In 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.
I 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 Why accept outdated cultural norms?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.
Be 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 Why do we accept outdated cultural norms?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).”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.
Now I laugh at my arrogant youthful self. Hahahaha. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.
The tides have turned, and nowadays I see all kinds of things on social media that celebrate Boomer women. Of course, brands are still focused on pitching “age defying” skin products to us, supplements to “keep us young,” and independent living products. Guess what?! We don’t see ourselves as old and infirm or in need of “fixing.” We just want the same things we wanted at 30, but with wisdom attached.
For example, in my twenties I loved to go disco dancing. I still love it. The difference is that it’s no longer easy to find a venue that offers it. And I don’t have a wrap skirt. Back then my younger sister and I would parade back and forth to the ladies’ room a lot, as an excuse to
check out the guys let the guys check us out. If I made more than one trip to the bathroom at a public place now, people might think I have bladder issues, but I still like to check out the handsome guys. Just not the ones in their twenties.
There isn’t an age or specific date when we lose our desire to look attractive and feel sexy. Or if there is, no-one told me. And I don’t want them to. One of the many benefits to being older is that I don’t really care what other people think of me. I care what I think of me. I earned my confidence and right to be seen.
After a fairly rough 2015, I decided to join the La Boheme dance troupe here in Santa Barbara. I am not a professional dancer. I am a person who likes to dance. It’s stress-reducing. It helps keep my brain sharp. It’s a chance to make new friends. Most importantly, it’s fun. We wear some wild costumes. By “wild” I mean “super sexy.” Not once have I heard anyone suggest we are too old to wear these costumes. But I have heard people saying how happy they are to see women older than 20 doing dance performances in town. And we get a lot of compliments about great we look. Not “for our age,” just great. Period. As you look at these pictures, are you surprised that most of the women in them are in their 40s and 50s? One is even in her 60s. Just sayin’.
So if you are a Boomer women who wonders if you’ve got “it,” wonder no more. All you need is a smile, attitude, and confidence. Be flirty. Dance in public. Say thank you to compliments without adding caveats that negate that compliment. And if you don’t think you can do that, act as if you can. Fake it till you make it. You’ll see.
And if you’re in the Santa Barbara area, join the La Boheme dancers. We are going to be in the annual Solstice Parade. The theme is “Legends.” Practices start April 12th. Come to a meet and greet to learn more at Brasil Arts Cafe on State Street at 7PM.
As to me, I’ll be over here disco dancing. Bee Gees and Boomer Hotties Rule Forever.
by Alexandra Williams, MA
Photo credits: Ross Barrett, Gilbert Cruz and me.
We 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….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.
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.
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
Of 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.
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
Alexandra Williams, MA
Then I had the audacity to give birth in the mid-90s to two big-headed babies. I could Kegel all day and Kegel all night, but I just wasn’t the same. Have you ever tried to do jumping jacks while simultaneously crossing your legs? Doesn’t work, no no no.
In the late 90s I was teaching a strength training class (no jumping involved at all), and a student came up to me during a break in the workout to very delicately ask me if I was aware that I might want to “er, run to the ladies’ room, as I was, um, sweating on my backside.” I think she was more embarrassed than I, but it made me realize that Kegels and wishful thinking weren’t enough to keep me dry throughout class.
Fast forward to 2015 after years of wearing liners and pads during my more intense workouts. I teach at a university, so my students are young and love intense workouts. Okay, “love” is maybe too strong a term, but never mind that now. I want to focus on the students, without having to worry if I jump or sneeze or cough. Sure, I’d be embarrassed if my students thought I had peed my pants, but more importantly, they’d be uncomfortable if they were worrying for me. Little do they know how hard it is to embarrass me. Part of my job is to make the workout focused on them, not me.
Enter the brand-new Depend Silhouette Active Fit moderate absorbency lower-rise briefs, which you can find at Walmart. Reaction #1 – ack, aren’t these for my parents? Reaction #2 – maybe I’ve turned into my parents. Reaction #3 – times have changed; I’ll check these out.
This is the point in the story where you are encouraged to say, “Prove it” to me. So I shall by directing you to the video below. I am wearing the Depend Silhouette Active Fit briefs in the video. Check out my butt. Go ahead. For scientific purposes.
Notice the high quality of the photos and video, and how I look so fabutastic?! That’s because I was a model for a day. You’ll see the print ads in magazines such as Women’s Day, and the video at Walmart. I’m a SuperStahhhhh.
I am participating in a VIN campaign for Depend. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with Depend and do not earn a commission or percent of sales. Of course, I dare you to try some of the jumps I did in the video. No commission to me for that, but it would make me smile.
“The Other Talk” uses the premise of ‘the talk’ recognized as a cultural event in life where mothers talk with their teenage daughters about sex. “The Other Talk” expands this coming of age tradition to the next generation with a hilarious take on how that conversation unfolds some 40 years later!
“Until recently, I was unaware that many women are uncomfortable or embarrassed to discuss symptoms of postmenopause, and therefore, suffer in silence,” says Emmy-nominated actress Brenda Strong, who is known for her role on Desperate Housewives and Dallas. “That’s why I welcomed the opportunity to work with Pfizer on the “Let’s Talk About Change” campaign to help transform the way we think and talk about postmenopause and empower women to take action to find relief.”
She also encourages women to take the following steps to help manage the physical changes that happen after menopause and change their mindset about aging and postmenopause.
CHANGE YOUR AWARENESS
Both menopause and postmenopause are a normal part of aging. Menopause is what happens when a woman’s menstrual period stops for 12 months in a row, typically around the age of 51. While each woman’s experience is different, some women experience symptoms such as hot flashes, trouble sleeping, night sweats, moodiness and urinary problems. However, postmenopause also brings changes to women’s bodies. Postmenopausal vaginal atrophy (or the thinning of vaginal tissues) can occur, and without treatment, symptoms can worsen. Symptoms may include: severe vaginal itching, burning and dryness, painful intercourse, urinary urgency, and painful urination.
CHANGE THE DIALOGUE
If you’re experiencing these postmenopausal symptoms, you’re not alone! Nearly one third of women experience these symptoms after menopause. To help find relief, it’s important to speak openly and honestly with your healthcare professional as well as your partner. Find some tips for starting these conversations here: Change the Dialogue.
CHANGE YOUR OUTLOOK
What else can you do to help manage the stress that can sometimes come with menopause and postmenopause? Laugh! Menopause is a normal, natural event—not a disease—so why not have a little fun with it? Check out “The Other Talk,” which features Strong to help raise awareness
about the symptoms of postmenopause and encourage women to speak up and take action to find relief.
Disclosure: I am participating in a VIN campaign for Pfizer. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, I am in no way affiliated with Pfizer and do not earn a commission or percent of sales. This post was written by Pfizer and supported and shared by Fun And Fit.
Okay, Sandy, you get your wish, as we’ll run with your idea. Actually we will walk with your idea. Often, with vigor, and together!
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 and help you lose weight! Our post, 3 Ways to Lose Weight without Diet or Exercise may have some happy, helpful surprise tips for you as well.
Women over 50 have a higher rate of exercise adherence when social support is in place Click To Tweet
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. If you’re not on Twitter, you can post your progress, challenges, questions on our Facebook Fun and Fit page. We also encourage you to join the Facebook community, The Women of Midlife. You’ll find a super supportive, active group of middle aged women, who weigh in (get it?) on a range of topics, not just exercise, weight loss, or fitness.
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. One way we try to help given we’re certified fitness professionals, is to offer solutions via our posts. For instance, if you are interested in losing weight, try one of the exercise programs we suggest in one of our most popular posts, Best Workouts to Burn Fat for Women Over 50.
If you really want to up your chances to succeed with your wellness goals, then see what other experts have to suggest. Our TransformAging summit rounded up the best of the best when it comes to active aging solutions specifically for our age group. Click this link to see if this Active Aging webinar program might be right for you.
For now 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!
Go public with your health and fitness goals. Not only will you be more inclined to achieve your weight loss goals, but also you’ll have hooked up with wonderful, like-minded people. We’ll call them “friends.” Why not?
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Vibrant Influencer Network compensated us for this post. Of course all opinions are our own, and the research results are from unrelated, independent sources.
For every minute you walk briskly, you can reap a potential gain of one to seven extra minutes of life! Midlifers especially benefit from putting in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise (such as brisk walking or a cardio class). If you increase your intensity to a strenuous level, you can double the effect, according to a recent study on exercise and lifespan.
Holy smokes, but that is fairly astounding and under your control! For instance, if 150 minutes of a Low Impact group fitness class can offer you a 1-7 return, then a 75 minute high intensity run or elliptical workout would give you 14 minutes of extended lifespan for every minute you huff and puff your sweaty, baby boomer way to long life!
Kymberly: Let’s imagine you are like one of the women in my older adult classes who protested when I shared this Fun Fit Fact in the Forever Fit Cardio class I teach: “I don’t want to live longer. What if those extra years are dependent, lonely ones?” Understandable fear and question.
No doubt you have heard the adage that exercise adds life to your years, not just years to your life. You know Alexandra and I HAVE to git on up on our high hossies to extol the many benefits of moving on a regular basis, such as countering depression, enhancing mood, improving optimism and self-image. In other words, active, fit people tend to be happy, engaged people since quality of life goes up along with those added years.
Let’s look at another huge cause of weight gain and health risk that has been getting a lot of attention lately — prolonged sitting. (Oops, I think I will now stand up to type this post. Ok, my hiney has gone vertical now). Ready to be motivated? If you reduce your sitting to fewer than three hours per day, you increase longevity by two years. I know I want to be around to see my future grandchildren grow up, visit me, and try to out walk me! Nevah! Well, maybe one day, but by 90 years old I will be ok to be out-exercised by whippersnapper rellies.
Wait, there’s more! If you cut back your tv watching time to fewer than two hours per day, you have an estimated life span increase of just over a year. We know, we know – such study results are no guarantees for individuals and are statistical averages only. Still, don’t you have loved ones and a bucket list and things left to do in life that make less sitting, more moving, and more quality years just a little tempting? Why not tip the odds in your favor?
What if you die youngish like-ish despite your best, healthiest efforts? (Remember this post is sponsored by Royal Neighbors of America, a life insurance company with a difference — the organization’s philanthropic efforts are dedicated to changing women’s lives through its national programs.) While we women outlive men on average, is your family protected financially if you can no longer contribute to the household income? Women tend to be underinsured. I know I carry far less life insurance than does my husband. And I am several years younger and a trophy wife! Just agree and keep reading, will ya?
At the very least, click this calculator to assess your life insurance needs. You never know what might happen….
Alexandra: A few years ago I received a call that Kymberly had been in a serious car accident. Luckily, the phone call started with, “Don’t worry, she’s going to be okay,” so I didn’t panic…too much. And she was okay (You know, as much as she’ll ever be! Notice I didn’t say “normal”). It was a bit of a wake-up call for me, though, as I have the mindset that my exceptionally good health will protect me from everything, including zombies and locusts.
Back in the parallel universe that is reality, I realized that I needed to add life insurance to the list of steps I’ve taken to protect my sons in case I’m hit by a bus (in clean undies of course). Even though I don’t make a lot of money, every bit counts, and I don’t want my kids to be stuck with my mortgage, car payment, the school loans we took out for my eldest, or COD (cost of death – funeral or cremation). I jumped at the chance to write this post (jumping is good for you), because I think I’m the typical boomer woman — has income, doesn’t have life insurance. And I like the way Royal Neighbors is doing business. What about you; Have your protected YOUR income?
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It’s like I’m stuck in a Cheech and Chong skit – The first day on my vacation, I woke up. Then, I went downtown to look for job. Then I hung out in front of the drugstore. The second day on my summer vacation, I woke up, then I went downtown to look for a job. Then I hung out in front of the drugstore. The third day… (If you don’t get that 1972 reference, you are not a boomer). I’m not depressed or sad or weepy or pessimistic or grumpy or or or… But I’m off. Instead of feeling like I am a participant in my world, I feel like the world is happening around me.
I was thinking it might be hormones or menopause, yet nothing seems to be different. In any case, I decided last night that I’d had enough of waiting. Waiting for my usual energy or cheeriness or joie de vivre to return. Instead of waking up sort of rumbly and angsty, I decided to shake things up a bit. The relationship between exercise and moodis well-established, so I gave myself the same advice I’d give to a client – get moving!
And so I did. I got up at 0600 and got a ride to the bottom of the mountain pass near my home, then hiked up to the top. As part of a sponsored Under Armour challenge I had declared a goal of hiking up this pass, so I figured getting up super early (for me) would be an added achievement. Besides, it’s easy to spot the mood-elevating endolphins swimming around the harbor that early in the morning!!!
hahahah it’s a joke – these neurotransmitters are really called endorphins, and they are like happy pills, except they are created by your own body and no pills are involved. According to Dr. William Sears, we are our own pharmacology site.
What I learned as I walked up the hill this morning:
* the nasty black flies aren’t out in massive numbers early in the morning
* lots of cars come down the winding road at that time
* the views are amazing, especially as the sun comes over the hills
* the people driving those cars like to wave hello
* it’s as steep as I believed it to be
* it was easier than I expected
* being outside on a gorgeous day, with amazing views, good music in my ears and my body movin’ and groovin’ works perfectly as a mood-enhancer.
No wonder I don’t need any medications (my doc is always amazed, due to “my age,” which is actually kind of scary in its implications) – I have hiking in my veins, so there’s no room for artificial stimulants in them! In any case, I cheered right up and have been productive all morning. The only thing is…I’ve completed my What’s Beautiful goal. So I guess I’ll change it and go up, then back down the mountain. If that comes too easily, I’ll do it without stopping for pictures every few minutes! Pssst, that What’s Beautiful link is to my profile in case you want to follow my progress.
I have a question for all of you, especially the boomer women – do you ever get into a mood rut, where you just can’t find your mojo, or passion, or gumption, or meaning, or even your special purpose (alert: 1979 Steve Martin reference)? What did you do to get out of it? I want to copy your ideas in case I get sick of that hike.
By the way, when I’m not being a grumpus, I like to have fun. If you want to know how I define “fun,” you’ll have to read the interview at Bite Size Wellness.
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Photo credit: Dolphins ryn413.
Yoga can transform you into a more confident woman who’s not afraid to meet life’s challenges. Not only will you become stronger, more flexible, and more agile, but yoga will also affect your mind as you cultivate patience. Yoga can help prepare you to face life’s changes with love, respect, and belief in yourself, and will strengthen you in all the choices you make.
Through yoga, you will learn to listen more to yourself, and trust your self-assessments. As you set the boundaries that work for this phase of life, you will hone your ability to take one day at a time and stay at the present moment. Not tomorrow or yesterday, but now.
Yoga takes your values and thoughts and turns them upside down. If you’ve harbored negative thoughts about yourself, you’ll find yourself becoming a more positive person who values the experiences life has to offer.
In the past, women approaching their 50’s lowered their expectations of what their bodies could do. Perhaps due to cultural pressures and perceptions, women’s self-esteem at this age could suffer. Stress adds tension, especially at the shoulders and neck, which can affect breathing. Once women learn to breathe deeply, their shoulders relax and you can see them start to settle into their own bodies as they learn how to use their entire lungs when they breathe.
No matter what age we are, we have to believe that we are good enough just the way we are. It has to be repeated over and over so that it manifests itself in the mind, because it is the truth. We have to accept and love ourselves for who we are. We don’t need to be perfect – we just have to like who we are. But we sometimes need a little bit of help, because the pressure from the external world is powerful. Yoga can be that friend that provides help.
Yoga is a powerful practice that encourages wellbeing on so many levels. It enables us to age with grace and beauty, and makes the aging process more pleasurable and meaningful.
If you are new to yoga and don’t know where to begin, the following video is for you. It is a sequence of 8 yoga postures specifically for beginners.
More cool info about Lexi: She instructs Yoga videos on her YouTube channel and actively works on her website LexiYoga.com. Her life mainly consists of – Eat, Sleep & Yoga. Follow her to learn more about the healing power and benefits of yoga.
Photo Credits: Lexi Yoga