Dear Alexandra and Kymberly: I just lost my husband, Julian to cancer. Due to all the hospital appointments, my eating habits also got lost! I have put on a lot of weight, but feel so tired and lethargic I can’t get into the mood to do exercise. I have damage to my neck, knees, and lower back (due to a fall) plus my midriff and waist have become “large” and I have lost my waistline. At 69 years young this is depressing me. I am also worried about a “ledge” at the bottom of my tummy and scared it will be “resting” on the top of my legs when I sit down!!!
As well, I look after my 96 year young Mum, who has no balance anymore due to cancer and other problems. So she is only able very slowly to get from one room to another downstairs. I get to bed about 1:30am once my Mum’s medication kicks in and she falls asleep. She usually wakes me about 7am to go to the toilet, then goes back to bed until 10:00. (She is in a hospital bed in my living room so isn’t able to get up by herself). I have been looking after my Mum for 3 years and my husband for the last 2 and half, so have had little sleep etc. which may be the reason I feel tired. Since Julian died, I am still running around for Mum, but not doing the right things to lose the “middle” weight.
I need all the help I can get!! I appreciate other people’s input so have included my name. Kindest regards, Patricia of Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
Dear Patricia: Wow! Talk about the perfect storm for changes to your body, mood, and energy levels! We’re amazed and honored you have time to write to us for advice. Fortunately, we have some practical suggestions that may help you and other widows, post menopausal women, and caregivers gain energy and lose weight. (Check out what we told caregivers who wrote to us with similar concerns: A Workout Plan to Lose Weight When You Are a Caregiver)
If you have a weensy bit more time and energy, then click over go to our YouTube Channel where you can find exercises just right for your goals and capabilities.
Let us know how you fare and feel free to comment below, especially once others share their tips and support. We offer our condolences on your husband’s death.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Special K sent us some brownies (how did they know I have a son who has chocolate brownies as his preferred food group?!), and I guess they have angels working in their chocolate department, because the brownies are named Divine Fudge and Heavenly Caramel. Whether their status is due to the fact that they have real cocoa in them, or are only 80 calories per brownie, I don’t know. I just know that they were a yummy afternoon snack and I didn’t feel guilty about eating one. And yes, it is possible to satiate the desire for a sweet treat with just one.
In 1908, when the chocolate bar was introduced, it was .6 ounces. By 2002, the smallest version of that chocolate bar was 1.6 ounces. In 1995, the average serving size for a brownie was 3.2 ounces. In the past twenty years, the typical brownie serving has doubled in size. But our bodies want us to live in the past. In other words, we can satisfy our chocolate cravings by eating a Special K brownie that goes back to 1908 by being only .7 ounces. The good news – no corsets involved.
I’m currently studying for my nutrition specialist certification, and know that the majority of the population will indulge in a sweet snack nearly every day. I also know that the majority of the U.S. population is weight-conscious. The 80 calorie Special K brownies might be the solution for you, just as they were for my son.
And if you’re expecting guests, you can put one on the pillow instead of a chocolate mint. About the same size; about the same calories, but without the melty mess. Not speaking from personal experience of course – cough, cough.
For further info about both the Heavenly Caramel and Divine Fudge, visit www.specialk.com, or find them on Facebook or Twitter. And of course, you can always just head to your local grocery store and check them out for yourself.
For further info about getting chocolate mint stains off a pillow, ask your mom. Don’t ask me – I wasn’t successful.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Special K Brownies.
To make it easy to share (and because I want to increase my Pinterest skills), I made a nice easy pin of our 10 tips to avoid holiday weight gain that you can access at the next big get-together.
As we’ve mentioned before, if you incorporate more movement into your daily activities, you can successfully lose weight (or keep weight from jumping on to your body in the first place). So it sure would be nice if house cleaning fell into the “watch those kcals just fall off my body” category, wouldn’t it?
Good news for all of us who have worked up a sweat changing the bedsheets, vacuuming the rugs, and dusting the ceilings (please don’t say I’m the only person who does this) – according to a recent study in the U.K., a good spring cleaning can burn more calories than running a marathon. Since I hate to run marathons, this is welcome news indeed!
According to the study (done by promotionalcodes.org.uk), a good spring cleaning burns 3,655 kcals, while a marathon burns 2,500 – 3,500. Yes, it will take you longer to do the cleaning than the running, but look on the bright side – you didn’t have to run. This is the breakdown:
Vacuuming (1 hour) 238 calories
Dusting (2 hours) 340 calories
Emptying, cleaning, repacking cupboards (4 hours) 952 calories
Scrubbing the floor (1 hour) 258 calories
Climbing up and down stairs (20 mins) 181 calories
Turning mattresses and making beds (1 hour) 136 calories
Moving heavy furniture (2 hours) 476 calories
Cleaning windows (3 hours) 612 calories
Cleaning external doors (1 hour) 204 calories
Deep clean bathrooms (1 hour) 258 calories
Quick math tells me that’s 16 hours of work. And I see no category for jumping onto the mattresses when you discover spiders lurking under the bed. I’m sure there’s a high calorie burn for that. I can testify that my heart rate was definitely in the “Working Very Hard” range.
Cleaning external doors isn’t my thing, though I do scrub down the area by the doorknobs. I’d also love to see the calorie count for scrubbing all the kitchen cabinets plus the stove hood and kitchen walls, mainly because I want credit for these chores. Does sweeping count as part of scrubbing?
So, who’s up for 20 minutes on the stairs? And who thinks this is good news? I know I’m excited, though I doubt I’ll pull on my Lorna Jane gear and put out a 16 hour house chore workout. And how many calories did I burn getting all the dog hairs off the mini-trampoline?
In case you’re interested, the links to the cleaning tools are in the pictures. These are not affiliate links; I get nothing if you click. I’m just making it easy for you.
The answer is always yes. It’s also “It depends.”
In the group thread I read lots of good advice for this frustrated woman, with people recommending various diets and types of workouts. Yet if we back away from the question, and ponder the underlying assumption, it’s possible she doesn’t need to make any big changes. If she wants to KEEP the weight off once it’s lost, she might just be right on track with her 1 to 1 1/2 pound weekly loss. I’ll make a leap of faith and assume keeping the weight off after her weight loss program is over is her longer-term goal. Which means losing 1 to 1.5 pounds per week might be best.
A few years ago we were asked whether it was safely possible to lose 10 pounds in 4 weeks, and we essentially said it’s reasonable, sustainable and realistic long-term to lose 1.5 – 2 pounds per week if you combine intense cardio with resistance training and a nutritious diet. Of course, that is hard for menopausal women, and our fitness pro colleague Tamara Grand has some spot-on suggestions and resources for staying the nutrition and fitness course once midlife changes everything!
In this post we wrote about the differences between losing weight and maintaining weight loss, you can see in the chart that to LOSE weight, reduced caloric intake is the easiest way for most people to achieve negative energy balance, while to KEEP it off, physical activity is the strategy to prevent weight regain.
As my sister points out in her post about choosing the “right” diet, it’s far easier for most people to cut out a 500-calorie drink than to exercise strenuously for about an hour.
So our advice to you (and the millions of other people with this same question) is to perhaps focus more on your intake than your output. Once you reach your weight goal, you can switch that around (to a point – the fluffy, puffy, whipped creamy coffee drinks are still an issue). If you want an in-depth explanation about what does and doesn’t work for fat loss, listen to our radio interview with Dr. James Hill, member of the NIH Expert Panel on Obesity, author of “State of Slim,” co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry, and co-founder of America on the Move, a national weight gain prevention initiative.
While I’m at it, I’ll throw in my occasional mantra, “Never give up. Never surrender.” It’s from a movie that cracks me up. [youtube]http://youtu.be/9fdcIwHKd_s[/youtube]
1) We have a giveaway ending in a few hours that you should enter. You could win either a Foot Note shoelace or bracelet motivational fitness charm from Momentum if you have a U.S. address, so head to our fan page right now!
2) As part of a campaign with Blue Diamond I did a twist on the traditional Dolly Bar recipe that incorporates their Toasted Coconut Almonds. Easy recipe. Quick to make. Delicious to eat.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
In our recent episode, Fat Burning for Women Over 50: Be on Fire, Dr. Len walked us through the sometimes confusing realities of killing off kilocalories. Once we appreciate the role carbohydrates and fat both serve in providing fuel, then we can understand how to select the “best” workout programs.
First, the goal is to have a caloric deficit to lose any weight. That deficit comes from the age old energy balance equation: take in fewer calories than we put out (eat less); put out more calories than we take in (move more). The entire weight loss picture is far more complex, affected by a myriad of other factors. For more on losing weight and fat, check out Burn a Myth to Burn More Calories (post) and Fat Loss; What Does and Doesn’t Work (radio episode) . Professional alert warning system activated – it’s not just about cals in and out, though you do have to start there!
Second, is that we break down carbohydrates 40 times faster than fat, with carbos supplying most of the fuel (energy) to power our exercise. Distinguish between absolute and relative numbers when thinking of fat loss. When you exercise with some intensity, you use a higher percentage of carbos compared to fat as the fuel source. However, the highest total of burned calories is what you are going for. For that, you need to suck it up and add some effort.
Higher intensity exercise burns more calories; however, a long, slow approach is better than what most of the adult population is doing — uh, as in better than not much or nuffink! But a workout with some oomph to it at a higher pace will use more total energy (calories) than the lower intensity plan. Absolutely!
So forget needing to be in a “fat burning zone” when making cardio equipment or fitness tech choices. Get in the calorie burning zone, which is also a high carbo burning zone.
Third, thanks to Dr. Len’s practical tips, you now get led into the exciting, proven, no-magic-required realm of the four best training programs to maximize calorie burning and become lower fat! He recommends we try all 4 methods.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Select a cardio activity you enjoy, such as cycling, running, walking, using a row machine. Go as hard as you can for about 30 seconds. Then recover at a self-selected, variable pace for about 3- 4 minutes. Complete 4-8 rounds for a total workout time of about 30-45 minutes. Dr. Len recommends changing up the mode workout to workout, especially if you have several favorite cardio activities.
And if you forget all this, simply recite the Kymberly mantra: “Go as hard as you can, as long as you can, as often as you can.” I hear the sizzle of calorie burning already!
You’ve just spent ten and a half months exercising and eating healthfully. Now Thanksgiving is a few days away, which signals the start of the “Eat Too Much; Move Too Little” time of year. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We all know we should stick to our healthy habits, yet it’s sooooo hard! So we’re sharing Seven Seasonal Suggestions to help you make it to January with your intentions intact.
1. Drink lots of water and green tea before the feast. You will feel full and less inclined to overeat.
2. Eat your usual breakfast and lunch. Don’t skip a meal thinking you will then be free to make up for lost calories when dinner is served. By the time that occurs, you’re likely to be so hungry that you’ll overeat or choose whatever is closest.
3. Sort foods into 3 categories:
Planning and paying attention have a definite effect on how much you pile on your plate.
4. Use a salad plate instead of dinner plate. You’ll be inclined to eat less. Most of us are visually triggered, so we stop adding food once our plate looks full, regardless of plate size.
5. Get up from the table when done. Do not sit with food in front of you once you’re done. Also, put food away right after you’ve finished dinner or you could end up eating an entire meal’s worth just from picking at the stuff that’s in front of you. If you feel you’re being impolite, just say, “I’m putting stuff in the fridge now so I don’t feel tempted to overeat. Anyone who’s still hungry is more than welcome to help themselves.” Not only are you letting people know why you’re putting food away quickly, you’re also making yourself accountable by stating your goal to not overeat.
6. Use your mind to decide what matters. When loading your plate, ask yourself this question: “Am I choosing this because I’m hungry or because it tastes good?” No right or wrong answer exists; it’s simply that the awareness of your choices will help you make a considered decision as you realize that you are in control, not the food.
7. Go for a walk. What better way to spend quality time with your family or friends than by putting on a jacket and getting outside? Need more motivation to move during the holidays? Give a listen to our radio episode, “Be Motivated to Move Through the Holidays.”
What tips would you add to this list?
Photo Credits: morgueFile
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
As Dr James Hill, Executive Director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, author of State of Slim, and leading world authority on obesity bluntly tells us “our lifestyles are killing us. Selling deprivation has not been successful.” Let’s face it; who wants to embark on a journey of calorie deprivation and lifelong struggles against temptation to keep fat at bay? Many launch; some arrive; few stay at the new destination. If you are on a weight loss or weight maintenance journey, we have news for you and you and you.
Dr. Hill and his colleagues point to three decades of what does NOT work to lose and keep off excess weight:
After attending sessions at the recent FitSocial conference keynoted by Dr. Hill, we want to share with you strategies he has proven WILL work. These strategies are evidence-based, peer-reviewed, and thoroughly researched. No gimmicks, no quick buck to make: no random anecdotes. If you go through the suggestions quickly they seem usual and obvious. If you put them into a context you notice they have twists to former “truths.”
Did you catch our post on ways to successfully make permanent lifestyle changes? If nothing else, remember this young grasshoppers (and fellow baby boomers!): Willingness, NOT Willpower is the Key!
A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: This morning Alexandra and I got our baby boomer booties up and out early to power walk with our dogs. What motivated us? Three things: we wanted to beat the heat; Alexandra had a class to teach after which she was heading to LA for the day; and we wanted to mull over a question we get asked by our group fitness participants:
(In a peek behind the scenes of fitness questions that come our way, we also get asked about exercises to prevent droopy boobs. Yes, it was worded just like that. We loved that question too).
Back to the best movement routine to start your day — Any guesses? Bueller? Bueller? For a million or few calories, the answer is … the one, or two, or however many you will actually do. All the studies and recommendations in the world won’t matter unless you actually get up and giddy up. In the real world (the one where Alexandra and I often reside), people will stick with what they enjoy. And they will run down faster than black mascara after a sweat fest from un-fun activities.
Still, some suggestions are in order. But first, let’s address the implied assumption in this question:
Interestingly, research is all over the place when it comes to determining a “best” time to exercise. One study found that physical activity performance was generally improved in the afternoon or evening, compared with morning. Another study suggests that exercisers best combat weight gain from high calorie, fat rich diets if they work out before eating, specifically “before breaking fast.” Other variants exist, but what does come out clearly is that consistency is key. Especially for high-intensity exercisers, whatever time you choose to do whatever routine you like to do, try to do it around the same time each day. Got that? Whether morning, noon, or night, you may reach your workout goals best if you stick with your preferred time. Whew!
Alexandra: I like to walk in the morning, before it gets too hot and before the black flies come out (yes, Santa Barbara has flaws). I’ve found that my regular morning routine consists of waking up around 6:30 (which I hate, but I’m a light sleeper), then going through the messages & emails on my phone while lying in bed. So I don’t actually get up until 7:30 or so. What a waste of the morning! So if I prep my clothes the night before, and ask my son to come get me, I know I’ll go. I’m back in the house by 8, happy and full of energy.
Kymberly: If your workout time is the morning, can you benefit more from a specific type of exercise? Whether you walk, swim, ride, jog, mosey, lift weights, shuffle, do a yoga pose, or dance routine — you are best served to
That’s it. Really. Ok, not really since you will find more on the subject of “what’s best” in the following posts, which we suggest you click on. Then lord it over your workout buddies that you know only the best.
For instance, want to know the best cardio workout? Or which is better–jogging in place or running through space?
Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference, or to write your blog posts. Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email email@example.com.
Morning, noon or night, it’s never too late to subscribe to our fitness-related YouTube channel. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.
The answer is quite simple at first glance, yet in practice deceptively difficult. For years I’ve told my students “the closer to the ground the better,” yet many of them found this answer confusing, and over the years it’s required more explanation (yes, kind of sad).
First off, I’m not a nutritionist or dietitian (although I can spell “dietitian” without looking it up). What I am is a good researcher and writer, including this list of articles about food and health that I’ve written. I’m also a good eater and all-around healthy person.
I’m tempted to say that the answer to the healthy food question is, “It depends,” but that’s probably due to my counseling studies, when I learned that it’s the answer to most questions! My new response is to answer with my own question: “Does it (the food) help or harm your body?” For example, I have a friend right now who’s pregnant and dealing with gastroparesis. She cannot eat veggies without getting quite ill. She can, however, keep down sno-cones and pierogies. For her, leafy veggies are unhealthy.
For my sister, it’s possible that she is now allergic to some foods that were perfectly fine for her for decades. As identical twins, we are usually quite similar in our medical issues, so I’m curious to see what she discovers as she eliminates, then reintroduces, certain foods. Kind of a canary in the coal mine thing. She is the canary in this scenario. At present, she is testing out a wheat-free diet. We wrote about some of the research for and against in our post “Is Wheat-Free Better for You.” Bottom line: Eat whole grains. Stay away from genetically modified organisms.
For many of my women friends, a glass of red wine in the evening is possibly a heart-healthy dose of resveratrol. But for me, it’s just a drink that makes me turn red and get a headache. Other friends need to live by a gluten-free diet, while some thrive on organic whole grains.
Vegan, vegetarian, paleo, GF, clean eating, pescatarian, omnivore, high-carb, low-carb, restricted-calorie, intuitive, timed – the list of eating categories goes on and on. And every single one of these eating styles is healthy – for someone.
So I think my new answer is a good one. If it helps your body (chemical cravings for Ben & Jerry’s “Americone Dream” don’t count), then it’s probably healthy for you. If it harms, then why would you eat it? Rather than give advice, I’ll share what works for me.
* Whole grains
* Organic or at least pesticide-free
* Cooking & baking from scratch
* Few processed, packaged foods
* No soda, energy drinks, or high-sugar drinks
* No meat
* All ingredients are recognizable and pronounceable
* If it shouldn’t go in my (or my kids’) mouth, it doesn’t come into the house
* Reading research and books. At present I am reading “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition” by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and I love anything by Michael Pollan (did you know he’s Michael J. Fox’s bro-in-law?)
In a further spirit of sharing, I’m also going to give away a $100 gift card from Bob’s Red Mill. I wholeheartedly endorse their tagline “Whole Grain Foods for Every Meal of the Day.”
Reasons you should love this company:
* Their mission is to bring good, healthy foods to as many people as possible
* They have given millions of dollars to support healthy nutrition and wellness, and address the issue of pediatric obesity
* Owners Bob and Charlee Moore gave the company to the employees in 2010
* They sell a complete range of whole-grain food products (not foodlike substances), including organic, gluten free, non-GMO, and kosher
* Their prices are extremely fair (example: $5.79 for 5 pounds of organic white whole wheat flour, compared to $8.95 from their closest competitor)
* The food is delicious
So what will you choose if you win the $100 gift card?
* Flours & Meals
* Grains, Beans & Seeds
* Gluten Free
* Baking Aids
The SuperFine print: This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents. Yes, my Canadian friends, you are included!!!! That is just how generous Bob’s Red Mill is. The winner will be chosen on Monday, August 5th at midnight PST. We will notify the winner via email and other social media forums. If that person doesn’t respond within 48 hours, we will choose another winner.
This is a truly amazing gift, so you will want to do all the amazing entry options.
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