1. No-one else is at the gym. People are all out shopping and eating on the run, which means you can run on the treadmills and ellipticals without having to wait. And the gym trainers will be more available to help you figure out how those totally confusing computer programs work on the machines. Yeah, I’ve been teaching for over 25 years, but still do not know how to program the cursed treadmills. Damn things buck me off every time – video to prove it! * * (Stay posted for that video in a future post)
2. It’s cold in December. Exercise makes you warm. Just ask our friend Scott over at Your Inner Skinny. He lives in the part of Canada that no-one goes to on purpose, and it’s currently -42C, which is something like -3,956 in Fahrenheit. So get moving, you’ll warm up. Hug sweaty Canadians! Then steal their down parkas.
3. It’s the gifting season, and what better gift is there than making yourself healthier, which means you’ll probably live longer, and your kids will have you around for a long time, and you’ll be able to do stuff with them without getting exhausted, and your insurance will cost less, and you’ll feel and look better and you’ll get so strong and energetic that you’ll have the strength to read this very long, “make your high school English teacher crazy” run-on sentence.
4. Your stress levels will go down. Yup, exercise reduces stress. Even if you’re “downright out of shape,” as this Mayo Clinic article states. Holiday Season = Stress Hits the Up Elevator. Exercise = Stress Hits the Down Elevator. So basically, if you are a fan of higher math like I am, that means December will be just as relaxing as the beach in July once you start exercising.
5. You can get a good spot in the group exercise classes before the New Year’s crowd gets in the room. And everyone is in a festive mood, so they’ll be even more welcoming than usual. Instructor ad right here – professional group fitness instructors are always welcoming, and they set a good example for “their” students, so in truth you’ll be welcomed year-round. But they’ll share their eggnog and smile when they ask your name in December.
6. You will avoid the somewhat unrealistic (cough, cough) expectation that you can get fit on the morning of December 31st in time for the evening’s party. Much more realistic (as in “not really”) is to start a wee bit sooner. Since you can safely sustain a weight loss of 1 ½ to 2 pounds per week, if you start today you will be about 6 or 7 pounds lighter by New Year’s. If you’re thinking, “Hey, my goal is 35 pounds. What good is 6 or 7,” my answer is this – you’ll be 1/6th (oh, crap, math again. Yes, I estimated) of the way there. But, your outlook and how you feel will be 75% of the way there, because research (our BFF) says that you will start to view yourself as an exerciser, which means your habits will change to meet that self-image. In straight-talk, that means you’ll feel like a total hottie at the party. That is way cool!
7. You will save money. You will have more energy. You will look better. You will feel better. You will meet a lot of cool people. Your math skills will improve. You’ll get an end of year tax deduction…One of these may be false. Hint: Exercise makes you smarter, so it’s actually quite possible your math skills will improve. For example, I was going to write 10 Reasons, but got bogged down when I carried the 1, multiplied the 0, subtracted the junk food, added the Lycra and Voila!!!, ended up with 7 Reasons!
Remember December as the month you did the Zoom Zoom for your Boom Boom! If you come to Santa Barbara, we’ll even let you into our classes for free!
Dear Reader: What reason to start exercising now would you add to this list?
Kymberly: Whether it’s the holidays or the day you were late to work because the cat barfed on your pillow (Alexandra does not want to talk about it), a sustainable lifestyle has to be within reasonable limits or you won’t be successful. Diets are generally excessive or extreme.
Alexandra: Being told that a “cheat” day is bad or good is not the point. That whole concept implies punishment and reward. Keep in mind that the extreme end of dieting is disordered eating; the “end” of moderation is healthy living. Posted here are some pictures of the things I bake. We aren’t special or unique (well, I am); we just tend toward moderation. As our friend Nora said, “If I only get sausage stuffing once a year, I REALLY want that sausage stuffing.” Exactly. Why feel bad about yourself for that?
So, yes, I love to bake. Some of the results I eat; some I give away. Most of it goes to the kids and their friends. Next up: Challah bread. Can you tell I love bread?
K: Can you tell I do NOT overdo it, especially with carbo baking. My favorite holiday food is yams (no marshmallows, I’d like to point out). And turkey. Oh, and I love cranberry sauce too. And stuffing, but it has to be my mom’s stuffing or the day does not feel complete. I know you know what I mean.
K and A: Have a wonderful holiday. We’d love for you to share your favorite holiday food pictures on our Facebook page. I need a good sweet potato recipe to bring on Thursday – NOT with marshmallows.
And don’t forget to take those after-meal walks!
Kymberly: I love the holidays; I also love holiday food; but I hate getting lethargic and overstuffed, just because more food and family than usual are around. Is this the time to say, do not gobble gobble gobble up everything you see before you?
Alexandra: Drink lots of water and green tea before the feast. You will feel full and less inclined to overeat.
K: Eat your usual breakfast and lunch. Don’t skip a meal thinking you will then be free to make up for lost calories later when the “good stuff” your favorite auntie brought comes out. Inevitably you will be so hungry come THE meal that you will overeat or choose whatever is closest.
A: Categorize foods into 1) love and will eat seconds 2) like and will take a little just once 3) don’t need to eat at all. This kind of planning will help you make plate choices and make you more conscious of those choices. Paying attention has a definite effect on how much you pile on that plate.
K: Get up from the table when done. Do not sit with food in front of you calling your name á la “Little Shop of Horrors.” And don’t leave food just sitting out. You can end up eating an entire meal’s worth just from picking at the stuff that’s in front of you. Put it away right after the meal (or at least as soon as is politely possible). Your guests will actually probably thank you. Ok, maybe thank you.
A: If you’re a person who likes to talk to herself (like I do), just ask yourself this when you’re filling your plate, “Am I choosing this because I’m hungry or because it tastes good?” We aren’t here to say you “shouldn’t” this or “should” that, but the awareness is quite helpful.
K: Why not go for a walk? What better way to spend quality time with your favorite rellies or friends than by putting on a jacket and getting outside? No stuffing holiday snackerels into your pocket on that walk, either!
A: I hate to admit it, but I take Kymberly’s advice. Every year my “baking” sister (NOT K) and I get up early and go for a walk, just the two of us. We get some girl-talk time (we love to discuss recipes) before we both get in the kitchen for the cooking chaos!
Readers: What tips do you have to share?
Photo credits: Creative Commons: David Boyle
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly:Thirty minutes of exercise times thirty years of a hiatus equals = eat breakfast! Yes, eating relative to exercise really matters. Breaking a fast also matters. Science says many things (So does my sister. Have you heard our radio show?): “eat first so you have energy to maintain intensity;” “eat at least 4 hours’ prior to exercise,” which means getting up at an hour known only to nocturnal animals, graveyard shift workers, and vampires (the “real” ones as in “Twilight”, not the fake ones elsewhere); “eat after working out when your metabolism is revved up and digests food better.” What’s a person to do? Call FunandFitBusters (well, we are not busters per se, but sisters).
What it comes down to is what works best for your body? Do you feel more energized and ready to work out when you have some brekkie in you or do you feel weighed down and lethargic if you eat first? Who cares what statistics and general averages say when your body is having a different conversation. For me, I have to eat first or I drag and feel lightheaded. For you, it sounds as though you should keep up the (ahem, healthy) eating then attack the day in a fitnessy way.
Alexandra: I was laughing because when I first read your question I thought you were asking if we thought you should give up eating! Hahahaha. No. Just give up eating fake food. Anything covered in sprinkles or glaze is probably fake food! To cheer you up, here is a post we did that gives you some food suggestions.
K: More good news– you do not even have to give up wake-up coffee as it has beneficial properties. You might have to give up your record of 30 years’ avoiding gasp! exercise. But then you might also give up the extra weight and health risks. Woo hoo![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4xNrSbw5Iw[/youtube] [plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
When Kymberly wasn’t in classes, and Alexandra wasn’t doing editorial duties for IDEA Fitness Journal, they got together in the Expo Hall to find all the Funnerist and Fittliest tools, gadgets, machines, programs, snacks and mouth-watering beverages! And now we share some of them with you! (By “share” we mean we didn’t save you any).
First up was a stop at the Sproing booth. We will not explain this; we will let the video be your guide! However, we will say Kymberly particularly loved being able to run again since her two knee surgeries years ago. Sproing’s tagline is “Soft is the New Hard,” which relates to the soft and cushy pad you walk, jog, run, lunge, jump, and SPROING on. Wheee! Thanks Sproing; now try to catch us![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3CuzJZkVgE[/youtube]
Have you tried Chobani Greek Yogurt yet? No pictures because we were too busy eating the samples. Greek yogurt is the latest recommended food for protein lovers! We can say from personal experience that Chobani works well in smoothies too! Just turn your blender to “power up” mode. Lemon, Pomegranate, Blueberry, Raspberry, Vanilla and more, more, more.
At the PopChips booth, they were giving away bags of their new flavors. If you had a hard time deciding, they gave you one of each. We were stars! But what the heck is with that pink tint on our faces? A secret PopChips ingredient?
We wanted a tasty beverage treat to go with our lunch (that’s the way we describe the free samples), and guess what?! You won’t believe it when we tell you! We found the FitFrappe booth. Why is that such exciting news (besides the fact that every single flavor was super delicious)? Because the day we left for the convention we received notice from Klout Perks that we were going to receive a FitFrappe sample package in the mail! Jeepers. Just in time for our birthday (it’s not too late for you to send gifts). Here we are, frapping it up with our pal Jim Wendt (do you see the look of fear in his eyes? I think we both goosed him simultaneously – twin sandwich).
What would you do if you got to meet a multi-platinum, Grammy-winning, totally smokin’ hot music producer & composer? Well, who cares, because here’s what we did when we met Kike Santander, the man behind Batuka, one of the absolute most funster, fitnessy workouts we’ve ever almost sweated to! Click on that link and check out the dancing AND the “Listen to the Music” button. Then come back to us as we are heading to Batuka training in November.
Lest you think only Alexandra tries the actual workouts (check out our Fun and Fit Facebook posts that show her sliding down the Strip Tease X-Pert Pole Dancing pole), rumors are true that Kymberly managed both a FreeMotion Rip:60 body weight workout AND a class using the CoreFitnessRoller. FreeMotionFitness Education Manager, Natalie, gave Kymberly a one-on-one session that worked all major muscles in under 20 minutes. Kymberly’s glasses stayed on and some cals came off!
Next stop, the CoreFitnessRoller booth, where our friend and fellow Santa Barbarian, Darya Bronston debuted her invention that incorporates the best of the foam roller, tubing resistance, balance, and cute helper boys. We dare you to balance on the CoreFitness Roller, work your core, and smile at the crowd all at once!
See what fun stuff lies ahead for you? Workouts and healthy food, here we come. Now that we are so fit and all……
Readers and Eaters: What new products and training programs do you plan to try this fall?
Photos courtesy of Kymberly, Alexandra, and anyone we corralled at the IDEA Expo.[plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
At the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention, we met Steve Nicander, who has followed keynote speaker, Dr. Daniel Amen’s program to improve his brain and body. Who is Steve, you wonder? A remarkable man who made a decision that would keep him alive. To do this, he had to shed several people…sort of. He shed enough weight to total several people!
A few short years ago, Steve weighed just below 650 pounds! That is not a typo – he weighed just under SIX HUNDRED FIFTY pounds!
No, he was NOT comfortable. Nor was he happy. He was suicidal and depressed. But….Steve is a determined cuss. After a trip to the hospital, he made a decision to turn his life around – back toward life and away from the death he knew was near. At the start, he couldn’t even get out of his chair. So he moved his feet and legs. Eventually he lost 175 pounds! Once he could stand, he started walking, then bike riding. Steve has lost over 370 pounds and is still losing weight and gaining muscle strength. We’ll let him tell and show you right here:
So, what do you think? Could you do what Steve did? What if your life depended on it? And did you even know that a person could have 50 pounds worth of skin?
Here is the Summer of 2011 Steve:
If you want to know more about Steve, and follow him in his journey, check out his site. Be inspired. Get moving.
Photo Credits: Steve Nicander
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra: The brain is linked so strongly to what you eat and how much you move that its size, shape and function actually change. As your weight goes up, your brain size goes down. You do NOT want to become a victim of Dinosaur Syndrome – big body, little brain = extinct! Sadly, the brains of obese people look 16 years older in scans than they are. And Dr. Amen showed a picture of a very healthy 82 year-old brain, so age does not guarantee brain deterioration.
Kymberly: However, having a birthday this weekend guarantees age! Only 6 more shopping days until twinnie’s birthday. I hope she gets some new dendrites, ganglia, and neurotransmitters for her big day.
Having read 6 of Dr. Amen’s books, I developed serious brain envy, so for my birthday I plan to work out and eat healthfully. Right after the small piece of chocolate cake. I want to do what it takes to stave off any mental decline and have the heaviest, most active brain possible into my 90s and beyond! My real birthday wish is for you all to have the same!
A: The mind controls the body, not the other way round. It’s your brain that tells you it’s okay to eat a second helping of ice cream, and it’s also your brain that tells you to push away from the table. So here are some tips to help you put your brain consciously in control:
K: So, does your lifestyle enhance your brain power or detract from it? Remember, the choices you make today affect your brain TODAY and into the future. Hey, if my brain is the ultimate controller, why does Alexandra keep saying she’s in charge?
Dear readers: This seems like a perfect moment to direct you to our e-book/quotes that help you stay motivated and on track.
Dino photo: Creative Commons[plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
Guest post by Shannon Hammer
I came by my extra 100 pounds honestly—too much bad food and too little exercise. Early in my life, I’d developed a “diet/binge” pattern, meaning I’d go on the latest fad diet until I couldn’t stand it anymore and then break out in a binge, consuming every “forbidden” high-fat, high-calorie, and just-plain-bad-for-you food as quickly as possible. In addition, I got no exercise whatsoever. I sat in front of a computer by day and then in front of the TV at night.
After I saw that photo, I started doing two simple things that literally changed my life: I started writing down my food and I began exercising. Keeping a food journal empowered me to plan healthy, balanced meals and curb impulsive eating. I stopped eating the food I was addicted to—mainly sugar and flour—and started eating healthy protein, complex carbohydrates and vegetables.
At 230 pounds, my ankles hurt when I walked across my small apartment so I needed to find an activity that I (1) liked and (2) could do safely. Walking turned into my perfect exercise. Every day after work, I’d put on my headphones, turn up my favorite music, and head out the door. At first I could walk for 20 minutes before I had to head home, sweaty and exhausted. Before long, my legs grew stronger and I could walk longer and faster. After awhile I added ankle weights to make my daily walks more challenging. The weight started coming off, I had more energy, and I just felt overall happier.
I also got bored. Walking—even with ankle weights and fun music—just got too easy. I needed more of a challenge. The problem was I didn’t have the time, money, or confidence to join a gym. The perfect solution turned out to be exercise videos. They were affordable—I could even rent them at my local video store—as well as being private and fun. Videos allowed me to fit exercise into my schedule, stay motivated by providing a wide selection of workout types and levels, and create a balanced routine that incorporated strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular benefits. In addition, I was able to customize workouts to fit my needs; I could fast-forward or rewind through sections (to add extra cardio or abdominal work, for example), do a partial workout if I ran out of time, and multi-task by washing clothes or running the dishwasher while I exercised.
By keeping a food journal and exercising five to six days a week, over a three-year period, I lost over 100 pounds. In 2004 I felt comfortable enough to join a gym, where I still work out six days a week, participating in group classes and lifting weights. Last year I realized I needed to focus more on flexibility, so I added yoga to my routine—the kind of yoga that’s done in a 105-degree studio!
Even though I’ve been maintaining my weight loss for almost eight years, I still write down my food every day. It helps me maintain my weight loss and keeps me accountable so I don’t slip back into old patterns. Several years ago, I got tired of writing down my food in notebooks and Post-It Notes. I wanted a journal that would allow me keep my food plan in one place and also provide daily inspirations to keep me motivated. I looked everywhere and couldn’t find it—the book I wanted didn’t exist. So I figured I’d write it! That book became The Positive Portions Food & Fitness Journal, which was published in 2009.
My life has so completely transformed since that awful January day ten years ago. I now wear a size six instead of a size twenty-four. I went back to college and earned my Bachelor’s Degree, graduating with a 4.0 GPA. I work at a job I love. In 2007 I married the man of my dreams (who’s never seen me fat but he has seen the pictures). I never dreamed my life could be this good.
Adored Readers who are Overweight, Underweight, On-Targetweight: Shannon would love to hear from you and have you visit her site. If you are in Redondo Beach, join her for a workout!
More about Shannon:
Location: Redondo Beach, CA
Occupation: Editor in chief of seven national magazines for a global automotive brand and author of The Positive Portions Food & Fitness Journal (Fairview Press)
Current weight: 123—125 lbs.
Height: 5’5 1/2
Highest weight ever: 230 lbs.
Last date at this highest weight: 2001
Guest post from Suzanne Andrews
I developed bursitis in my hips creating an inflammation so severe that I couldn’t walk without flinching. I suffered through two miscarriages and eventual gall bladder surgery. My condition had gotten so severe I couldn’t even play with my newborn without becoming winded. Exercise was out of the question. I could barely see my toes; being able to touch them was a fantasy.
Every day was another dose of my harsh reality. Commuting to work on the bus was a humiliating experience, as I had to endure the cruel snickers when I couldn’t fit into the seat. My wake-up call came two years later, at my son’s birthday party. When I saw the videotape of the celebration, I didn’t even recognize myself. Staring me in the face, right there on the screen was the reason my hips and back ached so terribly. I had enough. It was time for a change.
A guest panelist and psychologist on the CBS Geraldo show where I worked, told me meditation could help. I was skeptical, but desperate to try anything that would make me feel whole again. I needed to be there for my son. At first I didn’t understand how a sedentary activity like meditation could help me to lose weight. It was not long before I discovered the secret—during meditation your mind is the CEO and your body the dutiful employee. You tell your body what it needs to do and it follows suit.
The ritual of meditation was the spark that jump-started my weight loss plan. I felt energized to exercise daily, choose healthier options and control my portion sizes. The meditation motivated me in ways I never thought imaginable, helping me lose the excuses and get on the track to better health. I started with gentle yoga combined with low impact exercises, which not only helped me to start shedding pounds, but also made my day-to-day tasks more manageable.
Meditation saved my life and prevented my son from becoming motherless at 10 years old. I credit my success to the incorporation of mind, body and spirit that meditation encourages. The same breathing techniques that controlled my appetite and regulated my stress also helped encourage me to exercise enough to develop my lungs and give them power. It was those same healthy, powerful lungs that delivered me from the brink of death when a medical miscalculation caused my heart to stop on an operating table. As doctors frantically fought to revive my lifeless body with CPR, my body started to shut down, turning my lips, hands and feet a chilling blue. Near death, I was transported by ambulance to the intensive care unit. My body was on the verge of giving up. My kidneys shut down and my veins constricted so tightly that doctors could not administer a lifesaving intravenous line.
My body and my spirit were determined to live. I would not die; I would live; I would see my son again. I started to meditate. After five minutes of willing myself to survive and using my meditation skills, my body started its journey back from the edge. My kidneys started functioning again. My pulse strengthened and my veins opened up. Later, my cardiologist would proclaim in amazement, “I’m an Indian doctor and my patient is teaching me how great meditation is!”
After that near death experience, I had a renewed sense of purpose: motivate others and help those struggling with weight find their purpose. My weight could have been a death sentence, but meditation and determination were my pardon. I went from being introverted and soft spoken to a confident, capable and dynamic woman ready to embrace life.
Dear Readers: Join 45 million in the PBS family and catch Suzanne in action on her PBS tv show, Functional Fitness. If her show does not air in your area, get bizzzeeee and email and request that they broadcast the show where you can work out with her. To learn more about Suzanne’s program, Functional Fitness; to work out with doctor-recommended DVDs; and to see a free preview go to www.healthwiseexercise.com
She says you are also welcome to email her at email@example.com. How friendly is that from a tv star?
My head was full of thoughts, yet none of them interesting or suitable for a site about health and exercise. Too distracted, I guess. By the fact that my sister’s beloved father-in-law is living his last few days; that my elder son is leaving town for two weeks and my younger son for 4 or 5 days; that my mom needs a realistic plan for her future as she ages; by the distance or circumstances that can separate us from those we love; that I won’t see my beloved niece for a long time; and by the chores and bills that always seem to be just a bit more than I can keep up with.
Then it came to me that I am good at coping and being responsible. Cranky sometimes and impatient, yet good overall. Just like you! And being healthy and fit helps me stay optimistic and energetic. So here’s my list of things I can do because I have good health and am fit:
* stay up past 1:00 a.m. then wake up at 6:30 to make waffles for my kids
* have push-up contests with my teen boys and impress them (I even win sometimes)
* wear the same clothes I’ve owned for years as my size is consistent
* feel attractive and sexy (okay, not every day) even though I’m a mom of teens, not a 30-year-old hottie
* teach strength training and cardio to university students, then smile to myself when they realize I have way more energy and stamina than they do
* go for long walks with my sister and not worry about making it back to the car
* eat Rocky Road ice cream on occasion and not stress out about it
* volunteer at my place of worship
* clean the kitchen every dang day, even though I’m not always the one who messed it
* meet up with friends I haven’t seen in years and not worry that they’ll be thinking “What happened to her?”
* stick up for myself, because no-one messes with me
* plan for a really long future (you know – travel, visit my kids and overstay my welcome, watch the grandkids and give them back when they need changing or get fussy, get a call from the President on my 100th birthday – that kind of future)
* be independent (or at least have the illusion, considering I have two
* feel successful
* run like heck or fight back if someone tries to grab my purse
* wake up every single day ready to do it all over again
What things can you do, thanks to your good health? What can
Brown Fitness do for you?
Photo credits: Creative Commons (cultivatechi.com)