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.
I’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:
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.
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?
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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.
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.
For a hint of the fun flavor, we present this flash mob video of “Fame.” Alexandra is easy to spot.
Last week we headed up to Portland, Oregon to speak at the annual Fitbloggin’ convention, which in their words is “for bloggers interested in fitness, wellness, good food and a healthy lifestyle. Two days of education, networking, friendship and fun.” But you don’t have to be a blogger; you can be a future blogger too.
Mornings were dedicated to small group discussions that ranged from the challenges and emotions during and after significant weight loss, to goal-setting (for diet and activity), to injuries. Afternoons were for the business side of things, with speakers talking about writing, working with brands, making money from your social media accounts, improving video & photo skills, technical blog skills, and nutrition. A lot was packed into the two-day schedule, that’s for sure! If you go to the Fitbloggin’ Facebook page, you can access the notes to many of the sessions.
In between, there was the Expo hall, where sponsoring brand representatives showcased their latest products and services. When we say “showcase,” we mean “they were very generous with their time and products.” For example, Reebok gave everyone a fitness top and workout shoes.
Alexandra wore the top in the JumpSport trampoline class and her boobsicles stayed in place. Ergo (yes, a place to stick that fancy-shmancy word). we signed up to be affiliates with Reebok via Share-A-Sale because we think you will like their workout apparel. Maybe we should get an ad tagline: Better Boobsicles for Boomers! hahahaha. And someone (not Kymberly, sadly) won a complete kitchen from Amana. Alexandra won a personal trampoline, so look for some upcoming videos that show knee- and pee-friendly moves!!! If you don’t know what that means, just move along. Nothing to see here.
We have attended and spoken at many, many (repeat that word several times) conventions, and found this one to have the most “hugs,” by which we mean friendliness and genuine caring between the bloggers, Fitbloggin’ staff, sponsors and even the hotel staff (it was held at The Nines in Portland).
An enthusiastic thank you goes out to NOWFoods, the company that helped pay for our travel to Oregon. They offer products that range from aromatherapy to supplements to snacks and teas. And they happen to be giving away free samples of their Slender Sticks on their Facebook page. Just click on the square marked Sample. One lucky attendee at our “Craft the Perfect Pitch” workshop won a backpack full of their products. It was probably worth more than what she paid for the convention!
Next year it will be in either Austin or Nashville. We’re voting for Austin!
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The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of VitaFusionAlexandra Williams, MA
The last time I had my blood drawn I was doing better in my iron than my usual anemic stats, yet was in need of more Vitamin D, which seems to be standard for boomer
hotties women such as myself.
If I give you the stats about the various vitamins and minerals in the chewable MultiVites gummies for adults that VitaFusion sent me, you will skim it, even if I say they come in peach, berry and orange natural flavors, or that they contain as much Vitamin A, C and D3 as 1 cup of broccoli, 1 tangerine, and 3 ounces of salmon. What I’ll do instead is tell you a story about my son and my evil genetics.
I never realized how much I choke on food and drink until I had kids and they talked about how often I seemed to have trouble swallowing. To me, it was normal. I thought that everyone struggled to swallow pills. And being ribbed about putting water in my mouth before the pill didn’t faze me. How was I to know that the rest of the world puts the pill in first?
Then it turned out my younger son was born different from the rest of us. Among his issues was an inability to fully move his tongue or swallow properly. I learned that this included choking when he was in 2nd or 3rd grade and I had to give him the Heimlich while his brother called 911. He went onto a choking protocol at school after we got him tested the very next day.
So he and I share a dislike of swallowing pills, but for him it was more of a life-threatening kind of deal that freaks out the mom! So he always had chewable vitamins. I just continued with my “water first, pill second, then swallow and gag” routine. So I raised my hand really high when the invitations went out to try these chewable gummy vitamins for adults.
For me, it’s truly a relief to find a daily vitamin that I can easily ingest. No more talking myself into a daily vitamin. And even though my son no longer has a choking protocol in place, he still can’t do pills. But he’s old enough for the MultiVites, so I went right over to our local CVS and bought him some. When I finish the bottle that I was sent, I’m going to get the Platinum kind that’s for the over-50 crowd. Yeah, I need to get over the fact that I’m in that age group. sigh….
It’s hard to convey in words how much difference something seemingly small can make. For most of us, having a chewable vitamin is a mere convenience; for my son it’s a safety issue. And he likes the texture and taste. Typical teen. Atypical swallow reflex.
Need professional, edu-taining, motivating speakers or writers ? Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
While biting the gummy bear’s head off, subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness and health. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on Google+: Alexandra and Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.
Yesterday morning I went to the memorial service for the father of a friend of mine. In the afternoon I called my own dad, with whom I am quite close. In the evening I watched as my son did chores he knew would make his dad happy.
As the circle of life (curse you, Lion King for co-opting this phrase; I prefer Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game” ) is on my mind, I got to thinking about what this means to us boomers. More memorial services, more taking on of responsibilities by grown children, more contemplation on love, happiness and longevity.
Sometimes I get sad, thinking about the few years I have left with my dad, or the fact that my kids are on the path to leaving this home and creating their own. But getting sad just makes me feel stuck and powerless. So I try to think instead of the many years I’ve had with my dad and how much we’ll enjoy the ones still left to us. And I think of the pride I feel, seeing my boys make their way as contributing world citizens. That makes me feel hopeful and happy. And I go for walks. Those really clear my “stuck” moods. Which is good for my health!
According to the Mayo Clinic, physiological and emotional links between movement and happiness have been established. And the exercise doesn’t have to be hardcore; it can be softcore. Hmmm, that sounds slightly off. In any case, gardening, strolling or washing the car (anything that’s movement) counts. Exercise can:
Release feel-good brain chemicals (neurotransmitters and endorphins)
Reduce depression-related immune system chemicals
Increase body temperature, which may have calming effects
Help you gain confidence as you meet exercise goals or challenges, even small ones
Improve your assessment of your appearance
Take your mind off worries.
Increase your chances to chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
Help you cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive is a healthy coping strategy.
Additionally, life satisfaction increases when you exercise. Not only is that good news for me, it’s especially relevant to my college-aged son, as his age group is at the most risk for life dissatisfaction. So, my happiness goes up if I exercise, and my worry-warting goes down if he exercises! Win Win!
So go for a walk! Or wash the car. Better yet, wash MY car. My happiness will definitely go up. And in case you’re wondering – I took my own advice and went for a hike up the mountain this morning. The views helped contribute to my feeling of joy as I walked above the fog blanket. And it’s fun to do the “Sound of Music” spin when I near the mountain top. Try it. You’ll feel loved, lovely and loving. Just try not to burst out singing, “The hills are alive….” when bicyclists are passing. It might make them crash.
What do you do to make yourself happy?
I dedicate this post to my friend Caitlin and wish her many joyous memories of her dad.
Photo of Julie Andrews courtesy of Photobucket
While spinning and singing, subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness and health. So satisfying! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on Google+: Alexandra and Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.
Alexandra: For most of my life, I’ve eschewed supplements as unnecessary. I’ve always been a believer that we can get what we need for our bodies through good nutrition and exercise. But that “most” of my life was prior to my 50th birthday. Now I deal with a reconstructed soccer knee and foot. And it takes longer to heal the rare times that I do get sick.
So when we were asked to try out Pure Matters supplements, I was leery, yet willing. Knowing the history of supplements, I checked out the company first, and was comforted by their commitment to clean ingredients, including this statement on their site: “Trustworthy – We will use only wholesome, scientifically proven ingredients composed in clean facilities. And when our formulations can be improved, we will improve them.” My two biggest issues with supplements – Can the ingredients be trusted? and Will these help my health?
I chose to try Biotin (skin, nails & hair), Omega-3 Fish Oils (heart health) and GlucoChon MSM Formula (joint & tissue health). If you read my previous post about getting my blood tested, you might recall that the consulting registered dietitian recommended Omega-3 Fish Oil to me. Boom!
Today I will focus on the GlucoChon MSM Formula, because that is the one where I definitely noticed a difference. Normally when I fly, my reconstructed knee gets very stiff, and I spend the day after flying with a slight limp and some swelling at the knee. I took 3 tablets a day for a month. At the end of that month I flew from California to Europe and back, for a total of 5 flights. My knee didn’t feel stiff for those flights, nor did I end up limping. No inflammation either. It wasn’t a controlled study, and who knows what other variables were in play, but this was the first time since my 1998 knee surgery (and a handful of subsequent surgeries) that I had no issues after flying. Cause and effect or correlation – I have no idea. But I would take these supplements again (besides trusting their ingredients, I also am a huge fan of their customer service). Since I’m not a doctor, I cannot make supplement recommendations, but I can recommend Pure Matters as a company I trust to work with me as a consultant for my health needs. I can also say that I believe these supplements worked for me.
Kymberly: Do you have joints that predict weather? Ever since I broke both wrists as a teenager falling out of a tree, they ache when the weather changes. That is, my wrists did creak and moan until I made one change: taking Pure Matters “Joint Health” supplements. To be honest, I committed to trying the supps to help my knee joint (which has arthritis and chronic pain after a soccer injury and two surgeries. Sound like a certain twin we all know?). Then I noticed that my wrists were not predicting the weather anymore. In fact, they felt so good I forgot about them until I finished my last “Joint Health” tablets. Within two days, my wrists were aching and futuretelling once again.
As for my knee, it is hard to tell the supplements’ effect as my knee ached off and on a lot during the trial period. (See my prior post on the subject). But I have been breaking in new orthotics this past month, which has thrown that rascal joint into confusion. I need to give the “Joint Health” another go to really note the effect on my knee (and to keep my wrists from competing again with the evening weather report).
Speaking of nights, what did work wonders was the “For Healthy Sleep” formula I also tried. Anyone else yearn for those nights where you fall asleep and stay asleep until morning? No stumbling trips to the bathroom, no night sweats, no cats wrestling on your back at o’dark too early, no insomnia with a list of “to do’s” running through your head, no hubster cover hogging? I love my cats and hubster, but I also love when I travel and stay in hotel rooms. Alone. Cuz’ I remind myself what a good night’s sleep feels like on those occasions.
So I was happily surprised when the “For Healthy Sleep” tablets provided the same great sleep as my nights in hotels. As in, like magic and immediately. And less expensively. Now if only my knee would feel so refreshed!
Have you found supplements that have worked for you? Others that have been expensive pee? Let us know!
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FitFluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.