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2

Going from “Stuck” to “Start” with Your Fitness Plan

Boomers on the Loose graphic

Be Loose, Not Stuck!

Arrrrghhh! That’s the sound of you spending another day stuck in sedentary patterns stitched with good exercise intentions. Another day of you bartering with yourself in an Annie mood that “tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow” the sun will come out and shine differently on your workout plans. But no actual exercise has occurred on a consistent (or even intermittent) basis. How many “tomorrows” have come and gone that you now admit, yup, you’re stuck and need a prod to get going. As in “today!”

From Nothing to Something; From Some to Some More

Good news. We are here to prod. Cajole and bribe even! Did you attend our recent TransformAging webinar session, (Re)Starting Fitness After 50? Have you noticed the new freebie checklist we offer subscribers, 16 Easy Ways to Get Unstuck and More Fit? Then you’ll know that we are on a roll to address one of the most common requests we get: how to go from park to cruise mode; from inactive to active; from nuffink much to sumpin. Note I did not say to zoom from 0 to 60 off the starting line. In fact, starting small is one of our key pieces of advice.

Old Fashioned Whoop Ass

Need a kick in the keester to get unstuck?

Say So Long Suckahs to Sedentary Stuckness

Kymberly: Today is a great day to kiss frustration, inertia, and negative self-talk good-bye and say hello to restarting more active habits.

Alexandra: Can I at least have some French Vanilla ice cream with my inertia? And I didn’t know his name was Frustration when I kissed him. But I’d do it all again anyway.

Kymberly: For you, sis, you may partake of the can of Whoop Ass included in this post. For the rest of you, forget fitness trends, celebrity endorsements, or what you used to do when you were younger. We are so committed to helping you undo the glue that’s stuck on you that we are sending all of our current subscribers our checklist. Look for that in a separate email. Be sure to open the email and the document if you want to move more– more happily, comfortably, and successfully.  If you are reading this and not a subscriber, then subscribe. (Look right. Yes, that sidebar just there). You’ll get your own copy of “16 Easy Ways to Get Unstuck and More Fit” that way.

In addition to the easy action items we offer in the checklist we’ll be emailing you, try any of the following, additional tips to get going. You can do it! Today and tomorrow and the day after and thereafter. A step at a time.

8 Bonus Easy Ways to Get Unstuck Starting … Now! When Else?

Consider this post your Bonus Checklist. Otherwise we have to rename the main checklist “A Whole Bunch of Ways to Get Unstuck” and I am waaay too busy sitting at the computer paddling, biking, taking step class, and walking the dog to do that. So “Bonus” it is.

  1. Identify a space in your home where you can work out, even if it’s just big enough to fit a mat or towel on the floor.
  2. Forget the all or nothing, “practice makes perfect” approach. Practice makes progress. Practice makes permanent. Practice creates habits. Perfection is overrated and unsustainable. Simply do a little bit more than the day before.
  3. Set your expectations low to start. What’s the least you can do and commit to today? Tomorrow?
  4. Drink water. Instead of sugary drinks or ones that have the word “latte,” or “fountain” in them, or whipped cream, or carbonation combined with a can. See where I am going with this?  Being well water-drated will also minimize muscle soreness and fatigue.  Thats’ a twofer special right there!
  5. Find moves and activities you enjoy. This has been a recording. Beeeeep. Ever wonder why we named our blog “Fun and Fit?” Because we believe that movement can be enjoyable; that an active life is more appealing than a sedentary one; AND that at least some of the exercise you do has to be fun so you will actually do it. Oh, and because my sister is actually pretty funny. Yes, those of us who have crossed over to the other side know that it is more fun to move and groove than it is to think about it. And it definitely is not fun to force ourselves to perform exercises we hate. Bleeeeech! (as Mad Magazine used to say).
  6. Find a community to support you or at least one that will hold you accountable. Whether you pick someone in person, online, or long distance, make a pact with at least one other support person with whom you will actually check in. Maybe you’ll even find a workout buddy.
  7. Use technology if that works for you. Don’t use the lack of a pedometer, wrist tracking device, calorie counter or any other wearable technology as an excuse NOT to start. We are not Waiting for Godot or Go Pro around here. Just get out there with or without the latest gear. The lack of a device is not an obstacle to movement. However, if the presence of any wearable technology helps you giddy up, why then use it! Strap on and keep on truckin’!
  8. Have a restart Plan B. You will not meet your goals each day. That’s no reason  to give up. And by “reason” I mean “excuse.” Get back to the mat or gym or trail. Be prepared for the common, usual, and totally human reality that you will have “fail” days. What is your contingency plan when you get off track? Let’s hope it at least includes forgiving yourself, and looking to the future rather than berating the past.
Himalayas from airplane

Fly My Pretties, Fly!

Does one of the above actions speak to you? Then listen. And go for it. Between the “16 Easy Ways to Get Unstuck and More Fit” checklist and the action items above, you now have um, hold on as I get my fingers out, 22 Easy Tips to Get Going. You need just one to get unstuck and on the path to new active aging habits.

Didn’t get to our TransformAging Summit, but wonder about it? Find out how our webinar expert presenters can youthify and enhancify your post 50 years. Click this TransformAging page.

Sales image for TransformAging

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

12

Emotional Benefits of Walking Outdoors

Are you lucky enough to enjoy outdoor walks? Do you live in an area conducive to walking? Do you live where you can see the blue sea? What about the blue sky?

In addition to all the physical benefits of exercise, you can also reap emotional benefits. Read ‘em and Reap. heh heh

Foothills Nature Preserve in Santa BarbaraWhether it’s the feeling of being at one with nature, the smells, the sounds, the feeling of being a small part of a big world, or just escaping from the “grind” for a few minutes, a walk outside is a mood improver. Go dopamines, go. Swim with the endorphins.

Think how calm and peaceful you feel walking in a misty fog, or how centering it is to be out alone at dawn or dusk. Have you ever walked in the rain and inhaled the smell of the earth and water? Have you stormed out of the house in a bad mood, only to return refreshed and recovered after a walk around the block to “cool off?”

Boogie boards at Hendry's beach, Santa BarbaraWhen we were kids (5 kids, to be specific), my mom would make us go outside whenever we’d start to fight with each other. She’d also tell us to take a walk around the block (which only had 3 houses on it) when we were upset or sad. Somehow she intuitively knew the power of a walk outside. Or she just wanted us out of her hair. Or both.

In any case, I’m fortunate because I live in Santa Barbara, where almost every walk has a gorgeous view. So even though I know an indoor treadmill will give me lots of fitness and health benefits, I will never give up my outdoor walks. Because they give me mental health benefits. And a chance to set aside my responsibilities for a while.

Enjoy these pictures taken on some of my adventures. Then get yourself outside and take your own pictures.
Arlington Theatre Lobby in Santa Barbara

Rope swing on big tree

discarded flower on marble bench

curved wall at Orpet Park, Santa Barbara

sun float at Solstice Parade

Read my sister’s post about 3 Ways to Work Out Naturally. You’ll understand why “nature” is the root of “naturally.” You’ll also find out why I asked about the blue sea and sky.

Alexandra Williams, MA 

2

If Calories and Exercise Don’t Control Your Weight, What Does?

Swig From This Fountain of Truth

As children, we learned about Ponce de León and the mythical Fountain of Youth. But did you know it actually exists? Not in a creepy, Dorian Gray way either. Every town, every home, and every person has access to the fountain; it’s just known under a different name now. The Fountain of Youth’s true name is …

Boomer Woman On Lake

Exercise

Ah, ah, ah, don’t get discouraged by that word. You probably thought “easy” when you read “fountain of youth,” and “hard” when you read “exercise.” But what if the path to exercise was much easier than you thought? What if moving and eating better and more appropriately for our midlife years were as easy as the not-so-helpful habits you currently have?Connie (or Coco) stretching at Rancho la Puerta

Our TransformAging Webinar Summit is ready to go, and you’re invited to join our 8 experts for this 6-video series that will get you slapping your forehead and saying, “Gee, I could’ve had a V8 restarted my fitness years ago if I’d realized it wouldn’t be so overwhelming.”

Tips from TransformAging to Transform You

Look below for a few hot tips in the ol’ town tonight that come from the various TransformAging sessions. You’ll get solutions and antidotes for all the Fit Facts below. But first, a few quiz questions to whet your Fountain of Youthiness thirst and appetite:

  1. At what age does muscle mass peak? The answer may surprise you.
  2. Do you have a “Stay Fat” or “Stay As You Are” strategy that keeps you stuck?
  3. And as the title of this post asks, “if calories and exercise are not controlling your weight, what is?” huh? huh? Gotta attend the webinar to find out. Or google it. Be that way!
  4. What is the actual cost of free radicals? Yes, they affect you, inside and out.
  5. If you want youthful skin, you have 9 actions under your control. How many of those 9 things are you doing, if any?
  6. Are you better off doing seated or standing exercises as you get older?
  7. Which gender averages more years (almost 9) spent in illness, especially in our older years?

Older, active woman on a swing

Choose One Action: Register or Regret

If you don’t want to be that person spending the last 8 to 9 years of your life ill and in pain, then register for this TransformAging Summit. (If you don’t want to be the caretaker for that person then our webinar series is for you and your loved one).  The sooner you take the steps to age actively, the better your upcoming years will be.

So step up to some more of those Fit Facts from the Summit, we say!

  • If you’re not losing fat, you’re losing muscle
  • Cardio makes you smaller, while resistance training training reshapes you
  • Did you know that each chronic condition you have reduces life expectancy by 1.8 years!?
  • We become more sensitive to carbs as we age, so need to decrease sugar and starch
  • Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger cues
  • Sleep resets hunger hormones, and decreases cortisol levels
  • As we age, we are eating too much, even though we may be eating less than in our younger years
  • Your plan for success needs to be at least as detailed as your plan for failure
  • You have a reason for NOT making change

TransformAgingOrangebanner

In case you didn’t have a chance to read our post giving all the info about the TransformAging Webinar, we’ll list the six video titles again so you can see just how tremendous this FREE (on 6/03 & 6/04) summit is:

  1. (Re)Starting Fitness After 50 (This one’s ours)
  2. Resistance Training: Your After-50 Easy Weight Management Program (Debra Atkinson MS)
  3. Midlife Weight Gain, Hormones, and Menopot: Strategies for Staying Slim Without Losing Your Sanity (Tamara Grand PhD)
  4. Supplementation and Skincare to Transform Aging Inside & Out: What’s Really Needed? (Mo Hagan BSc PT)
  5. Age Be Damned: 7 Dimensions of Active Aging (Colin Milner)
  6. Never Grow Old! Strategies for Making the NEXT 50 years BETTER than the first! (Dan Ritchie, Phd and Cody Sipe Phd)

Register Right Here – It Costs you $000000 (that’s zero multiplied) for the live broadcast this Wednesday and Thursday at 2:30 pm PDT. And don’t worry – if you cannot watch all six at their original broadcast times, you can get them later for a teeny, tiny payment that’s lower than you’d pay for just one of the workouts Debra Atkinson provides in her session. And put all the money you just saved into the vacation kitty for your future dream trip to Rancho la Puerta spa, a health and wellness retreat just east of San Diego. The Perfect Place for People who want to age actively!

Thank you Rancho la Puerta for sponsoring our TransformAging Summit! You sure know how to make a person feel good!Rancho la puertaNow go register. Listen at your leisure.

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

4

Transforming Ourselves Inside and Out

You SAY you want to start again with a fitness program that is tailored to your midlife body; that you intend to move more often, though comfortably; that you’d love to be strong enough to enjoy the second half of life even more than the first. You now have the chance to put your money where your menopot is!

We recently told you about our TransformAging Webinar Summit for Women Over 45, which is only a week away, on June 3 and 4 starting at 5:30 pm EST/2:30pm PT and accessible for 48 hours at no cost.fountain at Rancho la PuertaA Fountain of Youth really does exist, and it’s free to you. Just like this TransformAging Summit that’s sponsored by our long-time friends, Rancho la Puerta Resort.  sponsorRegistration is now open, so sign-up here to join us. So easy. Just like many of the active aging secrets we and 5 other fitness experts will share with you.

Have you thought back to movement you used to do and decided “I need something more attainable and less intense now that I am in my second half of life”?  Yet you still want to enjoy all that life has to offer, in a comfortable, sensible way? So have we. As a matter of fact, so many of you have contacted us asking for exactly these sessions, that we gathered up the BEST presenters just for you.

labyrinth at Rancho la PuertaWhy stay in one of the 7 circles of hormone and weight gain hell, when you can stroll the labyrinth of a comfortable life? This six-video collection offers practical strategies to make the second half of life as rewarding as the first. Take at gander at the session titles:

  1. (Re)Starting Fitness After 50 (Twin One and Twin Two)
  2. Never Grow Old! Strategies for Making the NEXT 50 years BETTER than the first! (Dan Ritchie, Phd and Cody Sipe Phd)
  3. Midlife Weight Gain, Hormones, and Menopot: Strategies for Staying Slim Without Losing Your Sanity (Tamara Grand PhD)
  4. Resistance Training: Your After-50 Easy Weight Management Program (Debra Atkinson MS)
  5. Supplementation and Skincare to Transform Aging Inside & Out: What’s Really Needed? (Mo Hagan BSc PT)
  6. Age Be Damned: 7 Dimensions of Active Aging (Colin Milner)

If you’re like Chris O’Dowd in Bridesmaids (love that movie), you’re probably saying, “Really? Really?” by now in a sexy Irish accent because you cannot believe we said you could get all 6 videos for free. But we cannot tell a lie (a different movie altogether) – you get them FREE for 48 hours. That’s 2 days (June 3 & 4), 6 videos, 8 experts, and 1 YOU, gaining access to interviews, practical tips, and easy-to-follow strategies geared specifically toward Over-45 Women.

See the picture just below? That’s Alexandra at Rancho la Puerta a few weeks ago. Does that look like strength training? It is. Does it look fun? It was. Movement is fun. Climbing stuff is fun. Eating well is fun. Going to a spa resort with friends is fun. Hiking through the grove shown below is fun. And all of this liveli-fun-ness is accessible to you too, once you make a few simple changes to your daily habits.

Climbing at Rancho la Puerta

Oh excuse me, but isn’t that Kymberly doing an even livelier version of the post-hike, archway hang? And she’ll hang there until you register for our TransformAging Summit. Please hurry and do so as those rocks can be slippery!

Hanging from R la Pa P arch

Did you Register Right Here yet?

Grove of trees at Rancho la PuertaNow you get some lovely pictures taken at Rancho la Puerta, which is about an hour’s drive east of San Diego. We partnered with them because they are the ideal fitness and health resort for Boomer women. Even if you spend all your time lounging at the pool and getting massages, you’ll still get more fit, thanks to two other key components of active aging that the Ranch offers that have nothing to do with exercise or food. Wonder what those two other things are that can help or hinder your ability to age actively? You’ll have to either go to Rancho la Puerta or attend our webinar series to find out.

pool at Rancho la Puerta

walkway at Rancho la PuertaLet your Inner Fabulosity Bloom. And in case you’re too tired to scroll back up, here is the registration link once again. We invite you to join us on June 3 and 4.

flower at Rancho la Puerta

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

9

Intro to Planks

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Often, people are reluctant to attempt a plank because they’ve heard that you have to hold a long-lever plank for 5 minutes in order to be “cool.” Not true. Planks are accessible to nearly everyone, as many versions exist.

Perfect Form Plank - Oh Yeah!

Perfect Form Plank – Oh Yeah!

If you’re considering adding a plank to your fitness regimen, this video shows four different modifications, and instructions for good form.

Proper Technique:

  • Planks are more effective if you rest on your elbows, not your hands
  • Elbows directly below the shoulders
  • Hands loose and relaxed; a correlation exists between clenched fists and breath-holding
  • It’s better for your lower back to have your hips slightly piked rather than dropped, though a straight line is your goal
  • Pretend you are wearing a belt, and tighten all places where it would touch

One caveat: We mention holding for 30 seconds in the video, but research also indicates you can hold for as little as 20, take a short break, then get back into plank position. Whether you choose 20 or 30 second intervals, stick with the plank position that gives you the best form.

While we’re on the subject of good form, this is the second of two videos that Depend Silhouette Active Fit shot with me as one of the models.

For the video where I do some jumps (using the core strength I earned doing lots of plank intervals), read our recent post: Cross Your Legs; Don’t Sneeze: The Boomer’s Exercise Dilemma.

While we’re at it, you may also want to enter for a chance to win one of three sets of KettlePOP non-GMO, organic kettlecorn and sea salt popcorn.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

4

How to Handle Weight Gain When You Suffer Loss

How to Handle Weight Gain When You Suffer Loss

White flowerWhite flowerWhite flowerDear Alexandra and Kymberly: I just lost my husband, Julian to cancer. Due to all the hospital appointments, my eating habits also got lost! I have put on a lot of weight, but feel so tired and lethargic I can’t get into the mood to do exercise. I have damage to my neck, knees, and lower back (due to a fall) plus my midriff and waist have become “large” and I have lost my waistline. At 69 years young this is depressing me. I am also worried about a “ledge” at the bottom of my tummy and scared it will be “resting” on the top of my legs when I sit down!!!

As well, I look after my 96 year young Mum, who has no balance anymore due to cancer and other problems. So she is only able very slowly to get from one room to another downstairs. I get to bed about 1:30am once my Mum’s medication kicks in and she falls asleep. She usually wakes me about 7am to go to the toilet, then goes back to bed until 10:00. (She is in a hospital bed in my living room so isn’t able to get up by herself). I have been looking after my Mum for 3 years and my husband for the last 2 and half, so have had little sleep etc. which may be the reason I feel tired. Since Julian died, I am still running around for Mum, but not doing the right things to lose the “middle” weight.

I need all the help I can get!! I appreciate other people’s input so have included my name. Kindest regards, Patricia of Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

Dear Patricia: Wow! Talk about the perfect storm for changes to your body, mood, and energy levels! We’re amazed and honored you have time to write to us for advice. Fortunately, we have some practical suggestions that may help you and other widows, post menopausal women, and caregivers gain energy and lose weight. (Check out what we told caregivers who wrote to us with similar concerns: A Workout Plan to Lose Weight When You Are a Caregiver)Exercisers vs non-Exerciserspicmonkey_image Exercisers vs non-Exercisers

First, Deal with Your Diet

  1. Get back to your (implied) healthier eating habits asap. To reduce pounds you have to focus more on calories in (food and drink) than out (exercise and movement). (Yes, we know the UK measures in pounds, just like we crazy North Americans across the pond). While exercise will help keep any lost pounds off, diet is what will jump start your weight loss in the first place.
  2. Try to eat at home as much as possible using ingredients instead of processed food that comes in packages.
  3. Start your day with breakfast, maybe right after you help your mom back to bed. Not knowing more about your eating habits makes it tough to give specific advice, but the above changes will start to whittle that waistline towards the worry-free zone.

Starlights at RanchStarlights at RanchStarlights at RanchStarlights at RanchStarlights at RanchSecond, Sleep More

  1. Find time to get more sleep. Whether you nap or adjust your nighttime sleeping schedule, you need to snooze between 7-8 hours per night in order to avoid more weight gain and to help drop what you’ve already put on. Doesn’t that seem counterintuitive AND too good to be true? In general, people who get fewer than 6 hours’ daily sleep tend to eat more as they are awake more. And hormones that regulate appetite are thrown into disarray with the sleep-deprived. Take a look at our post, 3 Stealth Saboteurs of Your Weight Loss to help you prioritize guilt-free naps or going back to bed briefly after breakfast. (That’s a lot of Bs in a row, right?)Meditating woman - artwork
  2. According to research from the University of Michigan, an extra hour of sleep each night can help you drop 14 pounds per year. Reading our past posts on the subject of sleep and stress (such as Do This if You Want to Get Fit, Lose Weight, Live Longer, and Destress) should not put you to sleep, however.
  3. If you cannot nap or extend your nighttime restoration hours, engage in short, daily bouts of mindfulness, meditation, or guided visualization. If you enter “Meditation” in our search bar you will find several posts on ways and whys to get started.

Third, Move to Manage Your Middle

  1. Doing a side plank on the Ranch bridgeFinally we get to our favorite part–Movement!! When you are sitting with your Mom/Mum, don’t sit! Stand, walk in place, go down the stairs then back up then back down then back up whenever you check on her. This last suggestion will take only an extra few minutes, especially if you add some speed to this action. Then you will also get some High Intensity Interval Training benefits (mentioned in Best Workouts to Burn Fat for Women Over 50).
  2. 20140825_134356Doing a side plank on the Ranch bridgeDoing a side plank on the Ranch bridgeKnowing how hard it is to get moving when tired, can you work in some strength training exercise early in the day? Early morning exercisers tend to be more consistent and successful with reaching their goals. Maybe some mornings you snatch a few more minutes of sleep after helping your mom go the bathroom; other mornings you do some lunges, push-ups, squats, and side- or knee-planks (easier on your back) before the day zaps your energy. Once you start moving more you will actually find your energy levels going up.
  3. If you watch tv with your mom, use the commercials as time to move. Walk in place; press yourself from from your chair, standing then sitting a few times; lie down and whip out a few ab exercises. If you know you are committing to just a few minutes during the ads you may be more able to find the energy to get restarted.
  4. When you are feeling particularly fatigued, ask yourself what the LEAST activity you could muster up is. Even a little bit of movement will propel you towards success. And a little success begets a little more success.
  5. As well, take a look at past posts of ours that offer solutions to the fat attracting combo of stress, eating habits gone awry, loss, insufficient sleep, and minimal movement.

If you have a weensy bit more time and energy, then click over go to our YouTube Channel where you can find exercises just right for your goals and capabilities.

Let us know how you fare and feel free to comment below, especially once others share their tips and support. We offer our condolences on your husband’s death.

TransformAging posterANNOUNCEMENTS: For more on restarting your fitness program, keep your eyes, ears, and mind open for our upcoming webinar, TransformAging. Coming in late May, handpicked experts in midlife wellness for women will offer practical solutions and the most relevant answers to popular questions on how to age better than any prior generation! Hosted by us at no cost to you!

Doing a side plank on the Ranch bridgeTransformAging 1

Webinar attendees will also be the first to get the details on our first ever, brand new, fit-tastic workout program specifically designed for women over 50 who want to (re)start active lives.

13

What Do Exercisers Know That Non-Exercisers Don’t?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

7 Secrets Exercisers Use to Motivate Themselves

Kymberly at Ranch in treeNashville bowling- AlexandraYou SAY you want to be more fit and active. You really MEAN to work out more. But somehow the days, weeks, months, dare we say “years” slip by and there you are — still intending to finally be more active but not actually doing much about it. Forget guilt, self-beratement, and worrying about having excuses that last longer than your most recent resolution.

What it is that regular exercisers have figured out that keeps them on track? More to the point, what can you learn from those ratfinks enlightened, fortunate individuals that will get you up and moving?

  1. Regular, committed exercisers have figured out the “why” behind their activity and linked it to their values. They don’t work out just to work out; they have a bigger purpose or goal driving them.
  2. Fit people have made movement a habit so they no longer need to exert extreme willpower in order to stay “on track.”
  3. Many (though certainly not all) movers and shakers do activities they enjoy.
  4. Exercisers know how they will feel after their activity and are able to remind themselves of the joy and satisfaction they’ll feel post workout.Alexandra on trail
  5. Active agers have found ways to account for excuses, such as not having enough time, being uncomfortable, or feeling too tired. Their movement experience confirms that they’ll have more energy, feel less fatigued, feel happier in their bodies, and prioritize workout time BECAUSE they exercise.
  6. Lifelong exercisers have tuned in and turned on to —— and this is a biggie! —— the benefits exercise brings beyond visual results. Sure, they also want to look great. But they get hooked on the internal, non-visible rewards of an active life. Because those benefits are so pervasive, exercisers are consistently being rewarded even when not in front of a mirror or on a scale.
  7. Active people surround themselves with others who are active. They seek out people who share their commitment to movement, even if it means tuning out inactive family members, coworkers, and “friends” who might sabotage their efforts.

(Like the chart I made? Please feel free to pin the heck out of it.)

what exercisers know image

Bonus Story and Quick Quiz Question about taking a magic fitness pill:

If you could take a magic pill (yes, one that tastes good, has no side effect, costs nothing, and is small) that instantly gave you the body measurements you want for the rest of your life, would you swallow it if it meant never being able to exercise again?

Behold the mighty Nashville statueEnter your comments below. Then read how this breaks down for others.

Non-exercisers grab for the gusto with a hearty “heck yeah, I’d swig that pill down! And what do you mean when you say ‘able to exercise?’ Don’t you mean ‘HAVE to exercise’?”

Exercisers break into two camps: most say “hmmm, tough choice, but ultimately I’d pass as the other benefits of exercise outweigh simply looking good. No magic pill for me, gracias”

The second camp of exercisers tries to negotiate: “any chance I could take that magic pill AND still work out regularly? Then I’d get the best of all options.”

Did you see that coming? Speaking of which, if you want to keep our active aging answers coming, be sure to subscribe. Now is a good time. Do it. Do it.

4

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

8

Great Gait! Seven Steps to Better Walking

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
picture of hike at Rancho la Puerta

Go for a walk

Any time of year is a great time to take a walk, but at this time of year you see hundreds of news reports and blogs touting the benefits of a Thanksgiving Day walk. Have you ever wondered if the WAY you walk is helping or hindering?

Kymberly just gave a fabulous workshop at Rancho la Puerta about gait, and I thought I’d share some of her tips so that you can figure out if your gait is aging you or supporting your continued youthfulness.

Gait workshop at Rancho la Puerta spa by Kymberly Williams-Evans

Kymberly is giving some pro tips about gait

Pace. Comfort. Stride

Walk across the room, turning at the wall and repeating the walk for several rounds. How quickly do you go? How comfortable are you, especially at the knees, lower back and neck? How small or big is your stride? Notice whether or not you have to touch the wall to turn, make a wide circle, or pivot quickly. Pay attention to your balance. Be aware of your stride length, especially if it’s small, which means you don’t trust your balance, though you are actually at MORE risk of falling with a shortened stride.

Arm Swing

Go watch SpongeBob Squarepants and take a look at how he propels himself forward. See those flapping arms? Nothing going on from shoulder to elbow, but lots of movement from elbow to hands. If this is you, we bet your elbows hurt after a long walk. Same thing if you’re a wrist flapper. Ideally, you want a long arm that reaches out in front of you. And… you want the arm in back to be reaching behind just as far. At the top of your arm swing, you should have a triangle formed from both hands and the shoulder. In other words, what goes on behind you is as important as what’s happening in front.

hiking at Rancho la Puerta spa

Use your arms and legs in opposition

Look and Listen

What do you see when you focus? What do you hear? What is powering your forward movement? It’s possible you favor one side, especially if you’ve had any kind of leg injury. If you can get someone to listen as you walk (without looking at you), a limp or compensation just might reveal itself. So often we are asked why the left leg (for example) hurts when it was the right leg that had the injury. The answer is that the left leg is overtired from being overused due to overcompensation. So get over it!

Pulling from Hamstrings vs Pushing from Glutes

Use power muscles to power your stride. Are you using your front or back leg to propel? If you want a shapely booty, push from the glutes. As we mention in our post “Why is My Body in Pain After Running and Walking,” running and walking require different muscle emphasis. Pulling from the hamstrings on the front leg will just make them hurt, and might also cause pain behind the knee. Besides, who doesn’t want a shapelier tush?

picture of Ahnu shoes

Remember to look down every so often when on a walk

Slow Mo’ Walk

Slow your walk way down and observe what happens throughout your body. Does your head bob forward or side to side? Maybe your walk improves. Maybe it falls to pieces. Notice if your arms keep moving or freeze in place. Especially note whether you start to move homolaterally (same arm and leg go forward rather than opposing arm and leg). Do you feel less or more stable?

Head and Chin Check

If your head is forward and down, that’s where you are headed (hahaha. so punny). Your head needs to be above your body, not in front of it. Not only does “text neck” increase your risk of migraines and back strain, it also increases your risk of falling. Ever notice those people who are hunched over with their faces actually looking at the ground? See how their elbows are back behind them for balance? They didn’t get that way overnight. To check if that hunchback will be you, do the chin check. Stand in neutral position (read “Finding Neutral Spine” for a full explanation). Put a finger to your chin. Hold your finger in place. Retract head 2-3 times. Mark any gap. A big gap means you are a forward head thruster. A small gap means you win free neutral spine for life!

Zip Trick

Remember how we mentioned 5 tips ago that what goes on behind you is as important as what’s in front? Almost everyone knows the posture zip trick for the front, but do you finish that zzzzzzip by going down the back? Once again, you’re in luck, as we wrote a post (with video !!!) about the zip trick as part of our posture series.
Time to zip up this post. We hope you feel giddy about your gait as you trot around the block on Turkey Day.

hawk at Rancho la Puerta

Also remember to look up

If you want your very own professional gait assessment, contact us at info@funandfit.org. For $59 U.S. we’ll give you a complete, detailed assessment based on a video you’ll send us. And for free we’ll tell you that good posture makes you look 5 pounds slimmer, more confident, and sexier.

5

It’s National Family Caregivers Month. Are You a Caregiver?

Alexandra Williams, MA

Prepare to Care for caregivers bookletIt’s National Family Caregivers Month. As I’m a caregiver, I jumped at the chance to partner with Midlife Boulevard to bring you this important public service information about it (say that to yourself in a Walter Cronkite voice).

 

If you’re like most people, your mental image of a caregiver is of middle-aged women taking care of elderly parents. For me, only half of that is true. I’m middle-aged (or early Renaissance; medieval if you’re one of my boys). But I’m not caring for my parents; I’m now caring for someone who is only 57 and had a stroke in late September.

Without going into a pity party about what that means, especially when it’s completely unexpected, and therefore not planned for, I’ll just say that dealing with it has been made easier because I’ve accepted help.

It’s against my nature to ask for help. I’ve spent over 30 years in the health and fitness industry, helping others. I got an advanced degree in systemic counseling so I could help others. It’s more comfortable for me to give help than to receive it. Which probably makes me just like everybody else. Yet don’t we all immediately rush to help whenever someone we care about needs it? Heck, most of us rush to help complete strangers, and we don’t care about them. Until we do. Because we share the human trait of compassion.

According to AARP, more than 42 million U.S. caregivers provide an estimated $450 billion worth of unpaid care to relatives and friends. That’s a lot of compassion. Speaking from experience, I know this can be highly stressful. AARP reports that caregivers are also at higher risk for immunosuppression, cardiovascular disease, premature aging, and to top it off, financial problems. I know that after the initial stress and chaos of the stroke, I ended up with bronchitis. The financial problems are real too, even with supplemental disability insurance and full medical coverage.

But knowledge is power, and feeling more powerful and in control helps decrease stress (at least for me). And the extra support AARP offers through its community of experts and other caregivers at aarp.org/caregiving makes some of the chores easier. The detective work involved in figuring everything out was a depressing surprise, and I know that my sister will soon have this same issue with our mom. Trying to sort out paperwork when the only person who has the answers isn’t in a state to do so is crazy-making. Spending hours and hours on the phone and buried in paperwork, knowing that there should have been an easier way is exhausting.

AARP - Juggling Work and Caregiving booklet

That’s why I’m fully on board about the public service ads (PSAs) that AARP and the Ad Council have just launched that illustrate how the changing roles of parents and children can impact your life. I’m not caring for a parent, yet I have found these resources to be helpful, and recommend them to you:

Prepare to Care (Caregiving Planning Guide for Families)
12 Resources Every Caregiver Should Know About
Free eBook: Juggling Work and Caregiving
10 Tips for Caregivers During the Holidays

As November is National Family Caregivers Month, why not help celebrate the more than 42 million people who are providing care? By “celebrate” I mean offer rides, provide respite care, bring a meal, do household chores, ask after both the person being cared for AND the caregiver, and understand when the caregiver is a bit grumpy or distracted or doesn’t send a quick thank-you note. And take advantage of these resources, because with demographics being what they are, you’ll probably be a caregiver one day too.

Special PSA from us: Walk. Move. Dance. Strength Train, Golf. Garden. Bicycle. Swim. Exercise keeps both your body and brain sharp and strong. If you don’t want someone else to have to care for you, then take care of yourself.

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