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3

Allergies and Activity–Something to Sneeze At

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit:

I have really bad allergies during spring when everything is just starting to bloom so I try not to be outdoors (especially on windy days) … to control my symptoms along with the usual allergy medicine. However, I noticed that when I’m running in the morning, I am usually allergy symptom-free! Do you have any ideas why that is the case? Do you think I can distract my allergy enough with activity that it won’t tell my body to sound out the alarm and make me miserable?

Lou, of BVIbrantNow.com Windsor, CA

Kymberly: Veeery interesting, young grassy-hopper. For the record, I am allergic to any kind of running in the morning. Ok, just running. Amazingly I am always symptom-free when power walking. Back to you, Lou: Normally pollen counts are highest in the mornings (check out this MD-reviewed and super readable article, “Exercise Outdoors — Even with Allergies“).  So you’d think you’d be sneezing and wheezing and cursing the purty flowers and bucolic buds on that early run. I know I might curse a leetle teeny bit when up and out early, like anything that is :00 dawn-o’clock.  But there’s a twist to the story. According to this fine, fine, and poachable article, “although exercising outdoors can increase your contact with pollen, ironically, the extra adrenalin your body produces while you are working out can temporarily dampen the allergic response.”  In other words, YES, you can distract your allergy with activity. Make my work easy and just read the darn link, will ‘ya?! The only flaw here is that once you stop, the dampening effect of the adrenalin stops and symptoms come back. So keep running until evening when pollen counts drop or you do. My lawyer says to say “not really.”

Alexandra: I have distracted many, many things over the years with “enough activity” yet have only dealt with grass allergies during soccer games. I sneezed every time the other team scored!  Since your allergy symptoms will increase as your running speed increases, you either need to distract your allergies by running slower (aka walking) or get a face mask. It would appear that even isolating yourself on a pollen and mold-free cruise ship wouldn’t necessarily solve your an allergic reaction, although you would suffer in style. Speaking of suffering in style, why don’t you just get a trendy spacesuit? Then you could run anywhere, in any season, any time of day? Just for the record, I have no actual medical degree, and therefore no idea why you are symptom-free during the worst time of the day for inhaling pollen. My fitness theory? You are out-running whatever the wind is blowing into your face. Sadly, this would mean keeping up or even increasing your running speed. This goes so far against my personal motto of “Why run when you can drive?” that I am having an allergic reaction to my own theory. I recommend you walk with Run…DMC that is.

K: On the days you still want to work out but your allergies are acting up, try either swimming or shifting to indoor cardio activities. Wear a flattering outfit so you can distract someone or something.

A: Lou, if you think you’ve got it bad, take a look at this poor little bear cub. He should not forage in the early hours:

Sneezing bear

Readers with allergies: What tricks do you use to minimize symptoms when you want to exercise but the air says “don’t breathe me now?”

Photo credit: Mike Tually – Creative Commons


8

Back off Back Fat or the Ole’ Lady Gets It

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit:

Yikes!  What do I do for the ole’ lady back????  I have love handles in the back area.  I know I need to lose a few pounds but this is a big problem area for me!!

Thanks,
Terry in Santa Barbara

Back Fat Love Handles

K: Not loving back fat and love handles eh? Trying to get a handle on them, eh? Wanting to get back at your back fat after all these years eh? Think I’m stalling, hoping a good answer will come to me, eh? Well, for a low low price apparently you can buy green tea which will solve all fat problems. I saw it on the internet so it must be true. I think you rub stinky leaves on yourself and food runs away from you. The skinny on back fat is that it’s fat like all other fat. And like all stored fat, you cannot nuke it or spot reduce.You must reduce overall body fat through cardio and resistance training. Where you hold extra insulation is genetically predisposed. So it could be that you are thin-looking everywhere else with your mom and dad having set you up for life with back fat as the preferred storage area.

Now if you want to get a rebate on those green tea leaves, for a medium to high price I will create advice that trains your back fat to move around to the front and enhance your cleavage. Or we can hire someone to stand behind you and shove any back fat forward and up. So Double D-elightful eh?

A: Time for some higher math to create lower fat. One pound of body fat equals 3,500 kcals (calories). To lose one pound of fat, you will have to burn 3,500 kcals. You can do this by eating less and/or moving more. Or you could just drive those extra pounds to a deserted country road and toss them out of the car. Sadly, they have a way of finding their way home! Back to math class–A realistic, sustainable way to get rid of that bad-girl back-fat is to create a 500-kcal deficit per day. 500 kcals X 7 days in a week = 1 pound of fat forever left in the country. That may sound slow, especially if you have more than one pound to lose, but it is still a lot quicker than it took you to put it on, am I right?

K: As you move to caloric deficit and therefore overall fat reduction, spend some dedicated time strength training your upper and middle back muscles. Not only will you develop lean, defined back muscles that will show through once the overall fat is lowered, but also you will no doubt enhance your posture. Good posture always drops a few visual pounds. Key word there was “visual.”

By the way, you can save yourself that lonely country drive Alexandra mentions if you simply give the back fat you found back to the ole’ lady. We’ll back you up that you are too young for old lady fat.

Readers: What is your secret source of fat frustration?  Where is the first place you find fat and the last place you lose it?

7

Weights or Cardio – Who’s On First?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit:

Q: When I work out at the gym and plan to do both strength and cardio, which is better to start with? Spending time on the treadmill/elliptical/bike before the weights or vice versa?

Thanks K&A, love your blog!

Denise, Los Angeles, CA

A: I will give the “it depends” answer since I am not sure of your specific goals. Based on experience, and being a woman myself (a designation started by my parents), I shall take the wild and crazy guess that you want to mainly be toned and lose extra poundage, yes? If you are training for a body-building competition or simply for mass and strength, then you should do the strength training first. Otherwise, probably the cardio. In any case, if you are training for body-building, I don’t want to give you advice as you might get big and strong and hunt us down if you don’t like our fabulicious advice.

K: Let me tell you a true story from my teaching career. A woman who used to come devotedly to my morning Step class suddenly disappeared. Two months later I saw her in the gym. She had gained 20 pounds. Ok, maybe just 10, but that’s what she gets for skipping my classes. “Oh, Kymberly, I miss your Step class so much. But my personal trainer told me I had to do weights before cardio. Since I drop off the kids at school just before coming to work out, I can longer make it in time to Step as I have to fit in the weight training first.”  The professional in me asked what she was now doing for her cardio training (even though I really wanted to ask “what the @#XXamp;^* was your trainer thinking since you are now heavier?”) “Oh,” she fessed up, ” I don’t do cardio anymore since I am too tired after weight training. I used to do my weight training after your class while my energy levels were still pumped up.” Readers, do you like how I am working in total compliments to my teaching skills? Just another fitness benie (a benefit morsel).  In short, she cut her workouts in half to accommodate some arbitrary order of exercise. The only exercise order is what Fun and Fit tell you.

And daaaaahlink, we tell you: research is 50/50 on this one. Does your body feel better doing one type first? Then that is the better order for you. Does your schedule fit better one way than another? Match activity to you, not you to it. I used underline, bold, and italics on this quote so you would be impressed by its depth of meaning. I will forever quote myself on that one from this point forward. Denise, which goal is more important to you on a given workout day – strength, cardio, catching the finals of World Cup while on the elliptical machine? Do that activity first.  Rack up the activity minutes however you set the order. Didn’t that sentence sound like a cell phone company ad?

A: Some trainers recommend strength training first, because they are thinking about depleting your glycogen stores (glycogen stores are little mom-and-pop shops where you can buy sugar) to augment the amount of fat used for your cardio, but for the average exerciser this is not the case (Fun and Fit are not saying you are average, but your muscles and metabolism might be). Still awake? You can alternate the order of your workout (She loves me, She loves me not), but if your big deal is that you think you are a big deal (overweight), you will be happier doing the cardio first. Besides, after all that treadmill stuff, you can sit down at the machines or benches and rest while you lift 7-pound weights. But keep the big 30-pound weights at your feet so people think you are a bad mama who can actually lift those suckahs without engaging in a medical procedure known as “self-induced hernia.”

K: Hi again. Just got back from weight training first. Why? Cuz my favorite cardio machine was taken and I didn’t want to be hanging at the gym all night. I have better things to do — like ask my parents if Alexandra was always a woman or just wild and crazy.

Readers, especially scheduler types: How do you order your exercise activity? Off the menu, through the window, or special delivery?  Tell us at funandfit.org

For those of you thinking Fun and Fit make up half their advice, you are so right! The other half is supported by experience, knowledge, industry articles  and research such as  bit.ly/wtsorcardiofirst

7

Spinning, Walking, Treading are Big Fat Pains

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Q: Dear Fun and Fit: Kymberly and Alexandra

I am really trying to get into better shape. But all my joints ache. The worst are my knees. I work out on an elliptical trainer for 25 minutes and a spinning machine for 20 minutes and do 10 minutes of stretching to start each workout. I do this M/W/F. The other four days I deal with the pain. I am a 61-year-old male and I am trying to lose 25lbs. It is not fun and I am really hating the pain. What do I do?

Frank, California

K: Swim

A: Swim

K: Hey, I said it first!

A: I thought it first!

K and A: We thought it at the same time. Whoa! Twin telepathy. ……. Ahh haa haaa made you look.

K: Now that you wonder whether we really do have twin telepathy, I can tell you what Alexandra was thinking. Bupkus. But I am thinking that getting into a pool and doing laps really is the best option. If swimming is not a realistic option for whatever reason – no pool handy, hate to get wet, you only wear a bathing suit in the privacy of your bathtub–whatever–then we have to come up with more clever solutions.

A: Solution: Do something else.

Wow, that was a quick and short blog post. But since there is lots of white space left, and Kymberly whimpers if I get the last word, I’ll continue. Have you already ascertained that these machines are the best (meaning “most pain-free”) choice for your knees? How about the water aerobics in the pool? That is way easy on the joints, especially deep-water classes. First of all, the best type of pre-workout stretching is to do the movement you’re about to do. Huh, what? Who’s on first? What I mean is, I don’t know what kind of stretching you are doing, but the wrong kind could start you off on the wrong path (have you ever gotten lost on an elliptical?). Let’s say you decide to take my excellent pool class advice. The best warm-up for that is to get in the pool and move. Not stand still and clutch your foot to the back of your hind end (aka “gluteus attractivus”) for example.

K: Frank, are you sure it’s the cardio machines causing the pain and not the stretching? Without more detail about your stretching regimen it’s hard to tell what to suggest. Do you do any upper thigh strengthening (quads especially)? Put static stretching at the end or your workout. Add in some strength training for your legs twice a week. Make sure the seat of your spinning cycle is set high enough for your leg length. Nag, nag, nag. Lastly, given your goals, commitment and pain level, invest in a personal trainer for at least one month. Get your form, equipment settings, stretching plan all checked by a professional. And I don’t mean us. We’re way too busy holding our feet to our gluteii attractivi (Latin plural for that technical word Alexandra made up above). The non-technical word for this position is the “Frank in Footer” ).

A: You are smart to choose relatively low-impact activities, as they are easier on the knees, yet since you are still in pain, I recommend the New Jersey approach and fuggedaboutit. I can tell by your frankness (ooh, that is a pun you have not heard in 61 years), that you are an outgoing guy, so why don’t you find a local gym with a “seniors” program (a euphemism for “anyone older than myself”) and take a group low-impact class? The variety of movement will decrease the potential for pain and the ever-so-enjoyable atmosphere will make your workout go by quicker. At the very least, you’ll still be in pain on the 4 non-exercise days, but it will be fun while you’re in class. And that’s an improvement. Unless you take my sister’s class – in which case your pain will increase tremendously. Have you heard her jokes? Like an emery board on the ears. By the way, quit calling your wife “the pain.”
Readers: When exercise has been painful, what did you do about it? And do you think twins have telepathy with each other?

5

Hide or Get Rid of My Muffin Top and Old Workout Wear?

Dear Fun and Fit – Kymberly and Alexandra: Why does my clingy, sexy workout wear that I bought ten years ago suddenly look like @@^%@ on me? Signed, Muffin-top, San Diego, CA

Muffin Top tattoo on belly

Alexandra: The answer lies in your signature. No one looks good in clingy wear with 10 years’ worth of snacks hanging out. You need to put on your baggy sweats and get on a treadmill. Hang your cute workout clothes on a hanger in front of the treadmill for inspiration. Start walking, add in some strength training, and stop eating those muffins.

Kymberly: To put it another way, cut back on the batter that fills those muffin cups!

  1. Take a photo of your clingy, sexy workout wear and post it on the refrigerator or above the stove.
  2. If you eat out often, wrap the photo around your credit card so you can stay focused when ordering a meal away from home.
  3. But frankly, what I would do is buy some new gear that simply hides my muffin top (not saying I have one, mind you!!). After 10 years with the same stuff, you deserve something new, looser, and more figure flattering.

A: Now that I think about it, I believe your muffin-tops are only half the problem. The other reason your clingy stuff looks like (edited for family reasons) “doo-doo” is that it is out of style. All of your stuff from ten years ago is so…2000ish. As in “Turn of the Century.”

Call to Action: Move out of the past and into the future — of great workout advice and smaller muffins by subscribing to our blog. You can do so in the right sidebar or the pop-up box. 

Dear Snackers: What do you eat that makes your workout wear misunderstand you? Do you eat or wear muffin-tops?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

2

Exercise No Child’s Play for Busy Parent

Listen to the audio version!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Kymberly and Alexandra:

Q: I need to get in shape, lose 20 lbs, and look even BETTER than I already do. 🙂  I have two young children, a 5-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl. I want to include them, but quite honestly, playing/exercising at their speed does not provide enough cardio.  I have always been an avid, competitive soccer player, but last May I tore my meniscus and had to quit my league. The surgery was successful, but I still don’t have my confidence back and I don’t want to be tentative and get injured again… Between work, family, music and other pressures of life, I just can’t seem to find the time or energy. I know that once I start some type of program, the floodgates will open and it will be much easier. Recommendations?

Brian of Burbank. CA

Dear Brian:

A: Here’s how to jump start your efforts. Ditch the wife and kids right after breakfast on Saturday, play pick-up soccer all day (forget the competitive league stuff unless you’re the coach, in which case your exercise will be pacing the sidelines and yelling friendly, encouraging comments) then return home after a brewski with the team. In case your wife notices that this plan is all “jumpy starty” in your favor – hers, not so much – go to Plan B….

Plan B: you look in the mirror and notice that “looking better than you already do” will never happen. Didn’t you notice – You have kids…for many years to come. You will never look hot, young, or refreshed again. Wait, I have kids and I look way better than ever. Use my trick – sunglasses (like these cute back-to-school choices from our affiliate Warby Parker) and lipstick. Or…make a date with the wife for a nice walk several times a week. Do you have someone who will watch the kids for a half hour or so? Paying a sitter is waaaaay cheaper than a gym membership. And you will get some “us” time away from the kidlets. If you can’t do that, can you at least walk during lunch? I know, I know, you work through lunch half the time, right? But what about the other half? Hello Floodgates.

K: Geez, Alexandra is so depressing. Brian, you can look better than you do now because I am assuming you are giving off the tired, lethargic, and stressed look this year. Youthful hotness lies ahead! You mention having tried to use play time with your wee ones as exercise time so let’s focus on transforming that time, rather than trying to carve out minutes elsewhere. Would your daughter enjoy racing in a stroller while you sing and talk to her? If you can leave your older child with your wife for half an hour (giving her a break from double duty), and strap in the baby for a joy ride, then she is going at your pace, which had better be a jaunty one! If your current stroller cannot accommodate speed racing, then either get a baby jogger oooorrrrr get a sturdy baby backpack and take her for a power walk. I can guarantee you will get the intensity and heart rate you are looking for if you step lively with a 20 pound wiggly weight on your back. Then when you get back in the door after this sweat-inducing 30-minute cardio workout, get your son to sit on your upper back while you knock out push-ups until fatigue. If fatigue sets in at the first push-up then switch out the big boy for the little girl and get your pump on!

A: I could recommend waking an hour earlier for a walk or run, but that doesn’t sound fun AT ALL. Save all your work phone calls till lunch and answer them while you walk. Then you will mentally feel like you aren’t “skipping out” on your work duties. Schedule your walk or run into your calendar so it seems like it’s important. If it’s in the calendar, it will happen! Good luck. Or park your car a mile from work. Just the walk to and from the office counts as exercise.

K: My last suggestion: join a gym that offers day care while you AND your wife work out. Benies galore such as time to work out as intensely as you want; a chance to do something healthy with your wife; and a time for both of you to turn the little ones over to pro care and focus on you, you, you. And just for the record, those sunglasses Alexandra is looking out of are obviously rose-tinted shades. Advice to twinnie: get up that hour earlier you so nicely recommended and add more lipstick… and maybe a low brimmed hat… and soft focus lighting.

A: I got your soft focus right here.




 

16

Perky, not Saggy: Push-Ups or Push Up Bra?

Dear Fun and Fit–K and A: If I lose weight (probably 20 – 30 lbs is required), will my boobs be flat bags of skin clinging to my ribcage? I would rather be plump with nice skin tone than skinny with saggy skin! I live in Kuwait where exercising outdoors is practically impossible and I struggle to use my indoor treadmill, WII Fit and elliptical exerciser on a regular basis. It’s boring.   Stacey, Kuwait

Woman in saggy corset and perky girdle

Push Ups or Push Up Bra? Why Not Both?

Kymberly: Oh, Stacey, I could kiss your plump and nicely toned cheek for giving us a saggy boobs question! Think of all the hits we’ll get when people type in the key word “boobs.” Yes, We will become the porn fitness leaders of the internet world instead of the highly respected pros we thought we once were. Alexandra, you had better handle this one as you are the one with the smaller (secret code for “deflated”) boobs. That’s what you get for losing all that weight yourself, Miss “I am now so trim and everyone thinks I am your younger sister, not twin.”

Alexandra: If your boobs (let’s call them “plumpers”) are saggy and clinging to your ribcage, who cares about your skin? You’ve got bigger problems. And how much of that extra 20-30 pounds can you realistically blame on the saggers? I’d go for 10 pounds. So you only have another 10-20 to go! You are part way to your goal already. Do you like push-ups? Sure, you do. Every woman I’ve ever met loves them (Ahahaaaaaaa). But if you can get some muscle tone going all that sag, you’ll look perky and youthful.

chest press

Chest press with the stars

Try a Chest Press

But what if you don’t like push ups?. Here’s what you do: lie on your back on a mat or bench or even your bed (if it’s an extra-firm mattress). Do you have some weights? You are not off the hook if you don’t. Just grab a few bags of beans or cans of sauce from your cabinet – they can be your weights. I’ll let Kymberly describe your chest press form while I go check the mirror to assess my perky youthful qualities!

Or Go Straight (and Curvy) to Push Ups

Kymberly: Good try foisting the chest press description on me. I want to emphasize the push-up option. Alexandra is so right that the secret to retaining firm frontage while working on weight loss (a separate question addressed in these posts: Best Workouts to Burn Fat for Women Over 50 and Managing Weight as You Age ) is to build up the musculature underneath. Push-ups are free, available everywhere, easy to pack, and the perfect option for lift and anti-sag. As your pec (chest) muscles strengthen underneath the breast tissue, you will have the internal support to get the look and lift you want. Push-ups also strengthen the mid and upper back muscles, which will assist in holding you erect.

Posture Please for Perfect Plumpers

Another KEY component to keeping the girls (also now known as your “plumpers”) up while bringing the weight down is posture. Standing tall, proud, and extended instead of rounded or even slightly hunched is like losing five pounds visually in a nano-second.  If you want to assess your posture, try our quick test and check out the posts we link to in Look Younger and Thinner Instantly with Better Posture.

Kymberly pushupsStart On Your Knees to Keep You on Your Toes

Now when we recommend push-ups, we suggest you start with your hands and knees on the floor and aim for ten push-ups, three to five times a week for a couple of weeks. Get some good suggestions on knee to toe push ups here. From there, strive to whip out (no, not the plumpers, you rascal) fifteen push-ups. Once you are comfortable with fifteen knee push-ups, try five on your hands and toes and ten more on your hands and knees.

pussy cat push-ups aka puss-ups

Doin’ mah puss-ups!

Discover whether your push up form is fab or faulty by clicking our post, Push Ups: Wrong and Right Way

The goal is to work up to about twenty toe push-ups every other day. Give yourself two months or so to get to that goal. Not only will you see a positive difference in your cleavage, but also you will be on your way to weight loss and some pretty nice arms and posture. Locked and loaded!

Alexandra: What? Is that a math problem? If 5 push-ups are travelling toward 10 trains, at what speed will you crash on the carpet? Get a good bra and take a nap. Nah, get to work. Put a nice bowl of water on the floor and take a slurp each time you drop down on the push-ups. Not only will you know you dropped far enough down, but all that liquid will help your skin get ever so plumpy!

Awesome Action: When you are done with your water slurping and math accented push ups, subscribe to our blog. Get your FREEBIE download and active aging answers twice a week but only if you want to look, feel and move more youthfully!

 

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