By now you know that exercise is good for a lot more than weight maintenance. It acts as inexpensive medicine, positively affects the aging process, and makes us better people all around. Every year new studies reveal more ways movement increases happiness, healthiness, and longevity. We baby boomers continue to redefine aging as we take advantage of increased awareness of the benefits of activity.
Let’s skim through a few fun fitness facts culled from recent research to get our motivation and life quality up, up, up! Nothing like some quick, practical hits to renew our “commit to be fit!”
I don’t know about you, but I love Fun Fit Facts and Stats. You are seeing here just a few of the many I collect. What do you think? Do fitness facts, stats, and quotes motivate you as well?
If so, layer some Motivational Quotes with your Fun Fit Facts to keep yourself active and on track. Get more quick hits in our posts, Motivational Quotes to Move You and Motivation, Fun Fit Facts, and Pretty Pictures for Boomers.
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By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
For the past 30+ years, our fitness students have asked us to advise them what to eat before and after their workouts. Our answer is very simple, which makes it easy to remember and
obey follow –the closer to the ground, the better. In other words, if you can get it from a veggie garden, fruit orchard, or even a chicken coop you’re probably making a better choice than if you got it from a box at the store that lists 43 ingredients, of which you can only pronounce 15.
Of course, the full answer is more nuanced, and can get as complex as a physics word problem (guess what topic I avoided in high school). But make “carbohydrates and protein” your mantra. Yes, we mean it — carbs are an important and necessary fuel. For some reason, protein has gotten all the good press, yet it’s really a secondary player.
For those interested in complex answers (and complex carbohydrates), let’s chat about slow and fast release carbs. Fast release carbohydrates are foods that are quickly broken down into sugars. Slow release carbs are foods that are slowly broken down into sugars.
Maybe you’re curious about the glycemic response, which refers to the body’s increase in blood glucose (a simple form of sugar. If you see the word “monosaccharide,” that is the type of sugar that is glucose) and insulin after you eat. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a standardized list of food categories. Using white bread as the reference food (GI of 100), foods that have a GI >85 are considered high, foods that are 60-85 are moderate, and foods that are <60 are low. Low Glycemic Index foods are slow release carbs.
Some foods listed as low (<60) on the GI:
hummus peaches apples
grapefruit peanuts pears
beans oat bran bread milk (whole or nonfat or soy)
yogurt dried peas egg fettuccini
apricots bananas wheat kernels
cherries plums tomato soup
rice bran barley
For a truly complete list of over 1,300 food listed on the Glycemic Index, you can click to the International Table of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2002 published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In case you don’t want to memorize the Glycemic Index list, I’ll give you a super simplified way to choose – if it’s white, you probably don’t want it (except milk). If it’s colorful, you probably do. Brightly colored children’s cereals do NOT qualify. One more way to quickly gauge – starchy = fast release; non-starchy – slow release. But I find the white/ colorful easier.What is the BEST thing to eat pre- and post-workout? Click To Tweet
These sample pre-workout choices give you a good idea when you’re trying to decide:
orange and cottage cheese
whole-grain toast and peanut butter
nuts and apple
yogurt and granola
hard-boiled egg and wheat bagel
string cheese and pretzels
chicken breast (not a nugget) and rice
Notice how these foods are much closer to the ground than fruit-flavored or infused foods, and that the ingredients ARE the food, rather than a long list of mystery chemicals and additives. In a “silver lining” story, when my 19-year-old was diagnosed as a baby with a lot of food allergies, I had to learn to read labels and cook from scratch. In order to protect his health I ended up protecting the health of my entire family. We started eating organic, non-GMO food, and learned over time which brands we trusted to keep him safe. We were also lucky enough to have space to grow our own vegetables and fruits, plus we had access to farmers’ markets.
You want to eat the right food before and after exercise, right? And I imagine you want to eat the right food the rest of the day too, yes? Use the info and resources in this post to help you choose your meal or snack. As to when to eat pre- and post-workout, it boils down (that’s an egg joke right there) to this: consume a balanced snack 2–3 hours prior to exercise and consume a carbohydrate- and protein-containing snack or meal following the session to help get the most out of your workout, enhance your glycogen stores and recover successfully from that workout (pant, pant, sweat, glisten). And if you live in the real world, and need to eat five minutes before your workout, that’s still a better plan that skipping a meal or eating C.R.A.P. (Color-enhanced, un-Recognizable, un-Appetizing, Packaged). Feel free to come up with a better acronym.
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Alexandra Williams, MA
As I just had my article, “10 Nutrition Trends to Watch” published in IDEA Fitness Journal – the magazine for fitness professionals (you can call 800 999-IDEA to order a copy if you aren’t a member) – I thought I’d share five of those trends with you and a few excerpts from the feature.
Foods for Healthy Aging and Brain Power
Confirmed links between food, aging and brain health have exploded over the past few years. In 2012, Americans spent about $30 billion on health supplements, so it’s obvious we want to improve (Lara 2014). Boomers are hitting retirement age and wanting to stay active, engaged and youthful, so it makes sense that this demographic superforce would look to food for help with that.
Local, Sustainable Foods
For many years, our access to food has been based on a global model in which food would travel long distances to arrive on our tables. Interestingly, as the world has become even more global thanks to the Internet, consumers have pushed for a system that returns to agrarian times—eating food that is grown and produced locally.
Weight-conscious consumers have shunned whole milk since the 1980s, so it may surprise some to learn that it’s making a comeback (Shanker 2015). Higher consumption of butter, cream and high-fat milk correlates to lower levels of central obesity (waist-to-hip ratio ?) (Kratz, Baars & Guyenet 2013). The resurgent interest in whole-milk products includes some staples and also some newcomers, such as creamy yogurt, savory yogurt (aka labneh), cheese, whey protein, quark and farmer’s cheese.
Rise of Online Healthy Food Boutique Memberships
From ready-made meals to single packages of paleo jerky treats, healthy foods are reaching consumers quickly from both national and local companies.
Thrive Market is a fairly new online marketplace that recruited more than 2 million registered users in 2015. It’s the fastest-?growing e-commerce company in the history of Los Angeles, and I myself shop at it. They give one free membership to a family in need for every paid membership, and I have a link for you in case you wish to join – you get 30 days for free.
According to a recent survey, Americans are getting about one-quarter of their daily calories from snacks, and consumers are paying attention to the items they choose (USDA 2014). Not only are people more particular about their snacks; they’re also willing to try new things, including bottled, potable soups; meat snacks, especially if they bear the “grass-fed, hormone-free” label; and whole and sprouted grains in items ranging from hot cereals to raw protein bars. Cakes, candies, chips and cookies are still quite popular, yet a long-term shift toward healthier snacks has occurred (Conick 2015).
Stay tuned for a future post, when I’ll share the other five trends from the article. Till then, grab your turmeric and kale chips and go for a walk. Me, I’m off to make some popcorn with red palm oil, coconut oil, hemp seeds and salt. It’s really quite delicious.
Alexandra Williams, MA
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2. Eat your usual breakfast and lunch. Don’t skip a meal thinking you will then be free to make up for lost calories when dinner is served. By the time that occurs, you’re likely to be so hungry that you’ll overeat or choose whatever is closest.
3. Sort foods into 3 categories:
Planning and paying attention have a definite effect on how much you pile on your plate.
4. Use a salad plate instead of dinner plate. You’ll be inclined to eat less. Most of us are visually triggered, so we stop adding food once our plate looks full, regardless of plate size.
5. Get up from the table when done. Do not sit with food in front of you once you’re done. Also, put food away right after you’ve finished dinner or you could end up eating an entire meal’s worth just from picking at the stuff that’s in front of you. If you feel you’re being impolite, just say, “I’m putting stuff in the fridge now so I don’t feel tempted to overeat. Anyone who’s still hungry is more than welcome to help themselves.” Not only are you letting people know why you’re putting food away quickly, you’re also making yourself accountable by stating your goal to not overeat.
6. Use your mind to decide what matters. When loading your plate, ask yourself this question: “Am I choosing this because I’m hungry or because it tastes good?” No right or wrong answer exists; it’s simply that the awareness of your choices will help you make a considered decision as you realize that you are in control, not the food.
7. Go for a walk. What better way to spend quality time with your family or friends than by putting on a jacket and getting outside?
8. Invite guests to your meal whom you admire and respect. Or who wouldn’t otherwise have a friendly place to go celebrate. When the focus is on the guests rather than the food, we tend to eat less. If you have no-one outside of your usual circle to invite over, cook all your food, then take half of it to your local homeless shelter (if they accept outside meals).
9. Put reminders in places where you’ll actually see them – on the stove, in the fridge, on the storage containers, on your placemat. These reminders need to be positive in nature, not negative or they will only make you feel bad. For example, “You can do this” and “Remember your long term goals” are positive reminders. “Don’t even think about eating this” and “oink oink” are definitely negative. I don’t know anyone who responds well to negativity, do you?
10. Be kind to yourself. Maybe eating a few huge meals is what you want to do, and is no reflection on your usual habits. Maybe you are fine with doing extra cardio and weights as a balance. And maybe, just maybe, you are healthy and your weight is irrelevant. If you start feeling guilty, ask yourself if it’s for your own sake or because you feel you’ll be judged. At the end of the day (and the season), it’s your normal patterns and habits that matter, not a few meals. So be kind.
What tips would you add to this list?
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Some super creative recipes are coming out of the nation’s most popular restaurants – from Gitane’s stuffed dried plums with goat cheese and prosciutto with a citrus gastrique to Russian restaurant Mari Vanna’s beet salad with walnuts and dried plums, and back west to San Francisco’s Q in San Francisco, where they take dried plums with red verjus and purée them with red wine vinegar, salt and Dijon mustard in its crudité appetizer.
My all time favorite dried plum treat is prune hamentaschen (yup, I’m old enough to go by the original name), but as Thanksgiving is coming, I decided to share this recipe for plumkins from the California Dried Plums Culinary site. It only takes 20 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook, so you can bet I’ll be bringing these to our holiday dinner.
California Dried Plum purée:
1 1/3 cups (about 8 ounces) pitted dried plums 6 tablespoons hot water. In food processor, process dried plums and water until puréed.
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
2/3 cup California Dried Plum purée
¾ cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange zest
3 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
½ cup California Dried Plums, chopped
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cloves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together pumpkin purée, dried plum purée, sugar, oil, vanilla, orange zest and eggs in a large bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Place paper muffin cups muffin tins. Fill 2/3 of the way with batter. Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Recipe created by Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN for the California Dried Plum Board.
Calories 35Total Fat 1.1gCarbohydrate 5.6gProtein 0.5gFiber 0.7g
As I’m particular about what goes in my body (it’s the only one I’ve got, and it has to last), I also care about the benefits. Eat my way to health?! Well, sure, something like that.
Research suggests that eating two servings, (about 100grams or 10 to 12 dried plums), may improve bone mineral density (BMD) and slow the rate of bone turnover in post-menopausal women. As a Boomer, that is definitely important to me.
Vitamin K helps improve calcium balance and promotes bone mineralization. A 40gram serving of dried plums (4-5 prunes; about 100 calories) is considered an excellent source of Vitamin K, which provides 30% of the 80mcg Daily Value.Vitamin K helps calcium balance & bone mineralization. Dried plums are an excellent source… Click To Tweet Dried plums may help manage weight through improved satiety, perhaps by producing lower glucose and/or appetite-regulating hormone concentrations.
Naturally cholesterol free (maybe that’s news to you), they also promote digestive health (which isn’t news to us Boomers, I imagine).
Emerging research suggests that dried plums support healthy bones, and may support heart health, digestive health, immunity and healthy aging. So don’t eat them if you want unhealthy aging. Exactly. Who would sign up for unhealthy aging?
Long a part of California’s agricultural history, dried plums are getting lots of great press lately because of the combination of taste and health benefits. You can learn even more (and get some sweet and savory recipes) by heading to the California Dried Plums site.
I shall now go try my new phrase on my son – “Don’t be a bumpkin. Bring me a plumkin.”
Yes, this is a sponsored post. Yes, I love dried plums. Yes, I jumped at the chance to partner with Vibrant Nation in this campaign for California Dried Plums. I did, however, receive a few bags of dried plums in the mail. No, I’m not sharing. I’m using them for my plumkins. Can you tell I like to say “plumkins?”
Now go over there ———————–> and subscribe to our twice-weekly posts. All great stuff for actively aging Boom-Chicka-Boomers.
Alexandra Williams, MA
“I am participating in a VIN campaign for California Dried Plums. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with California Dried Plums and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.”
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.
Entrance 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.”
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.
Besides 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.
Fitness Fanatics Day
You 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.
If 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
Do you ever have people coming over for breakfast, have no idea what you want to bake, then just stare into the fridge for a while until an idea comes to mind?
That happened to me this morning. I knew I wanted to use the Almondmilk Hint of Honey Vanilla that Almond Breeze had sent me, but that was as far as I’d gotten. So I stared into the fridge. I did some expert rummaging about. Opened the cheese drawer, then the produce drawers. Moved stuff around a bit on the shelves in case … what … a fully cooked recipe jumped out? In any case, I finally noticed that I had a bag of apples in the crisper, so my brain went, “apples and almondmilk. Gotta be a breakfast recipe in there somewhere.”
And my brain was right. I ended up baking a super delicious apple cinnamon crumble. My brain even figured out a way to call it health food, as it also had oats. My brain is quite flexible in its decisions prior to breakfast. Or any meal.
What do you think of my twist on the basic crumble?
6-8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup Almond Breeze Almondmilk Hint of Honey Vanilla
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup rolled oats
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
7 Tbls softened butter
Put the peeled, cored and sliced apples into a shallow pan or dish and spread them out. Pour the almondmilk over the apples, and let them soak in it for about 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 375?
Blend the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender (or rub in with your fingers), add in the butter until your mixture is crumbly.
Pour out any remaining liquid from the soaking apples, then spread them evenly into a lightly buttered 8 X 13-inch baking dish.
Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the apples, and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Don’t forget to put apples on the shopping list in case you just used up the whole bag (as I did).
by Alexandra Williams, MA
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.
Alexandra Williams, MA
These rolls are a great place to start if you’re new to using yeast. Or scissors!
I adapted a recipe found in “New Complete Book of Breads.”
1 egg, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
½ cup mashed potato or reconstituted potato flour
¾ cup milk, room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ oz (1 pkg) yeast
1 can Blue Diamond Honey Cinnamon Almonds
3 Tbs melted butter
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top
In a mixer, blend the egg and sugar. Add the potato, milk, softened butter, and salt. Mix together. Add 2 cups of the flour and the yeast, and mix for one minute. Gradually add the rest of the flour, using the dough hook (if you have one; otherwise by hand).
When the dough comes clean off the sides of the bowl (add flour if necessary) and forms a ball around the dough hook (about 5 minutes), cover the bowl and put in a warm place to rise until it’s doubled in size (45-90 minutes).
Once the dough has doubled, cut it in half and form into two 12-inch logs. Cut each log into 12 pieces, rolling each piece into an oval. Using kitchen shears, cut two ears into each roll. As you probably don’t want your bunnies to look like goblins, I recommend you blunt the pointy tips of the ears. Brush the rolls with the melted butter, cover with wax paper and leave them for a second rising until they’ve doubled (about 30 minutes).
While they’re rising, preheat the oven to 400º, then turn it down to 350º after you put the rolls in. Just before you put them into the oven, stick one almond into each bunny as a tail, then sprinkle the rolls with cinnamon sugar. Stick the almond tails in deep enough that they don’t come out during baking. A few of mine kind of squeezed partway out, which caused my boys to make quite a few NSFW jokes about the bunny butts. Bake 10-12 minutes. Makes 24 rolls.
This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds, which is a partnership I’m proud of.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Pssst – if you don’t live in California, read this anyway, as you can probably buy one of the 1.5 millions cases of Sustainability in Practice (SIP) wines near you, which might cheer you up about missing the event.
What is SIP?
When a winery achieves this certification, it means they are committed to practices that support workers and the environment, as well as contributing to cleaner processes. As we’re in a major drought in California, these vintners, ranchers and farmers are leading the way in trying to work with, not against, the land and weather, as no crops will be sustainable if we don’t do something now.
Every time you buy a SIP-certified bottle of wine, you are putting your money toward growers who share your (and my) preferences for sustainable practices. You are casting a vote to keep these vintners in business. By drinking wine! Can you say “win win?” If you’re into social media, you can even use the hashtag #ispySIP. And if you have no idea what a hashtag is, and wonder why I’m co-opting the pound sign, no worries – just ask your local shop if they carry SIP certified wines.
Besides me, who now wants to say, “I spy with my little eye…. wine?”
Earth Day Food & Wine Weekend
Let’s say you are somewhat close to Paso Robles in Central California and want to come to the event April 18th. Held at Castoro Cellars, it’s a food and wine experience that’s high class and low key. Heck, you can wear your flip flops and “I Love California” t-shirt while dancing to the Cali Funk tunes of Proxima Parada if you want. Guess where much of your admission money goes? To educational scholarships for relatives of farmworkers and Spanish education programs. Drink Well and Do Good should be their motto. But it’s not, because I just made it up.
For the record, this is not a sponsored post. They are giving me free admission, but I’m writing about this because one of the organizers is my friend and I know what a fun event it will be. For example, on their Facebook page, I just saw reference to locally grown onion, Gruyere, bacon quiches that will be at the event. Besides, they know the difference between “borne” and “born.” The editor in me is savoring this grammatical knowledge. You know, like a good glass of wine.
Photo credits: Earth Day Food and Wine
Alexandra Williams, MA
So when Almond Breeze Almondmilk contacted me about creating a recipe, the only question I had in my mind was “how will I ever whittle it down to just one recipe?” But I persevered and somehow managed (first world problem, eh).
I’m a vegetarian with a friendly attitude toward vegan ingredients, so this recipe is appropriate for almost anyone. Well, except my younger son, who has luckily outgrown his allergy to soy, yet still hates tofu. But it’s the rare teen who likes tofu anyway, I think. Try it and see if you enjoy this smoothie as much as I do. I usually drink my smoothie while driving, with a piece of multi-grain toast balanced precariously on top of my glass. My older son makes fun of me for this “mom habit.”
1 handful of ice cubes
4 ounces silken tofu
2 teaspoons agave syrup
2 tablespoons flax meal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ounces Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk
Makes 2 shakes, though I tend to just drink some of it, then refill my glass before getting in the car to drive to work. That’s my polite way of saying I rarely share.
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk, which is a perfect match to my mind.