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Knee Problems: How Do I Protect My Knees?

Dear K and A: Are there knee exercises to reduce knee problems? How do I protect my knees when participating in aerobics classes or walking down stairs? I want to stay active as I go through midlife yet even have knee pain when walking. Midlife Mindy, Santa Barbara, CA

have knee problems or knee pain? Alexandra: Hi Mindy. The best protection is to take them off and put them in a gym bag while doing those intense activities. If your knees are still in their original packaging, this might be a challenge, so you should just give them a light buff and wax. That will protect them for sure, although Fun and Fit do not offer the extended warranty. And you are on your own if your knees get any scratches. Would you like me to go into detail about strengthening up and stretching the muscles that support your slacker knees, including the much-forgotten VMO? No, that is not an insurance plan, that is the Vastus Medialis Obliquus, and yes, it is spelled like that.

Famous Movie Parts for Moving Parts

Do you recall the character played by Michael Palin in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” – and his friend Biggus Dickus? That, too, is spelled correctly, but is an entirely different issue. No body part with Latin in its description (that would apply to er, um, well, all of them) should have to live in pain. It’s all about balance.

Knee Strengthening Exercises Need to Include GLUTES

Kymberly: Well, Mindy since you are asking a serious question, you deserve a serious answer. And, well…, how shall I put this. Fun and Fit is known for going on larks. But for YOU, we’ll pretend for a minute to be on point. Strengthen your quads. Perhaps even more important, strengthen and activate your glutes! Do the same for your inner thighs and hamstrings so you stay balanced muscularly. Strengthen your anterior tibialis (shins) while you’re at it. Why not since we’re on a workout roll?! Keep your knees tracking in line with your upper leg and lower leg, No turning your feet one way when your knees are pointing in another. And no turning your knees one way when your pelvic structure dictates something different. Got a compass so you can keep up with me and your top dog, top of the org chart pelvic structure?

Have knee pain? Been told to strengthen your quads? Surprise! Another muscle group may be more… Click To Tweet

The evidence that having activated, strong, balanced glutes to help with knee pain is growing.  Some medical professionals now advise that the gluteals play a bigger role than the quadriceps in affecting knee problems.

Knee Pain Program

Knee Strengthening Exercises and Movement Tips

When doing choreography that locomotes you forward or going down stairs, try to keep your knee above or behind your toes. Beware of all that forward and downward motion pushing your knees too far in front of your body and past the vertical plane of your feet. Otherwise you are putting a lot of pressure on the poor little kneecaps. Translation = knee pain.  Also take a look at the exercises and solutions shown in the program “Fix My Knee Pain,” created by a colleague and qualified fitness pro we know and trust.  For instance, did you know that tucking your feet under your seat when sitting (say, at a computer reading a great post like this one!) actually stresses your knee joints? Instead, extend your legs in front of you under your desk.  This post gives you more ideas on how to address knee problems: Solving Knee Pain: What Is and Isn’t Working

Alexandra: Why don’t you just hire a proxy to do your cardio and stair activities? Save your knees for parties (the tried and true “barf in a plant” maneuver) and asking forgiveness.

Got knee problems? Strengthen the glutes. quads, and your expression!

How are those knees holding up? Ouch! Activate your glutes, quads, and strong facial expressions.

Knights Who Say “Knee”

Kymberly: You know, I have to agree with Alexandra. All this serious advice leaves me out of humor. Where are Monty Python, Michael Palin and Biggus Dickus when I “kneed” them?  Pfft, well in their absence, console yourself with other posts we have provided to knee pain sufferers:

Can’t Run or Jump?

Knee Pain: Just Say No … Didn’t Work

Got Bad Knees? Step Lively Once Again

Do your knees ever hurt after exercise? What activities have you altered because of knee pain? Do you know any fun Latin phrases?
ACTION: Take a look at this program, Fix My Knee Pain if you are truly motivated to reduce knee problems and move pain-free. Yes, this is an affiliate link, which we chose because we know the trainer, trust him, and have used his program ourselves. This program has LOADS of exercises you can start doing at home, now.
INACTION: What happens if you don’t take our professional, perfeshunul advice and push too hard despite pain? In this post about knee surgery, read what Alexandra’s poor, long-suffering knee had to undergo last week after years of action and bone on bone.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA







How to Increase Metabolism: Stretching? Cardio? Strength Training?

Alexandra, Dr Hill, stretching, piggy back, how to increase metabolism

Alexandra demos how to stretch while boosting metabolism (not hers, his!)

Dear K and A: How to increase metabolism? How?! I’ve been told that stretching after a workout of strength training boosts your metabolic rate. If that’s true, how long should I stretch to get the good stuff going? In all the years I’ve been going to the gym, I’ve never seen anyone stretch after lifting.  Mary, Holland, MI

Can stretching increase metabolism

Stretch Your Muscles For the Good Stuff

Alexandra: Ah, Mary Mary Mary, you have inadvertently asked several questions!

  1. How to speed up your metabolism, especially for women over 50.
  2. What’s the relationship between stretching and strength training?
  3. Is stretching post workout the best way to increase metabolic rate?

Let’s tackle these questions separately.

Stretching is excellent post-workout (not pre-workout) as it:

  • increases range of motion about a joint or group of joints
  • may elicit positive long-term performance outcomes
  • enhances flexibility (intrinsic property of muscles and joints to go through full or optimal range of motion
  • is an effective intervention for prevention of falls
  • assists in more effective performance of daily living activities

Sources: Thacker et al. 2004; Safran et al. 1988; Woods, Bishop & Jones 2007; Kerrigan et al. 2001; and Misner et al. 1992.

What's the relationship between stretching and strength training? Click To Tweet

That is my diplomatic way of saying that stretching after your workout makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise, but doesn’t have a link to an increased metabolic rate. So how to increase metabolism? Not via stretching. You speed up your metabolic rate by following the suggestions in this post: How Can I Speed Up My Metabolism?

How can you speed up your metabolism, especially if you're a woman over 50? Click To Tweet

I am going to make a wild leap into the Abyss of Assumption here, and say you are looking to burn calories at a higher rate for a longer time? If so, read How Do I Lose Weight but not Bulk Up . It will show how smart you are for doing strength training!

Leap for health and metabolic boost

Leaping Across the Abyss of Assumptions

Kymberly: More good news about boosting your metabolic rate with exercise:  Women who do 40 minutes of cardio exercise at 80 percent of maximum heart rate (fairly intense but not exceedingly so) increase their caloric expenditure for the next 19 hours.  So both weight training AND cardio workouts metabolically zoom you up afterward. Sort of the caffeine of the workout world, eh? Whoa doggies, that’s pretty exciting stuff!

Alexandra: Is it possible you heard the water-cooler discussions about high-intensity interval training, increased metabolic rate and stretching? If so, that is referring to the recovery or “corrective” stretching that comes between short, intense bursts of cardio activity. But that’s not strength training, and the metabolic effect is from the cardio bursts.

Alexandra planking at Lizard's Mouth

Alexandra Looks into the Abyss and Likes What She Sees

Kymberly: As to why people do not stretch after weight training, we can only surmise that it’s lack of education sometimes disguised in their minds as lack of time. Saying they’re “flexibility losers” is just not in us. We can say we found nada, zip, bupkus about stretching helping metabolic rate. (Actually I can say Alexandra found nothing as she did all the research work this time around. Go twin sissie! I was busy watching soccer on tv. And the players did stretch afterwards. Go soccer!) We do advocate relengthening muscles shortened in training. And we’ve covered how to increase metabolic rate post workout. That’s a wrap here at F and F!

Alexandra: I think I’ll just get bossy and tell you to keep stretching cuz it’s good for ya, and keep at the strength training for the same reason.

Kymberly: Lastly, check out our post Stretch Before or After Running, Walking, Fighting?. Then when you do your stretches post-workout, stare at the others as if you are superior and know something they don’t …cuz’ it’s probably true.

ACTION: Subscribe (and strength train a wee bit) if you have not already. Click this link to see what awaits you on the other side. Hint: It’s a bonus that will help you be more capable, confident, and comfortable in your own body. 

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA




Best Workouts to Burn Fat For Women Over 50

Be Low Fat or Burn Fat?

Alexandra in rain, burn fat, use calories

Secret to Fat Burning: Run Up Hill. Let Rain Rinse off Fat Sweat. Walk Down Hill. Have a Beer. No, Don’t. Water Bottle is Best.

Do you have a goal to be lower fat? Did you know you don’t have to burn fat predominantly in order to lose fat? Whoa. What just happened there??!! Stick with us to get the most accurate fat burning advice directly and subcutaneously!

Let’s walk 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.

But first, when speaking of “the best” programs, we have to mention our recently created “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50.” (Go for it — click that link!)  Even if you’re carrying extra ell-bees around the middle, you can still achieve a strong core. Why not feel more confident, capable, and comfortable in your body as you burn fat and gain amazo abs? Read more here as well: Get Ultimate Abs (Better Yet, A Strong Core)  Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50 - binder image

And, we’re back …. Stick with us to the end where you’ll get 4 fat burning programs to try.

Go Into Deficit to Win as a Loser

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 To Burn Fat, Do I Go Faster or Slower?  Professional alert warning system activated — it’s not just about cals in and out, though you do have to start there! (Then continue with this post on another surprising factor that affects weight: Is Stress Making You Fat? )

Carbs vs Fats, Welcome the Relatives; Count the Absolutes

Second, is that we break down carbohydrates 40 times faster than fat, with carbs 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 carbohydrates 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.

picture from Pound workout

Drum that Fat Off Your Body with a Sweaty Workout. Don’t Poke Venus Williams with your Drumstick!

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!

Fat Burning Mythical Zone
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.

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4 Best Workout Programs for Fat Burning; This Girl is On Fire!

To burn fat and lose weight, one simple rule is to Go as hard as you can, as long as you can, as… Click To Tweet

Third, thanks to international fitness expert, professor, and colleague of ours, Dr. Len Kravitz you get top level practical tips. He shared with us 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.

  1. Kymberly in tree burning fat and calories

    HITT: High Intensity Tree Training

    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.

  2. Tempo Training
    This fat burning workout has you going at your hardest, fastest tempo for 20 minutes max. Pick a pace you can sustain for this shortened duration and give it your all! Recovery is at the end for as long as you need. That’s it! Simple and hard at the same time.
  3. Split Training
    Ready, set, go for 10 minutes as hard as you can at a pace you can sustain for the time, but no longer. Take a recovery break for as long as you need, up to around 5 minutes-ish. While you can stick with one mode for this method (such as all jump roping), Dr. Len gives the high five to alternating between two activities: treadmill for the work interval; elliptical for recovery, for example.

    Listen to Lenny

    Listen to Lenny

  4. Steady State Training
    Go with this approach when you need a low- to moderate intensity recovery day. Walking is a great activity for the Steady State workout. You want to move comfortably for 30 minutes to one hour at a constant pace that allows you to sustain a conversation. If you launch into a long-winded monologue, pick it up a bit. If you are panting out a few words then having to grab your breath, ease up a bit.

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!

ACTION: Make it easy on yourself to get the best and latest fitness, movement, and active aging advice. Subscribe today. Grab your freebie once you enter your email. We come to you twice a week.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


3 Biggest Treadmill and Stairclimber Mistakes [video]

Alexandra on treadmill wrong

Alexandra gets Lost in Translation

Do you hop on the stairclimber or treadmill to get a good workout for your wrist, neck, or spine? Do you have a goal to put all the load into your joints as you lean either too far forward or too far back? Didn’t think so!

Yet that is what we see from treadmillers and stairsteppers of all ages – not just baby boomers. Ouch and WTH?! (“What the Heck” – we don’t cuss ‘round these parts much).

At any given moment we can go into the cardio equipment area of a gym and see people working super hard. Yet their form denies them cardio benefits while stressing joints. Don’t let this be you! (If you do want a good workout on a treadmill, read our post “Treadmill Walking Workout.”)

What are the 3 biggest mistakes exercisers make on the treadmill & stairclimber? Don't let… Click To Tweet

Three major treadmill and stairclimber no-nos we see involve:

  1. heavy wrist bend
  2. elbow lock that leads to neck tension
  3. posture that is either hunched forward or inclined back.

Take a look at our priceless video demo.

Then check your form next time you hit the climber, treadmill, and even the elliptical machine. Go for natural arm swing, not death grip on the machine. If you can let go of the side or front bars and stay vertical you are probably doing it right! If your hair looks good when you are done, you are probably doing it light! Ahh ahha.

Dear Climber-Stepper buddies: Are you a wrist leaner? Horse reins grabber? What’s your best piece of advice for cardio exercisers? Besides reading our posts, of course. 

ACTION: Want a stronger core and better abs? Check out our newly released program: “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50” (23 videos, 10 modules, popular abs questions addressed).

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


Wrong and Right Way to Do An Oblique Crunch [Video]

A week ago we posted a video showing 4 exercises that aren’t worth your time, which had a few readers asking us to please show safe exercises for the obliques (instead of a bicycle crunch crash).

Your wishes are granted, as we pulled this video from our YouTube channel that shows the wrong and right way to do an oblique crunch.

Do you perform oblique crunches the wrong or right way? Are you sure? Click To Tweet

We also include two bada-boom-bullets that explain things awfully well, along with a not-too-graphic graphic:
Internal & External Obliques

  • Your external obliques run diagonally, forming a V in front. Imagine you’re putting your hands into a vest or front coat pocket.
  • Your internal obliques run at right angles to your external obliques and form an inverted V. Put your hands on your hips with your thumbs in front and fingers behind, pointing down as if putting your hands into back pockets.

Now you know the official terms for “I want my waist to be fit and trim, but don’t want to copy any of those lame exercises I see people do in the gym that are destined to hurt their back or neck.”

picture of Alexandra Williams at Bacara Resort

When the paparazzi try to photograph your obliques

Did you do the oblique crunch along with us? Feel free to comment below between reps. 412, 413, 414, 415 ….

Want more abdominal exercises tailored and curated to YOU? Then check out our “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50” (over 23 videos, 10 modules, popular abs questions addressed).

ACTION: Say, have you subscribed to our posts yet? Just put your email address in and Voila!!! Not only do we come to you twice a week with fitness solutions, but also you get our bonus booklet: “5 Fitness Myths that Weaken Your Abs.”

by Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

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6 Reasons to Start Getting Fit Today

New to exercise? Returning after a break of a few (or 30) years? Not really excited about exercise, but know you should? Hate the word “should” because it makes you feel guilty? Us too. In any case, the perfect time to start a get-fit regimen is today. You know, right after you read this post. Or do your lunges while you read it. Then take a few sweaty selfies to prove your dedication.

Six reasons to get you motivated:

1. People your age are starting to have health issues and you don’t want to join your peer group in this particular activity. You want to stay vibrant and energetic and independent and active and you know that it takes just a few new habits or changes to get where you want to be. You also want to stick around long enough to add commas and remove a few “ands” from the previous sentence.sunlight through the trees

2. Your high school reunion is coming up. Time to impress that person you always had a crush on. Time to make all the mean girls super envious of your vivacity. Have you noticed that fit people are attractive? It’s actually true. Exercise and healthy living give you confidence and energy. Confident, energetic people appear more attractive. Some weird evolutionary thing that makes sense. Notice we didn’t say “skinny” or “thin.” We said “fit” and “healthy.” Define your goal, baby.

If you view yourself as an exerciser your habits will change to meet that self-image. Click To Tweet

3. Your stress levels will go down. Yup, exercise reduces stress. In fact, it’s the number two motivator for working out (We know you’re wondering, so click this link to read our post that gives the number one motivator). Making snow angels decreases stress too, FYI.

snow angel

4. You will avoid the somewhat unrealistic expectation that you can get fit in time for a trip that starts on a Saturday if you start working out on the previous Wednesday. Much more realistic is to start a wee bit sooner. If your goal is weight loss, you can safely sustain a weight loss of 1 ½ to 2 pounds per week, so if you start today you will lose about 6 or 7 pounds in less than a month. If you’re thinking, “Hey, my goal is 35 pounds. What good is 6 or 7,” my answer is this – you’ll be 1/5th of the way there, if “there” is your weight loss goal. But your outlook and how you feel will be 75% of the way there, because research 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, after a few weeks your self-perception will change. From there, your activities change to meet this new self-view. Four or 5 months may seem like a long time if you’re planning to lose 35 pounds, but how long did it take to put ON those 35 pounds? Give yourself a break, eh?!Walking in the snow

5. Want to be smarter? Want to stave off memory loss, confusion, and dementia? Er, wait, I got distracted. More than anything else, exercise makes you smarter. Your brain gets bigger. It works faster and more efficiently. It gives better commands to your body. I always tell my university students that the best time for them to take a test is right after exercise class, NOT after staying up all night studying (while ingesting abnormal amounts of caffeine). We love the link between exercise and brainpower so much that we have written extensively on it. Exercise Can Train Your Brain, Spark Your Brain with Exercise, and Exercise Your Right to a Better Brain are three posts to get you started.

Exercise makes you smarter. Your brain gets bigger. It works faster and more efficiently. Click To Tweet

Sunset over water6. 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: As you now know, 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 6 Reasons!

The best time to take a test or give a presentation is right after you exercise. Click To Tweet

ACTION: Ready to be more active after reading this post but want more professional guidance and cutting edge practical tips? Own the complete set of our TransformAging Summit recordings. Learn how here: TransformAging

Text & photos by Alexandra Williams, MA

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Cellulite: How Do I Reduce It?

Special Diet and Exercise for Special Fat?

Dear K and A: Can cellulite be tackled with specific exercises? Gaby

What can I eat and what exercises can I do to reduce the appearance of cellulite? Cristina

Celebrities, Cellulite, Fat

The stars align

What Exactly is Cellulite? Why Don’t We Just Call it “Excess Fat?”

Alexandra: Ladies, your questions are so similar that they are now joined together in cellulite love. Let’s first give some definitions, yes? Cellulite originates in the subcutaneous fat beneath the dermis and epidermis (a “dermi” way of saying “skin”). It’s caused by small protrusions of fat into the dermis. Quiz later, so stay with me. And cellulite can be found on slender women; it’s just that weight gain exacerbates the condition.

So…the answer about specific exercise is “No” and “Yes.” Any eating and exercise regimen that includes a healthy diet (with fewer calories going in than being put out, since cellulite indicates a need to reduce some fat), plus cardio (aerobic movement) and resistance training will help you lose weight, which will reduce the visible “dimpling.” But (I didn’t say “butt” or you’d be reminded of the cellulite) since the fat where cellulite comes from is sitting on top of muscle, you can do specific resistance training for the tush (see, I didn’t say “butt” again), hips and thighs. Why? ‘Cause whimpery, weak, mushy muscles show the cellulite a lot more, whereas tight and toned muscles help smooth out that uneven look! Hello squats, lunges, and lower body workouts!  (Go to our post, Wrong and Right Way to Do a Squat to know how to execute squat excellence!)

cellulite, butt dimples, leg fat

Cellulite – Wear it Anywhere

What Bad Habit Worsens Cellulite?

Kymberly: Gaby and Cristina, if you tell me that you are “Smokin’ hot babes, but not smokers,” then good on ya’ because cigarette smoking will weaken the formation of collagen, which may allow for easier protrusion of fat into the dermis. Yup indeedy, smoking can worsen the appearance of cellulite. If you do smoke, then STOP IT!

What Works to Get Rid of Cellulite? What Doesn’t?

Alexandra: In case you have a wistful little voice in your head that asks, “can’t I just apply a cream or something?” the answer is 99% “No.” Surgery, injections, massage, creams/ointments, suction, heat application and herbals have NOT been found to have an effect on your cellulite. Both “shock wave” and laser therapy have shown some results in the improvement of the appearance of cellulite, but the study samples were small and so recent that more research is needed. I just mention it here so that you can kind of keep an eye out for further research on these two possible therapies. While you’re waiting, exercise more, eat less. That’s the bottom line on your bottom line!

Why Don’t Men Get Cellulite as Much as Women?

Cellulite is a normal condition, not disease that needs to be “cured,” says health expert Carol… Click To Tweet

Kymberly: Before I pontificate, let me contradict my sis. You can and may simply apply cream if you want. It just won’t work. Save your money for workout clothes. We have some baddish, badass news (unless you’re a man): cellulite is offered exclusively to women. Darn it! Right in the subcutaneous fat, where the fat protrusions occur, men are structured differently than women. Not only that, but men’s skin is thicker, and we aren’t speaking metaphorically; we mean literally– their skin is thicker in the thighs and butt. Women carry five times more fat cells in the thighs, hips, buttocks than in other sites of the body. Physiological rip-off, we’d say!

So get busy racking up cardio time, do those lower body exercises (check out our post for 5 more reasons to join a Group Strength Class), and eat fuel, not chubby grub. Or wear long pants the rest of your life and curse your ancestors for the genes you inherited. We prefer Action Plan A. Action Plan B could cut into your other inheritance.

Readers: If you have cellulite, have you remembered to text your parents to thank them for the genetic predisposition? Start pressing those tiny buttons!

ACTION: Comment below if you have tried strength training and seen it make a difference — with your strength and fat stores. Please tweet or share if you know someone who could benefit from this info.

Photo credits: Creative Commons

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


To Burn Fat, Do I Go Faster or Slower?

Total Wave Fitness

Go Faster! Go Slower! Oh, Just Go!

Burn a (Relative) Myth to Burn More (Absolute) Calories

Dear Kymberly and Alexandra: What is the appropriate intensity or heart rate for a 56 year old woman who wants to burn fat?  A while ago, I won a free membership to a gym and was surprised when my personal trainer informed me that I needed to slow down on the treadmill.  I always thought that walking faster would be better for losing weight.  Diane, Santa Maria, CA

Alexandra: The appropriate heart rate for a 56 year old woman is to have one! Yup, now that you’re officially in the “second half,” how much does it matter if your heart is beating like a rabbit? Mine goes shooting sky high when I see actor Clive Owen, and you don’t see me slowing down as I stalk him in Hollywood!

Kymberly: How shall I put this diplomatically and professionally?? Umm, get a new trainer. This one fell for a long time myth and does not understand the diff between burning calories to lose fat and using fat vs carbos as the energy source for activity. Do you hear me tearing out my low fat hair? Read our post on how you don’t have to burn fat in order to be low fat: Best Workouts to Burn Fat for Women Over 50.

To reduce fat, you must get to caloric deficit whether those calories are fueled by stored fat… Click To Tweet

Alexandra: Ah, I thought that sound was you burning some fat. On the stove. In a frying pan. With an empty bacon wrapper on the counter. When you’re done setting off the smoke alarms, Kymberly, please tell Diane the difference between burning fat calories and using energetic fat!

Kymberly on human powered treadmill

Don’t Dread this Treadmill

Calories In vs Calories Out Still Counts

Kymberly: Alexandra is jealous of my cooking abilities and my superior fitness knowledge. So sad, so obvious.  Here’s the deal. To reduce body fat you need to:

  • Burn more calories than you take in. You can do that by working out longer (but who the heck has time? You are too busy finding a qualified trainer and walking faster. Believe me);
  • Or you can work out more intensely;
  • Or you can do both. The key is to use up calories faster than a Hummer uses gas. Or faster than Alexandra runs when the near naked scene with Clive Owen in the James Bond movie comes on screen. Whether those calories you burn up are fueled by stored fat or stored carbohydrates, the bottom line is to get to caloric deficit.
Alexandra on cardio equipment

Forget Speed; Go with Style!

Alexandra: As a true professional (“professional what?” you may ask) I want to add this little caveat. Do you take any meds that would cause your (shall we call him or her “former”?) trainer to worry about your heart rate? If so, you had better talk to a real doctor instead of we two fitness weenies about your walking pace. Otherwise, here is the deal. If you walk faster, you lose weight faster. How soon is your next high school reunion? If it’s really soon, you had better walk so fast that it comes to resemble a heavy, panting trot. And will someone please let Kymberly know that my close personal friend Clive was not in a James Bond movie.

Caloric Deficit is Key: “Fat Burning Zone” is Myth

Kymberly: Hey running rabbit sis, slow down! But Diane – speed up your heart rate. Last time Alexandra panted as hard as her advice suggests, Clive Owen was…..  Oh never mind. As I was saying, get to caloric deficit. The trap your trainer got caught in is that low intensity activity relies on stored body fat to fuel the casual stroll. High intensity activity uses mostly carbohydrates as fuel, also known as “energy,” also known as “calories.” And while low intensity exercise might use a higher relative percentage of fat instead of carbos, you need not care about relative percentages in this case. You care about total, absolute number of burned cals.  To lose one pound of weight you must burn 3,500 more calories than you take in, ie, caloric deficit.  Therefore, do what it takes to burn as many calories as you can, need, or want. You can either go longer, go with more intensity, or go more often if you have a weight loss goal.

Alexandra: Can you really walk your way to a more fit you? Click that <—— link and read our post on how to pace yourself depending whether you are walking to be healthy, avoid weight gain, or lose weight.  Can Walking Really Get You to Your Fit Destination?  Also take a look at this great guest post from Jody Goldenfield: Managing Your Weight As You Age .  She’s one of the most fit 50+ women we know and is over at  Truth2BeingFit.com.

Action: Tweet, comment, and share our post on Facebook if you think others might benefit from this fat burning info as well.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA



Perfect Body Season is … Never In Season

Trying to lose weight over the holidays before you see any judgy relatives,  grandkids who want to play, or the crotchety old uncle who said you’d never amount to much? Fuggetaboutid! Give yourself the ultimate gift of self-love this season and revel in the ribald revelry of winter with some gusto, acceptance, and balance. Being “thin” was not always in. Being healthy and active (with good posture) is always in style. And hotter than mulled cider!

* See our series on the subject of how to assess, then improve your posture to look more fit. You are welcome!)

Body image & a perfect physique are matters of perspective, culture, history, & whatever… Click To Tweet

Health and beauty are inside jobs! Body image and a “perfect physique” are matters of perspective, culture, history, and whatever the mass media tells us.

Can you say “Mixed Messages?” Don’t believe us? Take a brief tour through past wistful wishes for va-va-voom figures. Look at what people were willing to do to achieve that “look du decade.”

Too Skinny, Men?

Hottie or Nottie?

Don’t make us talk about you years from now! Our gift to you as we wrap up — no, not gifts. We are not that organized! — Work the look you already have. Embrace it; Look it in the eye and say “Ell-bees – you and I are going into the New Year together baby, guilt- and stress-free!

Whoa now you Vixens, Dashers, and Red Nosed sorts! Don’t go overboard — or is that “oversleigh?” We said give yourself some body-lovin’ self-acceptance while staying active, not plunk down your hiney so finey!

Done with Exercise until 2016? Hope not.

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by Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA




How Do I Lose Weight But Not Bulk Up?

No Hulk! No Bulk!

Dear Fun and Fit: K and A–I want to lose weight, not bulk up and build muscle. I’ve recently joined a gym and started doing 40 minutes on the elliptical and walking five miles on the treadmill each day. Should I still do this daily elliptical routine to lose weight or just stick with the walking so I don’t bulk up and get too muscular? Thanks so much! Chelsey, Effingham, Illinois

Kymberly: Good news walking wonder woman. Not only can you tread the light fantastic, but also you can work the elliptical until you shrink so much you have to run around in the shower to get wet. Unless you are actually lifting the elliptical machine above your head until muscular fatigue sets in (probably around one repetition), you are in cardio land, not weight or strength training land.

How Do You Know if an Activity is “Cardio” or “Aerobic?”

An “aerobic” or “cardio” activity is defined as being:

  • systemic (using many muscles in the body, mostly the major ones in the lower body)
  • with elevated heart rate
  • at a pace you can sustain 20 minutes (even if you go longer or shorter, you COULD sustain it at least 20 minutes)
  • always able to breathe comfortably at a rate of 60-85% of your heart rate maximum
  • low resistance and many many many repetitions.

While aerobic exercise will strengthen your heart, it will not really affect muscle mass.  In short, work out bulk-free with both the treadmill and elliptical as neither will build much more than the heart muscle.

Bodybuilding vs Strength Training: Build or Bust a Myth?Kymberly and Coco using TRX

Alexandra: There is a myth, that’s a mystery to me and misses the point about weight loss. That myth is that weight training will make you all bulked up like the Hulk. That is called bodybuilding. If you want to lose weight, you will have to add weight training to your regimen (see how it’s called “weight training?” That is because you are training your weight to bend to your will). With cardio, if you hustle your bustle (19th-century version of Spanx®), you can burn 10-12 kcals a minute; with weight training it’s only 8-10 kcals per minute. But, da da da da (those are trumpets), due to a magical thing called the metabolic spike (not a volleyball term), you will continue to burn kcals for about an hour after you finish working out and are sitting on your Chelsey Tushy. So in the end, due to the wonders of higher math, you will actually have burned more kcals with the weight training added in.

While aerobic exercise will strengthen your heart, it will not really affect muscle mass. Click To Tweet

Kymberly: If it reassures you even more, unless “Chelsey” is a fake name for “Carl” or “Charles” or “Manly Man,” as a female you do not have enough testosterone to accidentally bulk up. No sireee, I mean no misseee, you will not wake up one morning suddenly sproing boing, pop pop muscle-bound beyond belief and desire. Creating muscle definition is a process that takes time and deliberate weight training effort, so if you see yourself getting more muscular than you want, I’m pretty sure you’d notice and make changes to your program.

Alexandra: Because we like you so much, you get the bonus info that we haven’t told anyone (except in these other posts which we encourage you and everyone to read, then blab about):

Glam girls have curves5 Reasons to Attend a Strength Class

Do You Have to Work Harder and Faster as You Age Just to Stay the Same?

Weights or Cardio: Who’s on First?

By adding weight training, you will change your metabolism and be burning kcals at a higher rate all day and night. Even on vacation and during high fatty-intake sports matches and dates where you eat a lot because someone else is paying (oops, gave away my college financial solvency plan), you will be a little kcal-burning heater.

Dear hulkers and bulkers: What kind of weight training have you added to your exercise regimen? Did you even know there was a She-Hulk?

ACTION: Want guidance on exactly what to do to lose weight, get strong, boost your metabolism, and counteract the effects of menopause? Consider our TransformAging webinar summit package wherein leading experts offer practical strategies and up to date tips. Click to find out more and to be more (or less!)

Also take a look at this spiffy gifographic:

Trouble Viewing? Click for Text Version
Why Women Should Lift Weights - 5 Myths Busted
Source: Why Women Should Lift Weights – 5 Myths Busted

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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