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Stretch Before or After Walking, Running, Hiking, Fighting?

Dear K and A: Is it better to stretch before or after doing cardio exercise, such as a hike, walk, or run? We believe that the couple who hikes together, stays together. This morning on a lovely hike, we found ourselves debating the truth of exercise advice ONE of us learned long ago: to leave the deep stretching until after the heavy workout — as opposed to stretching before a hike or run, when muscles are cold and maybe a little cranky.  Thanks, from your fans, Gordon & Erika, Goleta, CA

Kymberly: The couple who debates together stays together … until one of them loses this bet. Yes, we’ve been around this walking block and see the dangers that lie ahead. But we persevere anyway to bring righteous truthiness and stretchiness to the active world. Once we answer, will one of you be cranky even though your muscles will no longer be?

And the winnah winnah winnah is …………….. ONE of you is correct. Ok, I’ll give. First, we assume you mean “static” or holding still when you say “deep stretching.” In that case, stretches are best held when muscles and the core body temperature are at their warmest. For static  stretching, that spells “post activity.” Your heart rate is up, you’re possibly sweating, your internal temp is toasty  – good time to ask the muscles to ex–teeeeeend. Is ONE of you hot under the collar now?

Statically Stretch Post-Exercise

Kymbelrly doing tree splits at Ranchi o la Puerta

Don’t split up over stretching disaTREEments. Do the splits instead.

Alexandra: We covered some of this (including a lovely picture) in our post Stretch it or be Wretched. But the full truth and nothing but the truth is essentially whatever Fun and Fit say it is, for the simple reason that we sprinkle a light dusting of truth over nothing everything we do, so we’ll give you even more info. While doing your post-exercise stretches, please hold and argue, yell and scream politely discuss your differences of opinion for at least 15-30 seconds so that you can get improved active range of motion, rather than a quick 5-second dish-throwing tirade discourse about improved passive range of motion. Keep in mind the goals of stretching: 1) to maintain or improve range of motion (flexibility) and 2) to reduce the risk of injury and soreness.  You will reach these goals better with warm, happy muscles that have been contracting and extending throughout your aerobic workout and are now ready to solely lengthen.

What Movement Belongs in Pre-Exercise?

Kymberly: Let’s divide and conquer – umm, this is the segment that is not couple’s advice. To prepare to move, (i.e. hike, run, walk) you need to actually move. Yes, indeedy. A warm-up needs to literally heat up the body by mimicking the workout to come. That is, in your warm-up, do the type of movements you will be doing in the workout, but at a lower intensity and graduated pace. Rehearse the joint actions and movement patterns you are about to perform.

Bob walking up beach steps

A loooong stretch … of up

For example, if you are about to take a power or dog walk, the best warm-up is walking – not jogging, side stepping, or squatting. Start at a moderate pace, ideally and initially on flat terrain. About 3-5 minutes later, pick up the pace and stride intensity. Holding still and stretching statically would be the opposite of this.

Dynamically Stretch in Warm-Up

Guess what? As you warm up, you are actually building in the necessary stretches — dynamic (moving) ones. By definition, if I am contracting my quadriceps, my hamstrings are simultaneously lengthening. As I swing my heel forward to take a step, my shin contracts. Its antagonist, or pair, the calf muscle has to extend. So you really are stretching pre-workout, but in a dynamic way that meets the warm-up goals.

Static Stretching Before Exercise Neither Reduces Soreness nor Minimizes Injury

Kymberly: The muscles are most helpful when warm, pliable, and extensible. Also, all the latest research concludes that static stretching before exercising offers no injury prevention protection. Nor does pre-activity stretching help minimize muscle soreness. ARE YOU LISTENING PEOPLE AND COACHES?!  ALERT ALERT –EXIT THE 80’s DOOR AT THE END.

Action: Stretch your horizons and knowledge about what and how to exercise by subscribing to our blog. Enter your email in any of the handy dandy boxes around and about our site.  We come to you with active aging advice twice a week, FUh -REee!

Alexandra: This post took us 15-30 hours to write in a non-passive way because that’s how long it took for us to conclude that no stupid, **&^*^%$ reputable research exists about “cranky” muscles. As a sop, though, here is a nice, compassionate saying regarding cranky, angry people.

Kymberly: So who won the bet, G or E?

Dear Readers and Crankyfoos: What is your favorite stretch after a long hike? What do you argue about during your strolls? Remember to subscribe if you have not already.
Photo credits:

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


Oblique Ab Crunches: How to Do Them Properly

Tape measure on abs

One of our most popular post categories is Abs, especially workouts that show how to do them with good form. You want to avoid pain (and sweat), plus you want to get the most bang for your exercise buck (these posts are free), and the least waist for your workout. We are here to help you with the “muffin top / love handles” dilemma.

Our quick video tutorial gives you helpful specifics on how to perform oblique (side) abdominal crunches correctly. And as a bonus, we also show how NOT to do them.

Good news – you don’t have to learn technical terms. But just in case you’re wondering why we say “obliques” instead of “waist” or “that area that encircles your spine that used to be oh-so-tiny way back in high school,” we’ve got some quick Ed-U-Cay-Shun-al info about the technical terms.

Internal & External ObliquesYour external obliques run diagonally, forming a V in front. Imagine you’re putting your hands into a vest or front coat pocket. Feel those rock hard muscles? Yeah, me neither. But I do know that my obliques are there somewhere.

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.
Diagonal Reverse Abs
For those of you who like the nitty-gritty, oblique-y details, here’s an excellent definition by our colleague Dr. Len Kravitz, who teaches at the University of New Mexico and is way smart!

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.” More importantly, you can now confidently add oblique crunches to your exercise routine. Score!!

Not yet a subscriber? Sign up by entering your email (to the right in the sidebar ———–> and you’ll receive our handy-dandy posts two times per week. Which is probably how often you do ab workouts, am I right?

Photo credits: CreativeCommons. org

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


Strength Training: How Often Should I Vary My Workout?

Dear K and A: I keep hearing I should change up my weight lifting routine to avoid muscle memory, especially once past menopause. How often should I change my strength workout and to what degree? Do I vary the repetitions?  The weight amount? Or do I choose  completely different exercises? Gina, Texas

Dumbbell, one free weight

Keep Your Mind Clear, Body Confused

Kymberly: Dear Gina: As you are doin’ the Tighten Up in Texas, keep in mind this pithy and wise quote I made up myself: “Keep the mind clear and the body confused.” Always know what, why, and how you are performing your resistance exercises.  That’s keeping the mind clear.

And change up those resistance training exercises every so often. That’s where the body confusion comes in. Be careful not to mix up the two and wonder what the heck you are doing and why, but gosh, you sure have done it for a long time. That’s akin to saying “gee the food was bad, but at least they had big portions!”

Distinguish Muscle Adaptation and Progression vs Muscle Memory

Anyway, we are really talking adaptation and progression here, not muscle memory. You want muscle memory, which allows you to achieve good form and coordination. And you want to constantly push yourself to progress. Once you adapt to a move,  it’s time to vary the exercise in one of many ways.

pic of TRX plank tuck

Alexandra tries different equipment. Tries.

Alexandra: I want some muscle memory. I want to remember what, why and where my muscles are! I had them just a minute ago. I think they got lost behind my Buns of Cinna! Geez, at this point I have a Samwise and pithy quote that I made up, and it’s better than Kymberly’s. It is this “Frodo, Frodo, it’s me – Sam. You have Muscle Alzheimer’s.” I too want to adapt and progress, but I call it something different. I call it “I let my boys make it through their teen years by reminding myself it would soon be over, and I would again find harmony and joy in their company.” Adapt? Yup. Progress? They’re alive aren’t they? So some days I lift my car keys and purse 15 times as I contemplate running away for 3 years. Other days I lift my car just once, and contemplate hurling it, and myself, over a cliff. Light weights one day, heavy the next.

Change Up Your Strength Training Program

Push ups can be done anywhere

Change the angle of your exercise to push progress. Pushy push-ups!

K: Ummm, so where were we? Basically, adaptation can occur anytime between 1 and 12 weeks– for each new move. Unless you are Alexandra, then it’s a lifelong process. For you, Ginaroo, I would change up about 20-30 percent  of my workout every few weeks. Don’t completely throw out one routine for another all at once. Morph your routine with one, two, or three new approaches each week without getting caught up in exact formulas. If you no longer see or feel progress with a given exercise, change something about it.  If you feel stale with a move, throw out the old Cinnabuns. Couldn’t resist.

What Elements Do You Change When Weight Training?

As for what element to change, that is the fabulosity (made up that word too and proud of it!) of resistance training. You can select to change any number of elements to keep your body adapting upwards and program fresh:

  • Number of repetitions
  • Resistance, load, or intensity
  •  Equipment or modality (a fancy term I did not make up that generally means “type”) such as free weights or tubing instead of a machine for any given exercise.
  • Range of motion
  • Organizing principle or order of your routine: from large to small muscles instead of small to large, or from head to toe vs toe to head; alternate front and back or upper and lower; or sitting to standing exercises.
  • Pace of each exercise: instead of four counts up and four counts down on a lunge for instance, do two counts down and six counts up;
  • The exercise itself; trade out one with a similar goal or focus: chest press instead of push-up;
  • Add a balance or instability factor: stand on discs or a BOSU instead of the ground; have a narrow instead of wide stance.
  • Change the stabilizing muscles: sit on a ball for tricep extensions instead of standing.
  • Substitute an isometric for an isotonic exercise (Isotonic = a move that moves with the muscles under tension. Your muscles lengthen and shorten with contraction. Isometric = a move that holds also with the muscles under tension though you are not shortening and lengthening them. A plank is an example of an isometric exercise; a reverse curl up is isotonic).

So many ways to vary: the exercise itself, the equipment, the speed, the balance factor, the resistance factor, the range of motion, the order of your routine. Get happy and choose what appeals to you.

A: Forget your troubles, come on get happy, gonna chase all your weight away. Said Hallelujah, come on get happy, get ready for the push-ups day! What appeals to me has nothing to do with working out. It involves curly dark hair and manly t-shirt smell. Really, I just go to the gym and work out so I can sniff the hotties. Oh, and I’m paid.

Total Gym workout side lunges

Who likes side lunges?

K: And whoever said to change your routine to avoid muscle memory, needs to read our blog in a big way. You change your routine to avoid lack of progress from overadaptation. Force the body to adapt upwards. Just as I have had to adapt to having a twin who lifts car keys for a workout. As you can tell by the fine quality of my advice, I do all the heavy lifting for her.

Take Action Today to get stronger! Looking to improve your strength and lose weight with exercises that are specifically designed for women over 50? Check out our other posts on weight training, strength, and busting muscle building myths.  We double dare you to click those links to see how you can get MORE fit and fab!

You will then be so strong you will want to subscribe to our blog to get active aging answers twice a week. Subscribe now in the box above or to the right.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

How to Fit in Exercise When You Don’t Have Time to Exercise

Over the years we’ve heard from many women about the difficulty they have finding time to exercise. Usually we get questions sent to our site asking a variation of “I know I need to exercise, but I don’t have time. What do you suggest?”

Surfers at Sunset in Santa BarbaraIn some ways the answer seems simple; we just should tell these women to make time, right? Of course, you and I both know the answer isn’t that simple, partly because the question isn’t that simple.

alleyway in black and white in Santa BarbaraWhat do I mean by that? In truth, the question isn’t necessarily a plea for solutions (though we have many solutions; some are listed below and some are linked to in this post and through the pictures). Before giving some answers about substituting A (Inactivity) for B (Activity) in ways that don’t add time demands to your day, let’s take a look at some of the actual meanings behind the question:

Tree roots from Moreton Bay FigI know I need to exercise, but I don’t want to, so I’ve made my day super busy so I can feel less guilty about not exercising.

I’m hoping you’ll tell me I’m okay, and that I don’t need to exercise.

Other people think I should exercise, but I don’t really agree, so I’m kicking this can down the road.

I actually hate to exercise, so please say you have an easy, “magic pill” solution that doesn’t involve sweating, exertion or a change of clothes.

close-up of mushroomAnd certainly, some want our expert input so they can make healthy changes to their routine.

red tiled bench in Santa BarbaraHere’s how you can discern whether you’re truly invested in finding a solution – after reading our suggestions, see if you’ve implemented any of them over the next two weeks. If so, you truly wish to make some changes. If not, you may be more comfortable choosing guilt, procrastination or plain old avoidance. As a person who is the full-time caretaker for two people, I can definitely say that there are times when it’s truly impossible to get in some “me” exercise time. And… as a person who’s a full-time caretaker for two people, I can also say that being too busy for exercise every single day for weeks, months or years is a choice.

Boat masts in Santa Barbara HarborWith that in mind, the following tips will be helpful to any of you who are ready to fit in exercise:

  • Every time you go to sit down, lower your butt just until it touches the chair, stand back up, then sit down. You’d be surprised at how many squats that adds up to
  • When waiting for someone at an appointment (I chauffeur two people around town nearly every day), go for a walk instead of sitting in the lobby. If you need to be present at the appointment, stand up and pace or do step-touches in the waiting room. No reason to sit still while you wait.
  • Arrange your kitchen so that you have to squat down low and reach up high to get everyday items.
  • When you are making phone calls (I make about 3,962 a day; all of them involving some sort of Hold Hell), pace around the room or do some strength training while you’re on hold (just remember to put the speakerphone on). Instead of sitting on hold, you can work out on hold.
  • Do you eat lunch? At your desk? In a chair? Watching TV? In a box with a fox? Why do you do that? Take your lunch with you and go for a walk. And if the weather’s crappy, walk indoors – the office, your dusty treadmill or even the local mega-mall.
  • No time to lie down on a mat and do some abs work? No problem. You can do standing core work. If you walk on the beach, and stand on one leg while taking off a shoe to dump sand out of it, you are doing standing core and balance work. Even without sand, you probably wear shoes every day, right? Try putting them on and taking them off while standing, without holding on to the table or counter.

tiled bench in Santa Barbara County CourthouseRecently I’ve posted quite a few pictures and scopes (videos on an app called Periscope – please follow me at @AlexandraFunFit), and gotten lots of comments about how I must be on a permanent vacation because I’m always out and about, walking around. No. I’m just finding a solution that works for me while I wait around for the people I drive. Walking and taking pictures and doing my scopes keeps me fit, not just physically, but also mentally. My stress level is under control for two reasons: 1 – I am outdoors walking, which means I am exercising AND getting the benefits of nature; and 2 – I made a conscious choice to do something that takes my mind off the many hours I am required to drive and wait and drive and wait and drive and wait. That choice gives me a feeling of control.

Santa Barbara MissionWhat tips would you add to the short list above?Ent in tree

P.S. Do you see the Ent holding up the tree and raising his arms and face to the sky in this picture? Look again.

by Alexandra Williams, MA (don’t forget to follow me on Periscope for my travel and fitness videos)


3 Seated Abs Exercises, plus Pretty Photos from Mexico

While teaching for a week at Rancho la Puerta Spa in Tecate, Mexico I managed to find a few spots that had wifi so I could share some abdominal moves on video.

swing at Rancho la Puerta in Tecate, MexicoThe three videos were done in real time via my Periscope account (if you have a Twitter account, you can get a Periscope account), but I saved them so that I could share them now with all of you. They are in portrait mode because Periscope isn’t yet set up for landscape mode, but the info is still 100% legit at any angle!

This video is the perfect place to start if you’re new to a stability ball or just want to ease into ab work:

This video adds an extra element to the video above:

This one adds the challenge of lifting your feet and moving your arms:

As it’s about a kabillion degrees IN THE SHADE here in Santa Barbara, my brain is melted, so I have no clever words. Instead, you get lovely photos from my trip to Tecate, including a BONUS photo of the beach where I grew up – Hermosa Beach. That makes this entire post worth its price – which is zero, of course, but still….

Welcome to Tecate sign

Playboy barber shop in Tecate, Mexico

park bench in Tecate, Mexico

sculpture at art museum in Tecate, Mexico


statue of woman behind a gate at Rancho la Puerta Spa

pool and cabana

wagon in a field of flowers

grove of trees in morning light

helicopter flying over lifeguard tower at the beachPlease follow me on Periscope for travel and fitness scopes (videos): I am at AlexandraFunFit.

As I’m trying to finance our medical coverage (we are no longer covered by work), I’d appreciate your input. I’m thinking of making note cards from some of my photos and selling them. Do you recommend this? If so, any suggestions where to sell them (besides Etsy)? Thanks.

by Alexandra Williams, MA



What Can You Gain By Attending an IDEA Fitness Convention?

We just got back from the annual IDEA World Fitness Convention, a gathering of 12,000 group fitness instructors, personal trainers, program directors, owners/ managers and duh-da-duh-da fitness enthusiasts.

backbend IDEA World Fitness convention

Rocking the fitness fashion with my SPIBelt holding my phone.

Put on by the industry association for fitness professionals, it has grown over the years to offer options for enthusiasts too. Two in particular might appeal to you when making your 2016 plans for July.

Expo Hall
Ahnu yoga shoesEntrance is free, so that’s a super incentive right there. Several hundred companies, ranging from heavyweights Reebok, Merrithew/ Stott Pilates, TRX, General Mills, and Lorna Jane to smaller and newer companies such as Ahnu Footwear, Siggi’s Dairy, Lolé Fitness Apparel, LaBlast Dance Fitness, and Functional Aging Institute were offering samples, demonstrations, workouts and discounts to visitors.

No matter what your age, ability, fitness level, or health preferences, you could find something of interest. Just a few of the types of free workouts – indoor cycling, slacklining, Core Stix, interval training, walking, dance, suspension training, strength training, treadmills & cardio machines, Pilates, yoga, competitive events – are enough to get you thinking, “Wow, for the price of, um, ZERO, I can work out all day if I want.”

Intel Recon Jet glasses

You can also shop for just about anything you need for fitness – clothing, shoes, apps, tech gear, equipment, healthy food, supplements, skin care, water in all kinds of forms (we saw dark brown mineral water that tasted just like clear water), education, pain relief, music. I’m wearing the Recon Jet glasses above from Intel.

OGIO backpack at IDEA ExpoBesides eating lots of free samples, I got a free functional fitness assessment. I didn’t do well, thanks to my knee that needs reconstruction, and my shoulder/ wrist injury, but at least I have additional information about ways I’m compensating. I also won free custom shoes from Reebok, and my sis won an Intel Basis Peak fitness/ sleep tracker. Other people won free spa weeks, a Schwinn indoor bike, mini-fridges, protein packs/ bars, clothing, music, training, books, and on and on and on.

I did a scope of the Expo Hall if you want video. And Periscope doesn’t allow horizontal filming yet, so bear with it on vertical. Oh, please also follow me on Periscope – AlexandraFunFit

Fitness Fanatics Day
Beto Perez doing Zumba at IDEA WorldYou don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to sign up for this, because once you participate in just one of the workouts, you’ll become one – it’s that fun. Open to both convention attendees and the general public, Saturday was a full day of workouts lead by the fitness celebrities who created them: Jillian Michaels, Todd Durkin, Leslie Sansone, Beto Perez and Jeanette Jenkins.

I didn’t do the workouts, as I was covering them for IDEA Fitness Journal and didn’t have time, but I did stop in to all of them, and can tell you that the room was packed for all five sessions, and the exercisers were having the time of their lives.

Jeanette Jenkins at IDEA WorldIf you’ve never enjoyed exercise, this “time of your life” concept will sound weird, but it just means you haven’t found the RIGHT exercise yet. I was really tapping my feet and wishing I could just stay in the “3 Mile Walk Concert With Leslie Sansone.” That was my favorite because it was easily accessible to nearly everyone. I saw people in there who represented typical Americans. This was not a class for the fit people; it was a class for the people. And since I’m a Boomer (with injuries) and I teach older adults (and university students), I am drawn to these inclusive kinds of workouts.

Next year the IDEA World Fitness Convention is back in Los Angeles July 13-17. Mark it in your calendar now. You’ll recognize me. I’ll be the one standing on the side of the room taking notes and tapping my feet. Except when the disco songs start. Then I set my stuff down and “help” the leaders show the youngsters how it’s done.

by Alexandra Williams, MA


What is the Right Amount of Exercise?

Hi, So much advice is given about adding exercise to your day. I work on my feet all day. 6 1/2 to 7 hours a day. I stand and move around a lot. When I am busy waiting on customers, I am moving and walking and walking quickly to get their food, replace things used up, filling areas etc. When it is slower, I stand more but still walk around some and do other things job related. I get a 15 min. break. How much more exercise do I need? I do not get aerobic exercise. I occasionally do yoga and go for a walk. Plus I do minor yard work, weeding, trimming of bushes etc. Also, general cleaning in my house. My husband and I go out dancing once a week or so. I am 59 and wonder if I actually need more exercise. Thanks for any answers you can give me. Marie

walking is great for health
Hi Marie:
You have brought up a great point about the true definition of exercise, especially aerobic exercise.

One standard definition of aerobic exercise via the American College of Sports Medicine is “any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature.” It should also cause the heart and lungs to work harder than at rest. In other words, surprise! You actually ARE getting aerobic exercise with all your walking and dancing, which is great for your heart, weight and cognition. That house cleaning you’re doing also burns calories. We actually charted out the calorie counts for many housekeeping chores in our post Lose Weight Doing House Cleaning.

picture of Lily weights from Bling Fitness
I AM going to say you need more exercise, though. Just not aerobic necessarily. You don’t mention any resistance training (though you do get flexibility and mind/body points for the yoga). At our age (we are right behind you by a few birthdays), it’s imperative to include resistance work into your life – both with light and heavy resistance (You can define what’s light and heavy for yourself, especially as they will change as you get stronger). Just a few of the benefits:

* weight loss / weight maintenance
* fall prevention / balance
* prevent or delay sarcopenia (muscle wasting)
* bone density
* posture
* functional strength (the ability to use your body in daily living activities)
* brain health
* fat burning
* recovery from injury / illness
* sexy good looks

push-up resistance trainingIn short, you need to continue with your cardio (aerobic) movement, which is probably no problem, since you are moving all day at work, and you need to add resistance (strength) training. To answer your “how much” question – start with 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes. Very quickly, I’m going to mention proper sleep and good nutrition too. <——- See how quickly I did that?

As you didn’t specify your goal – weight loss, general health, independence, fitness, brain power, looks – you’ll want to adjust the amount, frequency, duration and type of movement according to your goals. In case it gets confusing, we have another post for you to check out: Do THIS if you want to Get Fit, Lose Weight, Live Longer, DeStress .

A good place to start for resistance training might be at our colleague Tamara’s New To Strength Training? An At-Home Beginner Workout Just For You post.
We also have a number of relevant free videos on our YouTube channel, including our “Women Over 50” playlist.

Thank you for writing to us.

by Alexandra Williams, MA


Cross Your Legs: Don’t Sneeze: The Boomer’s Exercise Dilemma

Alexandra Williams, MA

I’ve been teaching fitness since the early 1980s, when exercise was all about high impact. What did I care? I was young and fit and more to the point, I hadn’t given birth, so all those jumping jacks were easy.

Depend photo shootThen I had the audacity to give birth in the mid-90s to two big-headed babies. I could Kegel all day and Kegel all night, but I just wasn’t the same. Have you ever tried to do jumping jacks while simultaneously crossing your legs? Doesn’t work, no no no.

In the late 90s I was teaching a strength training class (no jumping involved at all), and a student came up to me during a break in the workout to very delicately ask me if I was aware that I might want to “er, run to the ladies’ room, as I was, um, sweating on my backside.” I think she was more embarrassed than I, but it made me realize that Kegels and wishful thinking weren’t enough to keep me dry throughout class.

Fast forward to 2015 after years of wearing liners and pads during my more intense workouts. I teach at a university, so my students are young and love intense workouts. Okay, “love” is maybe too strong a term, but never mind that now. I want to focus on the students, without having to worry if I jump or sneeze or cough. Sure, I’d be embarrassed if my students thought I had peed my pants, but more importantly, they’d be uncomfortable if they were worrying for me. Little do they know how hard it is to embarrass me. Part of my job is to make the workout focused on them, not me.

Running in Depend ActiveFit BriefsEnter the brand-new Depend Silhouette Active Fit moderate absorbency lower-rise briefs, which you can find at Walmart. Reaction #1 – ack, aren’t these for my parents? Reaction #2 – maybe I’ve turned into my parents. Reaction #3 – times have changed; I’ll check these out.

My findings:

  • Very smooth, not bulky, which means I can wear them under my fitness capris and not look like my butt got attacked by Wisconsin cheese curds.
  • Moderate (not heavy) absorbency, which is what I need. No major issues, just a need for some back-up to keep my backside dry. hahahahah. That’s my best Power Pee joke.
  • They feel and look just like briefs, not geezer gear.

This is the point in the story where you are encouraged to say, “Prove it” to me. So I shall by directing you to the video below. I am wearing the Depend Silhouette Active Fit briefs in the video. Check out my butt. Go ahead. For scientific purposes.

Notice the high quality of the photos and video, and how I look so fabutastic?! That’s because I was a model for a day. You’ll see the print ads in magazines such as Women’s Day, and the video at Walmart. I’m a SuperStahhhhh.

I am participating in a VIN campaign for Depend. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with Depend and do not earn a commission or percent of sales. Of course, I dare you to try some of the jumps I did in the video. No commission to me for that, but it would make me smile.


Actively Aging with People Your Own Age

Alexandra Williams, MA

Last weekend’s BAM – Bloggers at Midlife conference – was the first time I’ve been around a large group of people my same age since my ten-year high school reunion in the 80s. I enjoy being with people of all ages, yet there is something to be said for spending time with people who have similar concerns, interests, cultural references, histories, fears and joys.

Photo credit to Lori Moreno

Photo credit to Lori Moreno

According to research by the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy, “being part of a cohort – a tight-knit, reliable, common-purpose group – is very important in different ways.” Not only were we tight-knit, we were on a mission to squish as many people as possible onto a couch. Sort of like a slumber party, but with a reasonable amount of sleep.

As humans, we strive to create meaning in our lives, which we do by growing, learning and giving. We do these things best when we have connections. Connections with women who both support and challenge me helps me create meaning, especially when I believe those women understand me, or at least have the framework to share a language that leads to understanding.

Kymberly's ABC class students. Photo by Dorothy Salvatori

Kymberly’s ABC class students. Photo by Dorothy Salvatori

Okay, that’s all well and good and counselor-ish, but just like exercise, if it’s not fun, we aren’t going to do it. Speaking of which, our exercise classes for BAM were at 7 a.m. which we discovered was a bit out of the majority of the attendees’ comfort time zone. So now we have a conundrum to solve – how to help midlife women realize that you gain energy for a long day by getting up early to work out. In any case, Kymberly’s Abs, Balance, Core class and my Drums Alive workout were really fun for all who were there, as evidenced by these comments from Candace Karu of Cabot Cheese and Rebecca Olkowski.

picture of Alexandra with drumsticks

We didn’t actually do Drums Alive on the Nissan; we used chairs.

As I’ve aged, I’ve discovered that I’m an outgoing introvert, or maybe an extrovert who likes a lot of “listening and observing” time. While teaching or presenting (we also gave a talk about media kits for bloggers) I am very animated and sociable, yet found that much of my “people enjoyment” came from listening to others’ stories. Are you more of a talker or a listener? I found it extremely satisfying to hear the stories my friends (which was everyone at the conference) shared – stories of loss, powerlessness, poverty, struggle, heartbreak, exhilaration, achievement and reinvention. These stories enabled me to feel part of the “girl gang” as we all have histories that got us to where we are now.

The “In” Group
Do you ever feel like you are on the outside looking at those on the inside? I do sometimes, especially at my job at the university, where every year I’m a year older and the students are still 20. My heart and plans and thoughts and desires all feel young to me, yet sometimes my body reminds me that I’m in my 50s. Sometimes my two boys make me feel old, simply because they are now grown up. I don’t want to be young again, yet certainly don’t see myself as old either. Being around a hundred women my age automatically put me into the “in” group. We were ALL good-looking and effervescent; fashionable and interesting. No-one was dismissed; there was no “outsiders” group. Doesn’t that sound like Friend Utopia?

pic of bowling at Pinewood SocialFriendship
Do you have a good balance of new and long-term friends? As I age, I find it important to make new friends as well as relishing my friendships that go as far back as a half-century. After the conference was over, Kymberly and I were taken on a Nashville sightseeing adventure by good friends we made via social media over the past few years – Kathy of Live the Fine Life, and Brenda (a single redhead from Alabama; hint to single guys). When I was young, I just accepted that everyone I met was my friend. As I aged, that changed, yet I still know when someone JUST IS my friend. I like the freedom age gives me to choose my friends based on nothing more than that I like them.

Nashville CapitolTravel
On that note, you get to see some pictures of downtown Nashville, courtesy of my desire to improve my photography skills. I don’t know if the BAM conference will be in Nashville in 2016, but I do know Nashville has lots to offer. I also know that I’ll be at the conference no matter where it’s held, because – Friends.

pic of Hats Boots sign in Nashvillepic of window at Union Hotel NashvilleUnion Hotel Nashville Lobbypicture of Hatch Printing, Nashvillemosaic entrance Betty Boots, Nashvillewarehouse with crooked windows Money
As Kathy Bates said in Fried Green Tomatoes, “Face it girls, I’m older and have more insurance.” In other words, we have money. And we’ll spend it with brands that acknowledge our existence. The sponsors of the inaugural Bloggers at Midlife conference deserve a shout-out for doing just that.
Support these brands:
Collective Bias
Vibrant Nation
Cabot Cheese
Always Discreet
1010 Park Place
Albertini Int.


One Way to Avoid Fainting During Cardio Workouts

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

heart shaped tomatoEver worry about fainting during a cardio workout? No doubt you have heard the advice to “keep your head above your heart” during and especially after aerobic activity. With Valentine’s Day coming up and February being American Heart month, we thought we’d focus on a question one of our group fitness members asked us: “Why do fitness instructors cue us not to drop our head below the heart when working out aerobically?”

Be Still My Beating (Cardio) Heart

Alexandra drumming at Tenaya

Alexandra makes more than hearts beat! Drum, drum, drum

Alexandra: We say this because we want to know exactly whom we will be giving rescue breathing to when you pass out. And why should we be in a position to provide rescue breathing? There you were, just exercising away, enjoying the heck out of the Paul McCartney, Rihanna, Kanye song “FourFive Seconds” being played on the sound system. “Hey you,” your personal wiring system says, “You are working hard. As a reward, your muscle cells shall now demand increased oxygen. Because your muscles are so bossy and demanding, we won’t argue. Instead, we will increase your heart rate and blood flow so your muscles will like us and continue to take us nice places.” Well, let’s say you drop your head below your heart. While your head is inverted, you don’t realize that you’ve just caused blood to pool along with that increased blood pressure.

Your Muscles, Heart, and Head Compete for Oxygen and with Gravity

Kymberly: Did anyone follow that? Twin translation provided here: Cardio exercise involves raising the heart rate. An uppity heart rate provides more oxygen to working muscles AND the brain. (We are hoping the brain is working during all that activity. Always makes exercise more interesting). Heart rate up, then head suddenly down puts gravity in charge. (See “Perky, Not Saggy” for more on overcoming the effects of gravity). Blood rush to head. Whoa, feeling dizzy. Lots of pressure from rapidly pumping blood and increased blood volume. Then you lift your head above your heart again and WHAM, gravity takes over once more leaving you lightheaded. Your heart pumped out the oxygen, but you just started a competition between gravity and your brain for the game of “who gets the oxygen?”  Need I say more?

K lying in snow

Stylish fainting

Alexandra: Don’t talk to me about pressure because it makes me want to dance in my inimitable 80s style to “Under Pressure.” That’s the song I used for my very first step class.

Fainting Does a Body Good-ish

Kymberly: Ok, I need to say more. First, fainting is your body’s way to restore normal blood flow to your brain. Dropping — or, as you may picture it, gracefully and delicately sliding to the ground, puts your head on the same level as your pumping, beating heart so that your oxygen rich blood can more easily get to your brain. No going uphill, just straight along.

Second, I have been CPR certified for more than 30 years. Fortunately, in all that time of teaching fitness, I have never had to rescue someone from the dreaded “head below heart- pass out” syndrome. Maybe this cue is really an excuse to see who’s listening and who is clock watching. ALWAYS listen to your instructor, especially if she looks like one of us.

Destress Your Heart for Valentine’s Day

Alexandra: Well, I am obviously more special as I have had to deal with the “Thar she blows” syndrome. Sadly, my university students have a habit of passing out lately. For about 3 years, they show up without having had a proper breakfast, then they put their heart and soul into their workout, with only the soul remaining intact. My theory? We need to provide more movement for students in the younger grades so their hearts are used to stress by the time they get to college. I use “stress” in its literal sense, though I remember having lots of “love stress” when I was an undergrad. As in – I was stressed because I wanted certain guys to notice me. Ah, my glorious youth.

ACTION ITEM: Help hearts, heads, and muscles by sharing this post with two friends and suggesting they subscribe to our blog. But only if they want to age actively and stay upright during cardio!

Photo credit for Alexandra with drumsticks – Tenaya Lodge

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