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
Valentine’s Day just passed, and I am glad to see it go. Not for myself, but for those who feel sad. Sometimes it’s from being single; though it can also come from being lonely in a relationship. But I think it’s most sad when it’s a case of feeling unlovable, which is totally different from unloved. In high school I thought I was ugly (I wasn’t – see that pic of me? Nothing to run from), which to me equalled unlovable. My high school experience was so unpleasant that I found a way to graduate a year early. I feel so lucky and grateful to have found confidence in my mid-20s.
Now here we are, many years past high school, and many of us are so self-denigrating about those extra pounds we’ve put on since high school that we don’t even know it. It’s habit. Automatic. “I’d be happy if I just lost 20 pounds.” “I’d love to date, but who’d want me at this weight?” I’ve been paying attention to my habitual thoughts about my weight as I lose the few pounds I gained over the holidays, and mine are definitely tied into looks and self-acceptance.
Those of us who are moms are so good about showing our kids unconditional love, yet we let them see us denigrate ourselves. Worse, they see us defining ourselves by external, non-achievable goals and measures.
Time to rethink and reframe, dear Boom-Chicka-Boomers. We need to separate health from aesthetics. I’ll use myself as an example. Do my extra 5-10 extra pounds (I picked this number, not the government charts, which means the numbers are flawed from the start) affect my health? Truly, not in the least. I have no trouble going uphill or exercising or doing anything, except for playing soccer, which is due to a reconstructed knee, not an inability to have running stamina. And all my health and medical tests say that I’m secretly in the body of a 29-year-old (insert joke here!!). Which leaves aesthetics. Beauty. Looks. Which is a slippery ideal, as the definition changes from culture to culture, and person to person.
Am I saying we should give up on looking our best? Not at all. I’m totally vain and wouldn’t dream of going in public without at least lipstick! I’m saying:
A. Health is measurable. We can know if we’ve achieved it. Beauty is not measurable. The beholder really does have all the power.
B. We need to love ourselves for the things we accomplish that matter. We need to recognize the limits we place on loving ourselves, ESPECIALLY when those limits are based on ever-shifting criteria.
Picture yourself 20 years ago. Don’t you wish you looked like that now? But back then you were too busy unloving yourself to appreciate what you had. Picture yourself now. Flaw, flaw, flaw, comparison, comparison, disapproval, disappointment. Picture yourself 20 years from now, wishing you looked like you do now. Why wait 20 years to know how great you looked in 2014?
Just so you know – when you exercise and eat well for health reasons, you gain confidence. When you gain confidence, you look happier. When you look happy, people are attracted to you. Ka-Ching. Definition of “attractive.” Along the way, the weight will fall off. But I know that when I’m 75 and still teaching group fitness, I’ll feel good about myself. And people will be attracted to me. Good health includes self-love. Health leads to Beauty. Beauty doesn’t necessarily lead to Health.
Watch this video and watch how happy this talented woman is at dancing. How can you not help but love her? And her wild abandon! [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tbcoh5hre74[/youtube]
While you’re at it, view this video of four “regular” women who got the looks of their dreams. Did it make them happy?
I’ll probably never care for the artificially created Valentine’s holiday. And l’ll still lose those last few pounds. With friends to support me. I am one of those friends.
Photo credits: Woman on Scale: Chelsea3883
Want to love us as much as we love ourselves? Here ya go:
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.
Kymberly and I were invited to be part of the sponsored “What’s Beautiful” campaign by Under Armour and FitFluential (in this case, this means we are being sent free Under Armour apparel to wear for the challenge). I cannot speak to Kymberly’s goals or reasons for accepting the invitation (her internet is down, so her post is a-coming), but I took them up on it because I want my midlife Boomer voice to be heard when it comes to determining what beauty is.
Essentially, Under Armour has an 8-week campaign for women who want to create a goal or challenge, and we document our progress. A few of the women can win prizes, and I like winning, but my actual motivation is to show as many women as possible that beauty is not confined to the first half of the lifespan. In truth, I am acutely aware that the previous winners are all young, which either means only young women can win…or no older women are doing the challenge. So, Boom, Alexandra Quixote here to tilt at the windmill!
My video should enlighten you beyond belief, so please watch it![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLEzjE7pHDI[/youtube]
If you didn’t watch this very short video (why didn’t you?), then you don’t know that I believe beautiful to be health-related. As I put in a tweet today, if you are healthy, confident, happy, have energy, friends, and are kind, you are truly beautiful. Nothing at all related to age.
That being said, I want to ask your help. For the What’s Beautiful campaign we had to choose a goal. I chose to hike up the steep, winding road that goes from the city below, up near the top of the mountain where I live. You can simply follow my progress by hitting the Follow button on my What’s Beautiful profile (you might have to sign in via Facebook), or if you want to climb your own personal hill (sure, it can be metaphorical), then please join my team “Up Yours: Hill, That Is” so we can encourage each other and share our progress. I plan to hike approximately 7 miles, going from bottom to top, then back down (where my car will be waiting for me). If you want to join my “Up Yours: Hill, That Is” team, you can choose whether you want to hike up an actual hill or overcome an obstacle that’s between you and better health. I especially welcome Boomer women (and their daughters).
Late last year I did a different What’s Beautiful challenge (unofficially; I didn’t compete) entitled Challenge Yourself to a Healthier You, and I hope you read it. I won’t tell you what challenge I picked for myself, but I will say that I did accomplish it and realized that I am Awesome and Amazing in the process!
The official description of this year’s What’s Beautiful campaign: a community and a competition to redefine the female athlete. Under Armour invites YOU to aim high and declare a goal in their What’s Beautiful competition. Complete challenges and share your journey; join teams if you like for additional challenges, support and motivation.
Please click the link above to follow my What’s Beautiful profile, as well as the one to join my Up Yours team. With your help and encouragement, I will get to the top! More importantly, all the exercise will keep me healthy and beautiful for the next 50 years. If you don’t agree, piss off! Wait, maybe I should have said “Up Yours!”
What is your definition of beauty?
Tote that bale, lift that load, and climb that hill to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness. 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.
During my recent trip to Cologne with the Modenus BlogTour, I experienced water from a variety of perspectives.
On the very first night of BlogTour, we were invited by BLANCO to a private dinner at the German Sports and Olympic Museum. For a good description with great pictures, read this post by Tina Ramchandani. I mention the dinner for several reasons: 1) it set the tone for how we were treated throughout the entire event, 2) the water at meals in Europe usually comes in glass bottles, and 3) wine has water in it!
Water Comes Out (of the Faucet)
On the morning after the welcome dinner, we headed to the BLANCO booth at The Living Kitchen inside IMM Cologne: The International Furnishing Show to learn about faucets, sinks and water systems. The sign at the booth had a waterfall, which I hope you can see in this picture. In any case, BLANCO had two items in particular that I fell in love with. The first was a hot water system that puts out boiling water instantly. As they say on their site, “nothing works in the kitchen without water,” and if you want steaming tea or coffee water immediately, you can get it. Cooking, preparing, heating, washing – Boom, boiling water that’s 97 celsius. Don’t ask me what that is in Fahrenheit – heck, we were in Europe, so we got European measurements – all I know is that the days of running water wastefully down the drain while it heats up (or in my case, filling the pets’ drinking bowl repeatedly) are over. Well, those days are over in 2014, which is when this system might be available in the U.S. But I can wait – my kitchen will still be around next year!
My favorite BLANCO product was the SAGA tap. I immediately thought of my mom, who is a young person in an elderly body. She has arthritis in her hands and wrists, and her grip strength isn’t that great. This faucet is ideal for people like her who have limited mobility, dexterity, vision or grip strength. Instead of having to reach for a lever, or twist one (or even two) handles, you just slide the sleeve that’s right by the spout. Super simple to use: slide forward or back to control water volume, and gently turn left or right to set the water temperature. With 10,000 boomers turning 65 every day for the next decade, products that “speak” to aging joints will be mandatory. When I saw this faucet, I immediately thought of the increased independence this design offers.
Water Goes In (To the Skin and Body)
One of the sponsors of BlogTour was Mr. Steam, makers of steam showers and towel warmers. They sent us to the Claudius Therme Spa, known for its healing thermal mineral waters. For a lively recap of the visit to the spa, read this post by Paul Anater.
According to their site, the heated water “aids rheumatic complaints and diseases of the intervertebral discs or joints, has a positive effect on hypertension, circulatory problems and disorders caused by stress, and activates enzymes and and stabilizes bone structure.”
On the Mr. Steam site you can find a list of 44 benefits of steam therapy, which add to the list above. Below are just a few:
* Cleanses, lubricates and hydrates the skin
* Removes toxins from the body
* Increases circulation
* Helps the body rid itself of excess sodium
* May relieve pain and discomfort from arthritis
* Rids the body of metabolic and other waste products
* Promotes deep, restful sleep
* Helps reinvigorate tired muscles
* Increases muscular flexibility
And of course, #44 is my favorite because it’s so specific:
* Adds humidity to your orchids (I don’t have orchids, but my dry legs like humidity!)
We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the spa (possibly due to the naked people wandering about the sauna area), but I will tell you that we sat inside a very steamy hot tub in the middle of a pool that had a current so you could float or swim while circling the hot tub. The photo above shows how it looked. It was heavenly. Yay! Now I’m back home with bronchitis and wishing for a steam shower. Boo! But we were allowed to take pictures of the group eating dinner at the spa. Yes, we really are eating a formal dinner while dressed in robes!
Speaking of steam, you might like to know what I thought of the Miele steam oven once I saw it in person. After eating a lot of food made in the steam oven at the convention, my advice is “Run to the store and buy one right now!” I even tweeted about my plan to toss my micro in place of the steam oven, and I encourage you to do the same if you want super delicious, nutritious food.
Going to IMM Cologne really taught me new ways of viewing my life and home, and how truly good design can help improve both. When my home is healthy, I’m happy, and when I’m healthy, my home is a happy place.
Oh, while we’re on the subject of water, if you’re a boomer you’ll get the song reference in this post’s title. This video should help. But change the answer to “Absolutely Something”[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01-2pNCZiNk[/youtube]
Want to water your own face with tears of joy? First, take a look at our post on what water temperature is best for exercisers. Then please subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter:AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above. We’ll cry happiness tears too!
Disclaimer: I was not paid to share my opinions about the products I liked at IMM Cologne. I am, however, very grateful to all the sponsors.
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:
Fun Fit Fact: Those who subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog get more fun fit facts. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Click now on the icons above or below. We make it easy to share and subscribe!
Photo credits: Us and Flickr