint to single guys). When I was young, I just accepted that everyone I met was my friend. As I aged, that changed, yet I still know when someone JUST IS my friend. I like the freedom age gives me to choose my friends based on nothing more than that I like them.
On that note, you get to see some pictures of downtown Nashville, courtesy of my desire to improve my photography skills. I don’t know if the BAM conference will be in Nashville in 2016, but I do know Nashville has lots to offer. I also know that I’ll be at the conference no matter where it’s held, because – Friends.
As Kathy Bates said in Fried Green Tomatoes, “Face it girls, I’m older and have more insurance.” In other words, we have money. And we’ll spend it with brands that acknowledge our existence. The sponsors of the inaugural Bloggers at Midlife conference deserve a shout-out for doing just that.
Support these brands:
1010 Park Place
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Uh oh, but the two biggest trends don’t bode well for midlifers.
We baby boomers are the first generation to grow up with exercise as part of our post high school curriculum. Our parents did not transition from youth to adulthood expecting to work out the rest of their lives. (I’m talking national averages here as I don’t know YOUR parents, of course). With our years of continuous movement comes a toll: aches and pains — yes, I did teach up to 20 high impact classes per week back when I was young and immortal.
In Implementing Anti-Aging Solutions Into Fitness, session leader, Sue Hitzmann asked participants “who suffers from chronic pains that limit your life?” Out of 200 fitness pros, at least 195 of them raised their hands, myself included. And that’s a group that knows how to move with good form and body awareness. Youch and ouch! Apparently this high percentage of injury sufferers is the new norm, especially for the over 50 crowd.
You can believe that the companies at the IDEA trade show know this, as there were a lot of booths devoted to pain relief. Whether via creams, programs, massages, electrical stimulation, rollers, supplements, or mind/body techniques, the services and products addressing pain were in dramatic ascendancy! So you could say this is a good trend, insofar as solutions are out there. (Yes, I searched for the magic wand for better knee joints, but heard it was on aisle 245 ¾, which I never found.)
As Alexandra alluded to in her post, about feeling invisible as she ages hard core is in! “Go Hard or Go Home” is the new mantra. Oooommm, OMG! If you want me to do high impact moves, you’d better be ready to wipe up more than my sweat. (insert incontinence ad here). Back in the 80s and 90s, a common excuse for avoiding the gym was “I have to get in shape before I can head to the gym.” We have come so far since then. Let’s not return, but look ahead at how much tailored movement can help our midlife bodies and minds. Much as I’d love to go back to the future and bring back my younger body all gift wrapped and shiny, it ain’t a gonna happen. I love to work with purpose and to sweat puddles and oodles (I think those words combine to make sweaty poodles: Rough Ruff are you Tough Enough??!) But if you look again at Trend #1, workouts based on More, Harder, Faster, Louder, Sharper, Barfier actually hurt.
Ya feel me? Fortunately fitness professionals are creative and dedicated. They (maybe my sis and I??) will find more solutions for baby boomers who want to move energetically, work out intently, and age actively. We know it’s possible to do so while increasing body comfort, not adding to our dis-ease . Gravity has its benefits, just not on my joints and face. Am I right? Don’t drop down and give me 100. Stay up! Do what you enjoy and can sustain for your enlivened future!
Does your event need education, motivation, and fit-elation? Call us to speak at (805) 403-4338 or email email@example.com.
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Readers: What is your least favorite or most painful exercise? What trend(s) do you see in the fitness industry? What crazy move do you want to try?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Do you have suggestions or success stories for making the most of your second half of life? Do you agree with the list below of the –
The one that most reflects me is #2: having greater confidence. Yup. As Julie Andrews sings as Maria in the Sound of Music, “I Have Confidence in Sunshine; I Have Confidence in Rain; …. Besides Which You See, I Have Confidence in Meeeeeeeee.”
Women shared other positive interesting tidbits in the More Magazine survey. How do you answer?
Apparently 86% of women over 50 believe they appear younger than their years. Gotta love that confidence (back to #2 above).
A resounding 83% of respondents said “no.” But how do we know they are telling the truth? Aha haha Cracking myself up here.
4. Did you increase your workouts like 64% of More readers? As a fitness professional, I was happy to see so many midlife women turning to exercise as the ultimate youthenizer.
3. Perhaps you wore sunscreen more often, in common with another 64%.
2. Moving up the scale of actions women over 50 took in the past decade, we come to 70% coloring their hair (I call it “returning to my roots.” If I colored my hair, I mean…….)
1. In the top spot, 74% of women shifted to a healthier diet. You too?
Take a look at “Why It’s Great to Be a Boomer” to see whether your reasons are on that list. Also, if you agreed above that you look younger than your years, do you have more energy than 20 or 30 year olds? Can you get to that energy level? Click on our post, “Can a 55 Year Old Have More Energy than a 20 Year Old?” to take a look.
Readers: What song reflects your state of mind or personality?
What makes you an Active Aging Superstar?
Photo Credits: The tree and Buddha photos were taken by our friends from Hamburg, Andy and George. All others are mine.
If you liked this post or you’re feeling active, please pin the images, and:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
A fairly free-flowing session at which attendees took turns at the mic asking questions and sharing information. One woman said she used to have a blog focused on health and fitness, but she had shut it down due to lack of readership. The next two women up to the mic commented about their need to lose weight. Major disconnect!
You put on headphones, looked at the magic one-way mirror, and listened while the mirror told you all the reasons you are fantastic. As a person who doesn’t lack for confidence, I started dancing and telling the mirror all the reasons why I was fantastic. The mirror told me I was the first person to come up and share why I was enough (and awesome) as opposed to listening and/or crying. Upon reflection, it was rather sad to learn that I was the first (out of thousands) to say I was enough. Women, are we that hard on ourselves?
The link between self-confidence and weight/ health is so strong that I am going to say something that is (for me) provocative. Take ownership. Do something about it. Complaining doesn’t count. Wishing doesn’t count. If you don’t have a medical issue that prevents you from moving your body (plus eating and sleeping right), then go move your body. Instead of saying, “I need to lose weight” or “I wish I could be more active,” say instead, “I choose not to,” because that’s what is really going on.
Of course, it’s all about small steps, as we’ve been saying for years right here on this very blog. And of course, progress is not in a straight line. And of course, we understand, as we are Boomers with stoopidhead metabolisms that changed 15 years ago too. But feeling good about yourself is in your control (again, I am not talking about those with medical issues). If you cannot march up to that magic mirror and tell it who’s boss, do something about it. This is a picture I took of my kind of celebrity – Roni Noone, founder of Fitbloggin, She has taken many steps – forward, backward, sideways – to get where she is, which is confident. Read this post by her about feeling more attractive and confident.
All the time, and especially at conferences with lots of women, I’m complimented on my energy level. I get my energy from exercising. I’m complimented on my good looks. I’m actually average looking, but I smile. That makes me look good. My smile is merely the outward reflection of my happiness with the efforts I make every day to make choices that get me to my goals. I’m complimented on how young I act and look. Am I special? Actually, yes. But so are you. As David McCullough told the graduating seniors at Wellesley High a few years back, “The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.” Too many of us believe the first sentence, yet remove ourselves from the second.
This is the part where I link to two well-written conference opinion pieces by women I like who just happen to have fun blackmail pics of me. Some of my so-called youthful appearance is due to my hair stylist, and some is due to oily teenage skin, but the rest is due to my rejection of our culture’s “rules” for Boomer women. I enjoy my life. I like people. I am a person. So I like me. And I definitely want you to like you. All of you, not just parts.
So if you eat crap and don’t want to, don’t. If you are overweight and unhealthy and think you should exercise, do it. It’s not about willpower; it’s about choices. Small ones throughout the day that add up. What choices are you going to make that will allow you to march right up to that magic mirror and say, “I’m more than enough; I am awesome?”
A little plug for the AARP Care4YouToo contest – For free, you can join the fitness contest (with prizes) that is now in week 3 of 6. Each week can be stand-alone, so you are not behind if you join now. Get suggestions and support as you make the incremental steps I mentioned above.
Play nice. Emphasize the joy, fun, camaraderie, and energy that exercise brings. Am I right, ladies? We want to do what feels good or helps us live better. Skip the punishment angle, the “all or nothing” approach; get right to all the benefits and the fact that even a little movement goes a long way. Go Active Aging Women Over 50! (Yes, go to our other post on this subject if you like a good rant).
And now to the expressions that invoke Towanda:
What workout quotes tick your wick? Let’s get a good list going in the comments below. And pin this baby, will ‘ya?
Okay, Sandy, you get your wish, as we’ll run with your idea. Actually we will walk with your idea. Often and with vigor!
Many studies have shown that women over 50 have a higher rate of exercise adherence when social support is in place. This support includes weight loss via social media. In plain terms, social media used for social support can lead to improved health and fitness!! We even interviewed expert Ted Vickey a while ago on this exact topic!
So let’s help each other, without reinventing the hamster wheel that none of us wants to run on! Well, actually, I would if I thought it would be fun. Whatever your goal, we challenge you to state it publicly, in the comments below. If you’re on Twitter, leave your name too, and we’ll follow each other. We are @AlexandraFunFit and @KymberlyFunFit. Using the already established hashtag #ffcheckin, we can tweet (it works on Instagram too) about our progress, frustrations, successes, requests for help… If you’re not on Twitter, you can check in using our Facebook Fun and Fit page. If we need it, we can always create a group on Facebook or create a community on Google+, but that is down the line, as Johnny Cash would have said if he had been a personal trainer!
As we are the experts when it comes to fitness, we’ll be the pro hand-holders, encouragers, and info suppliers. Mostly that means we’ll link to great info (probably our own posts – haha), and ask you questions. For example, Sandy says she cannot exercise due to recent surgery. But what does that really mean? Is she allowed to walk? If so, that counts as exercise. Is she allowed to lift a 5 pound bag of flour when she brings homes the groceries? If so, she can do some strength training. My point? Let’s all figure out what we CAN do, as well as what we’re WILLING to do, then help each other do those things.
As a starting point, we’ll give you a suggestion that’s so simple we know you can do it. And it actually helps! Start writing down what you eat. Notice we didn’t say, “Change what you eat,” we just said to write it down. Simply being more aware of your food choices can produce change.
Who’s in? The requirements are in the following LONG list:
* Encourage others
* Post about your goals & progress
Quiz at 11!
By the way, remember when we listed the Koss FitBuds and FitClips in our Gift Guide as part of a FitFluential campaign? Ta da! They have let us know that all models and colors are on sale at Walgreen’s for just $19.99. They’re designed for women, so if music helps you get out and
mosey, stroll, gambol, frolic, skip to your Lou, walk, this might be a good motivational purchase.
Be extra friendly and follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly; on Twitter – AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit; and Instagram – KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Subscribe to our blog (see over there on the right?) while you’re at it.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
We decided to represent for the 50+ crowd at the Love Mud Run held this past Saturday in Temecula, CA. A mud run is an event (usually a 5K) that has a trail, obstacles and a lot of mud. It was called a run, but almost everyone walked, including us. If you see that families and kids are encouraged to participate, you can feel fairly confident you won’t be the only person walking! In fact, you can select which obstacles to tackle as well. If the event title has the words “Warrior,” “Tough,” “Challenge,” “Spartan” or “Timed,” you might want to run (or walk) the other way. As for us, it was our first voluntary mud event since our college soccer rainy days.
As first-timers, we were a bit in the dark as to exactly what to bring, wear, or expect. Luckily, we had Carissa Bealert’s radio episode, Mud Runs are Fun for Everyone in our own Fun and Fit radio archives so we took her advice. Combining that with what we learned, we thought we’d share some tips so you will feel confident signing up for your own mud run.
Just so you know, everyone who finishes gets a medal. At this particular mud run, we saw no-one being timed, so our race bibs were merely to prove we’d paid. If you go with the intent to have fun, you will do exactly that. Oh, if you want to keep your shoes onwhen your feet get stuck in the mud, lift with your toes, not your heels.
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Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
The Anytime Fitness photo contest is only a couple of days from ending, and we want to Win the grand prize of a trip to anywhere Anytime has a club (that includes Poland and Australia)! Kind of like Charlie Sheen and his famous tweet: “Born Ready. Winning.” Except he’s the bad boy of television, and we’re the good twins of fitness! And we aren’t warlocks like Charlie either, so the only way we can win the trip to the Anytime Fitness location of our choice (they are found in 12 countries) is if you vote for us. Creativity helps too, so we sure do hope our photo is Cre.A.Tive!
The voting deadline ends on 21 December, so please head over to Anytime Fitness and click on the link to give us your vote. We are the Running Twins on the Ball. We appreciate every vote! Did we mention that we want to win the trip?
Has the DoubleMint jingle been haunting you since the beginning of the post? We then dedicate this YouTube video to you:
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Photo credits: Us and Flickr