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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.

15

Are These Boomer-Friendly Fitness Trends in Your Future?

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

IHRSA TRX booth

Hanging out at IHRSA 2015

Wonder which fitness products, trends, and exercises lie in your future active life? Then shoulder-shove your way down trade show aisles with us to catch highlights from the recent 2015 IHRSA Convention and Trade show (association for fitness club owners/ managers). Our mission? To ferret out and focus on the equipment and workouts suited for Boomers (or anyone who wants to age actively, yet has joint aches and pains and limitations, oh my). Yup, we’re both fitness trendsetters and trendspotters.

Alexandra: But first, a shout-out to ourselves, as it turns out we were both in the Top Ten for most socially engaged people at the convention.

We were beat out by keynote speaker Arianna Huffington, a popular conference speaker, and Dai Manuel (a fellow FitFluential ambassador). Maybe it’s time to raise our rates. Hmmmm.

20150311_175131

I’m sitting in the 4th Row Center where Arianna could see me and be inspired

Kymberly: Arianna can take first place as most influential online IHRSA “attendee” with no envy from me as she was so clever in her keynote. I almost thought Alexandra wrote her material, that’s how funny Mz Huff was. Please note that a certain Me was ranked higher than a certain Not Me twinster. Score!

Wearable Technology is IT (Get it?)

As for a key trend coming your way bigger than our hair and shoulder pads in the 80s — wearable technology is IT! Bands, apps, bracelets, watches, cords, equipment screens, club check-in software, online community connections, and more are infiltrating, permeating, hyperventilating our fitness future. Proof is coming in that tracking and measuring devices actually work! People who use technology are moving more.

Kila wearing the Skulpt AIm

No

Skulpt Aim measuring Kymberly's quad

Yes

We saw all kinds of amazing gadgets that gather your workout data, health profile, preferences, fat levels–you name it– in order to help you succeed with your health and fitness goals. Need accountability? Motivation? Feedback? Workout buddies? An exercise program to go? if you can conceive of it, you will find it at the IHRSA trade show which was loaded with ingenuity and visionary high techy thingies. Hey, I am currently testing out a handheld device that measures my body fat and muscle quality, courtesy of Skulpt Aim. I simply hold up to certain muscles the Skulpt Aim, which looks like a smart phone and voila — personalized data that I wish would lie to me. But it doesn’t.

You probably are contributing to the health and fitness tech trend right now. Have you ever used a pedometer? (Read our post on assessing pedometers) Slapped on a heart rate monitor? Synced a workout tracking device to your phone? Input info into a cardio machine that goes to a personal profile? Plead guilty to being a trend driver.

So you’re all fitted up with monitoring devices, but which workouts offer options for midlifers who may suffer from joint issues?

 

TRX Training for Midlifers
Alexandra: We have taken a few of the TRX suspension training classes before, but we wanted to know if they had a workout that would be suited for those of us with bad knees (Kymberly’s recent surgery), bad wrists (Alexandra’s recent fall), or other issues that make it necessary to modify so many other workout regimens.

pic of TRX training at IHRSA

Getting great instruction at the TRX booth

So many of our students have asked our opinion about suspension training, worried they might fall or embarrass themselves if they tried it, so we went straight to the top to find answers. By “top” we mean we had our very own personalized workout with Dan Mcdonogh, the TRX Training and Development Manager and 2012 IDEA (our professional association) Fitness Instructor of the Year.

With a focus on good form (we loved him for that), Dan took us through a myriad of options for some of the main moves: squats, lunges, planks, rows, push-ups. Every time we said, “that would be an issue for someone with knee problems,” or “how can I do this move if I’m worried about balance,” Dan had a solution. (Keep an eye out for our video of this workout coming soonish to our website. See Dan survive standing between us as we crack jokes and compliment his red hair).

End Result: We totally loved this workout, as it helped increase our strength, balance, core and flexibility, all of which are important for Boomers (well, anyone really). I will just mention that I was amazing. Kymberly might have been too, but I kept poking her in the surgery leg.

TRX with Dan O'Donough and Fraser Quelch

Two of the world’s top TRX trainers – Dan Mcdonogh and Fraser Quelch. We are Superstahhhs.

Kymberly: Poke, poke, no joke. I really kneed to find exercise options that offer intensity with minimal joint impact. After doing a pain free happy dance for TRX, I found my cardio nirvana on the Total Wave Fitness.

More than two months of no cardio (aside from mosey level dog walks) has left me desperate to get my sweat on. Where, oh where is a high intensity, low impact exercise mode right for knees in rehab? That is fun? With variety? And smooth comfort like a Tom Jones song? Oh my gosh, but gliding on the Wave machine is perfect for anyone who wants an aerobic heart rate with no bone pounding. If you want to go for a ride and slide from side to side, talk your club into getting one of these. Sore feet? Wonky knees? Try the Total Wave. No excuses or downtime for joint pain sufferers. Santa Barbara Spectrum are you listening? Buy this for me — and the other members too, of course.

This crazy looking contraption could be the answer to those of you for whom aches and pains keep you from taking cardio classes or getting on cardio equipment. If you send me one, I WILL find room for it in my house.

Here’s to finding ways to work out as we age.
Readers: How has an injury or chronic condition kept you from exercising? What solution(s) did you find? And … is your klout score higher than ours? Comment below. And subscribe if you have not already.

 

1

Solving Knee Pain: What Is and Isn’t Working

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

What You do vs WHo You AreI knew I was facing at least two knee surgeries. What I wasn’t sure of was when. My plan was to stave off the knife and downtime for sometime in the next decade. (Read part one of my knee saga via this link). Turns out my right knee– the formerly “good” one– and two orthopedists have a different, sooner, hustle up, and “get the surgery over with” plan.

All the knee rehab in Santa Barbara is not going to repair two torn menisci. (I tore them teaching my Forever Fit Cardio class. I think the left knee got fed up pulling the load for the right, arthritic one and fired itself from overachiever duty mid-mambo).

Bad Timing of Rest vs Action

However the knee rehab and other protocols I have been trying ARE helping address the osteoarthritis. I am learning more every day about what a lifetime of being active, teaching fitness, and having a high pain threshold can do to knee joints. That last aspect — having a high pain threshold — does not pair well with thinking I can tough out any pain or solve swelling with ice and movement then ice and movement then ice and movement. Did you see the word “rest” anywhere in there? I kinda skipped that phase. Yeah, that lying around, not doing cardio and not teaching exercise part is hard for me. I fear that rest will lead to lethargy and the start of the end. And I don’t want freedom of movement to end. Anyway, ……

If you are also suffering from knee pain or wanting to avoid having knee issues, then limp along with me through some 7 discoveries.

  1. Straighten KneesSimple habits may be making your knees worse. For example, when sitting, do you tuck your legs under your chair? Oops. According to Rick Kaselj’s Fix My Knee Pain program (which I am following and encourage you to buy and try as well), those of us with knee problems are better served to extend our legs when sitting. So simple, but I had not known that!
  2. Physical therapy really does help … if you actually do the exercises! When I am at the physical therapist’s I overhear other patients through the non-soundproof curtains. Almost everyone in the areas next to me confesses to not keeping up with their rehab homework. I have been super faithful about doing my PT every day. While PT cannot heal the menisci tears, it does help with all the surrounding structures. For sure it is helping both with the current symptoms AND the causes. Knowing the causes of my knee issues is critical as I don’t want to go through surgery to repeat bad patterns.
  3. The chondroitin powder I am taking does not seem to be doing much. Everyone else I talk to swears by some sort of glucosamine or chondroitin. I will give this approach another month, then reasses.
  4. Indoor cycling as a substitute for step class is hit and miss. Sometimes I can ride and ride with no downside. Other times, my knee starts to hurt in minutes and swells up. Yes, I keep the tension low both times. Staying motivated to cycle on my own is hard for me as I prefer to work out with people, cues, and group energy.
  5. 20140829_115158Pool activities are Sah-weeet! When Alexandra and I were presenting wellness sessions at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite last weekend, I put myself through my own aerobic workouts in their pool. I got to go for it without aggravating my joints. So happy! Note to world – aqua aerobics is not a little old lady workout! It’s a way to add intensity without impact. And thanks to a nice neighbor who has a pool and generous heart, I am going to implement more water works … once her pool is a leeetle warmer.
  6. Water is your joints’ friend. Drink lots.

Sitting By Choice or By Necessity

My hope is to get this arthroscopic procedure scheduled asap, so I can get back at it asap! (Do you hear me, insurance people. Get those approvals rolling, please!). When the doctor told me I could stand for only 10 minutes per hour, I had to rethink my whole mindset. As a fitness professional, I know our nation sits too much and moves too little. But we all tend to be around those who are like us – similar values, habits, activities. (Hot tip — if you want to be more active, hang around active people). So I don’t interact with too many sedentary people. I have to admit, these two weeks of limited, painful movement is not making me more compassionate. It’s making me more uncomprehending of those who can move but choose not to.

Oh, and tip 7strengthen both your core and your glutes if you want to help your knees. Thinking that quad strength alone will protect those needy knees is too limited.

ABC: Abs, Butt, Core

flyer of K and A's ABC class in Santa BarbaraWhich is such a good way to segue into an invitation to those of you who will be in Santa Barbara this weekend, Jan 31, 2015. Alexandra and I are leading a free ABC: Abs, Butt, Core workout 10:00am at the Paseo Nuevo mall, sponsored by Lorna Jane activewear. Not only will you get to do a fun, effective, knee happy workout with us, but also you get a discount on LJ wear, and healthy snacks. And someone is going home with a prize!

37

Knee Pain? Just Say No … Didn’t Work

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Knee Surgeries? Duck, Duck, Goose

inflamed footAccording to two doctors, I need three separate joint surgeries in 2015. My plan is to have zero. And there you have one of my primary New Year’s goals: to try all non-invasive options to rehab both knees and my foot. (Yes, for those of you who have been reading our blog for awhile, that identical twis sis of mine had left toe surgery for the same issue I now have on the right).

Over the next few months look for occasional posts that chronicle my efforts to reduce knee pain and get my active life back. My hope is that my successes, methods, and discoveries help those of you with similar pain.

Any other baby boomers out there with knee, toe, or other joint-related issues? Is osteoarthritis interfering with your life plan for active aging? This was not supposed to happen to me!! I want my life to expand with age, time, income, and experience, not contract.  After depositing in the exercise bank for more than 35 years, I was looking forward to withdrawing more movement, action, and adventure!

Poolside press up

No knees holding me back here..

Lakeside press up

Nor here

Kymberly presses up in CO

Nope, not here either.

After a physically challenging year with chronic pain and the ability to move less and less, it’s time to face reality: ignoring my knee and foot problems and powering through painful workouts just isn’t working any more. Maybe it never was, but I did keep teaching group exercise classes and walking my dog every day! Until a few weeks ago when I tore two menisci in my right knee — the “good” knee. The one that did not have two replacement surgeries already.

Do You Kneed This? I Do, Dang It!

Sooo, I am now starting several new approaches to get my athletic, energetic, comfortable giddy up gait back. These programs and methods include:

  • Starting Physical Therapy – traditional, medical model, science-based, personalized. Started two days ago and already feel optimistic. For one, my left knee is again smaller than my head. So long super sized swelling!
  • Following the Knee Injury Solution developed and offered via videos and written instruction by specialist Rick Kaselj – known and trusted fitness pro, colleague in the fitness industry, inexpensive program, easy to do at home. If you are interested to try his knee rehab program yourself, click the link. Low price, good value!
  • Performing stretches and movement tasks from Move Your DNA, a book by Katy Bowman, MS that looks at the subtle, yet important ways we need to rethink “exercise” and focus on “movement.”
  • Eating fewer foods that incite inflammation – waah haa as this will be the tough area for me.
  • Eating more foods that reduce inflammation – can and will do! For one, the Skinnylicious book Alexandra and I discovered will help with this as will the Knee Injury Solution program. Check out the cookbook by clicking the Skinnylicious link or by reading our post, Fitness, Weight Loss, and Nutrition in 2015.
  • Using glucosamine powder and homeopathic gel suggested by my chiropractor.
  • Getting on my husband’s spinning cycle daily to replace the other cardio activities I have had to cut back on. Low impact, medium intensity.

Doctor, Doctor, I Declare

Kymberly's foot points to a tiget track

Do Your Knees Track? (Do you see the tiger track my foot points to? Do you like my word play?) Oh Meow!

Whew! That’s a lot to take on. But I am determined and frankly, scared enough to try whatever it takes to get my walking and exercising juju back. My doctors have been great about listening to me and working with me to develop protocols to push off surgeries. Yet, my goal is to do MORE once I can walk again pain- and swelling-free. They keep trying to talk me into doing LESS, both now and post any surgery.

Other methods I have tried over the last two years have helped to a degree. I think those efforts gained me extra workouts and managed the pain. But not enough to prevent the recent downturns and tears. Read what I already implemented as you might want in on some o’ dat! Pain Free Movement in 2013

So strap in if you are interested to find out what works and what does not in my 2015 knee and foot joint reclamation project.

Affiliate disclosure: If you buy the Skinnylicious recipe book or Knee Rehab program through our links, we earn a few dollars at no added cost to you. Of course our main motive is to find, test, and curate the products and services best for active women over 50. 

10

Fitness, Weight Loss, and Nutrition in 2015: Get More Sizzle, Less Fizzle

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

picture of one-legged plank

Plank it Real Good!

How is your new year starting out? More to the point, how do you want your year to progress? More sizzle, less fizzle? One way to maintain an upwards trajectory is to stay up with the latest and greatest (“Latest” is Alexandra’s nickname; “Greatest” is Kymberly’s. Already cracking ourselves up here).

The new year is starting out well at the Boom Chicka Boomer ranch, homestead, cottage, boom shack-a lacka. We have 2.0.1.5. exciting exercises, retreats, ebooks, advice, research, food, and all-around goodness to share with you so that you can be up to date. Let’s get rolling, shall we?

1. Top Ten Fitness Trends for 2015
Wonder what the top 10 fitness trends for 2015 are projected to be? Then click the link to see the list compiled by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM),

2. Four Key Trends That Affect You
For YOU, we highlight 4 of those fitness trends relevant to active women who want to be comfortably awesome.

  • Body Weight Training, which includes push-ups, lunges , squats and planks. Ka-Boom. Check out the short videos we made for all these, so you can get a head (and chest, abs, legs and arms) start.
  • Experienced and Educated Fitness Professionals. This refers to those of us accredited by the NCAA (a 3rd-party accrediting organization). In other words, here we are, just us with our credentials and 60+ combined years of exercise experience.
  • Exercise and Weight Loss. Look to us to provide MORE tools for you in 2015 to meet your workout, movement, weight, and wellness goals!
  • And one of our favorites? Fitness Programs for Older Adults. ‘Nuff said in that department.

3. Buy This Cookbook (Subtle, eh?)
Skinnylicious cookingEating will continue to be popular in 2015. Shocker, eh? What if we told you about a great recipe book <<<<<——- (click that link) that will have you eating more while losing weight, AND you can keep eating bacon? We are now affiliates for the ——->>>> (or click here) Skinnylicious Cooking downloadable recipe book.  This book aligns with our preference for grass-fed meat, healthy ingredients, real food vs. food-like substances, easy, time-saving, delicious, affordable, and metabolism-boosting recipes. In other words, the recipes are designed to work WITH, not AGAINST your body. No dieting involved. You probably already know our low opinion of diets. But we have a high opinion of Skinnylicious and think you will too.  But you need to click to find out. And you have to actually get the book and USE it to gain all its benefits. Action time.

It looks like 2015 might finally be the year when the food industry recognizes how important it is to increase plant intake and decrease animal intake, both for health and the environment.  Even more reason to eat – gasp – more veggies and fruits.

4. Trust Those of Us in the Trenches
Teaching group fitness classes every week is not enough to qualify us to advise you about active aging. We also present and lead sessions around and about. Keeps us on our toes.Session leaders for BAM conference

Join us in person or vicariously online as we hoof it to: Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite, then to the Lorna Jane store at the Paseo Nuevo Mall in Santa Barbara, then out of state to the first Bloggers at Midlife (BAM) conference in Nashville. Yes, you can work out in cowperson boots! The ultimate booty class!

Spa and Wellness Retreat at Tenaya

5.Tenaya Lodge Wellness Spa Retreat Weekend
If you want to jumpstart your wellness plans, but without any jumping involved, join us at the Tenaya Lodge Wellness Retreat.  Taste wine, go on a nature hike, get a mass-aaaahhhh-ge, work out with us, learn how to pair tea with dinner. If your budget allows, and you enjoy learning and doing healthy activities in a luxury environment, meet us there! Coming up soon: Jan 16-19

Regardless of your ability to attend, tell us in a comment below which of the planned activities would be your favorite. We are pretty keen on the Saturday, Jan 17 3:30 session! To see the schedule and sessions or to register, go to this spa weekend link.

6. ABC Workout, Free Food, Prizes, and Lorna Jane Activewear DISCOUNTS
For you locals (Santa Barbara), join us for FREE Sat Jan 31 at 10am for the world, nation, state, county famous ABC: Abs, Balance, Core workout we are teaching. Sponsored by Lorna Jane Activewear, you not only get to improve your abs and show the shoppers who rules the mall, but also snacks and juicy discounts on LJ gear. Did we mention prizes as well? Gotta play to win!

What’s your favorite abs or core move? Bet we’ll show you one you’ll like more!

Bloggers at Midlife logo7. Bloggers at Midlife Conference
Then in mid-March we fly to Tennessee to present at the inaugural BAM conference. If you are a baby boomer or midlife women who blogs on any topic, this event is for you. If you are not a blogger, thank goodness! We need you as readers! So charge up your laptop or mobile phone to read about our adventures and whether we sweat during our sessions. Look for wild photos and behind-the-scenes stories from the conference.

8. Track our Knee Adventures
Starting next week, we will be busting open the inflammatory, painful, yet ultimately upbeat story of two middle-aged women who want to age actively. When their knees try to defeat them, they fight back — with traditional and new methods. Methods that you can learn about as well. This (unfortunately) universal tale of joy, frustration, pain, and odd detours offers help to any of you also suffering from knee pain. Will Kymberly be able to continue teaching her beloved step classes in 2015? Can Alexandra postpone knee surgery past 2015? And how will their experiences help you? Track with us as we enter 2015 raring to go!

Did you think you’d have to read 2,015 bullet points from us? Nahhhh. 2 + 0 + 1 + 5 = 8, so you only get 8 points from us. Happy 2015. See you at Tenaya! While reading Skinnylicious. In a box. With a fox.

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.

6

What Can You Do When Your Joints Ache and Holler?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Age ActivelyDo your joints ache to the point that you cannot do activities you’d like? Is pain making cardio exercise a challenge? Are your knee joints so arthritic that practically every move hurts them? We hear, feel, and empathize with your pain. (Really, we do. Read our post with more suggestions about reducing chronic joint and muscle pain)

To live more comfortably in your body, what can you do (besides whine, whimper, act curmudgeonly, and grab the stairwell when going down)?

Hang onto your bandage wraps and therapeutic creams as we dispense fit pro advice about ways to exercise cardiovascularly when your joints are HOLLERING!

Rancho poolKymberly: Swim

Alexandra: Swim

Kymberly: Hey, I said it first!

Alexandra: I thought it first!

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

K: Now that you wonder whether we really do have twin telepathy, I can tell you what Alexandra was thinking. Nada. But I am thinking that getting into a pool and doing laps or taking aqua classes are the best options. The more of your body that is under water, the less stress on your joints. If pools are not a realistic option for whatever reason – no pool handy, hate to get wet, you only wear a bathing suit in the privacy of your bathtub–whatever–then we have to come up with more clever solutions.

A: Try cardio machines that take some of the load off your lower body joints, such as indoor cycling, rowing, elliptical machines (as opposed to stair steppers or treadmills). Take advantage of a group spin or row class. For one, you can have the instructor fit the equipment to you, so you are in protective alignment. You want to be sure that the seat of your cycle is set high enough for your leg length, for example. Nag, nag, nag.

K: Add in some resistance training or Pilates twice a week. Strengthen the muscles around painful joints so that the muscles bear the brunt of the load.

Kymberly after Ranch dance classPerhaps invest in a certified personal trainer or one-on-one licensed body worker (such as a Feldenkreis teacher,  CranioSacral therapist, or MELT trainer). Get your form, equipment settings, shoes, stretching plan all checked by a professional. And I don’t mean us. We’re way too busy bickering about who suggested the pool first.

A: Find a local gym with a “seniors” program (a euphemism for “anyone older than myself”) and take a group low-impact class. The variety of movement will decrease the potential for pain from repetitive stress. Unless you take my sister’s class – in which case your pain will increase tremendously.  Got the last word.

Does your event need education, motivation, and fit-elation? Call us to speak at (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Comfortably move your way to our YouTube channel for short videos that will improve your active aging adventure! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

3

Fun Fit Facts and Quotes from Fitness Leaders

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Quote board at the Ranch

If you can read this quote, your brain and eyes are already trained.

Pains, Brains, Thoughts, and Transformations with a Sprinkling of Water Thrown In

At the recent IDEA Convention for fitness professionals from around the globe, Alexandra and I had the opportunity to hear from world class presenters. They bring us — and ultimately, YOU — the best and most current information from the exercise industry.  The common thread you’ll discover is the focus on mental as it affects physical and vice versa. The Brain/ Body connection was synapsing all over the place!

Highlights from the IDEA World Fitness Convention 2014

Think of today’s post as a circuit class, where you zip from session to session, getting highlights and quick quotes from each. No one-topic marathons happening today! Ready, set, MOVE-THINK!

Let’s start with the special event co-hosted by Hay House publishers and IDEA: Transformation Day. Several Hay House authors shared their mind/body stories and strategies for a healthier, more joyful, pain-free life.

The Power of Transformation

Anita Moorjani shared her story of “dying” in the hospital from cancer, then reviving with the cancer gone and her family and doctors stunned. Her talk focused on “The Power of Transformation” and how what we tell ourselves and others makes a difference in our bodies and lives.

  • “Many of us use language to hide what we’re feeling or thinking, not to communicate.”
  • “All possibilities exist simultaneously. It just depends what we focus on.”

Anita had us focus on all the red things in the room for a minute. Then she asked us to close our eyes and recollect anything blue. I came up with two things out of dozens. Oops!  It was a quick and powerful example of seeing what we look for and not at all noticing what’s equally in front of us if we are not focused on it.

You Can Create an Exceptional Life

Best selling author, Cheryl Richardson followed up with her session “You Can Create an Exceptional Life,” also emphasizing the role our thoughts and words play in determining our human condition. Key takeaway points I gleaned from her include:

  • “Pay attention to your habitual thoughts. They are what determine your life.”
  • “Thoughts become words that can heal, hurt, help, or harm.”
  • “Use your mind in service to your soul.”
  • “What you hold in your mind manifests in your body.”

Somehow I must be holding thoughts of knee issues as those rapscallion joints sure are manifesting a party gone rogue. Time to reflect on what I am telling myself when not talking aloud. Yak yak yak leads to tap tap tap ……..

A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living

Therafits taking a break at Rancho la Puerta

Tapping my Therafit toes as I do less to achieve more. Tap tap tapping my cares away

Transformation Day also featured “The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living,” by Nick Ortner. To be frank (but not Nick), I was skeptical whether this session would offer anything practical for me, you, and the general, unsupervised baby boomer population.  By the time I followed Nick’s cues and taps, and after he worked with 3 volunteers who came onstage, I confess that tapping seemed to lessen some of my aches and pains. His key quotes and questions?:

  • “What are your limiting beliefs that you accept as truth? We are made up of our beliefs up to this point in our lives. As such, thus far, we are a product of learned behaviors.”

What I found quite interesting relative to pain management was Nick’s comment that:

  • “Anger is the most common emotion linked to pain. When we can diminish the rage or anger, we can reduce the pain.”

Oooh, this comment made me so mad. Ouch! Tap tap tap Just kidding.

MELT Away Your Pain

Historical fat melter at the ranch

Melts fat, but adds pain. Half of this statement is true.

Popular presenter, Sue Hitzmann did not know or plan it, but her beliefs and approach to pain management dovetailed with the metaphysical bent of the Transformation speakers. Her movement workshop, “The MELT Experience for Group Exercise,” looked at the need to retrain our neurons, reconnect with our connective tissue, and become aware of the subtleties of sensory experiences in order to melt pain in less than 10 minutes a day. Her insights?:

  • “Pain is in the brain and an issue in tissue. Look at connective tissue, not just the muscles and joints.”
  • “95% of the time, the place with pain is the victim, not the criminal. Therefore, it’s usually not effective to treat the area of pain. We must look elsewhere for the source.”
  • “Don’t cause pain (such as heavy pressure point bodywork) to get out of pain. Go lightly and gently.”

Sue is a well-argued, well-educated, highly articulate speaker who got me motivated to try her MELT Method. The concept that less is more is still a tough one for me to internalize, even though I cognitively accept it. Note to self — Must connect with less to gain more…….

Balancing Hormones

Holistic nutritionist, Teri Mosey, PhD brought an interesting combination of western and eastern training to her talk on “Balancing Hormones Through Nutrition.” I kind of glazed over during the biochem aspects, but did perk up when Teri stated that:

  • “We have 60-70,000 thoughts per day, 90% of which repeat daily.”
  • “An emotion chemically lasts 90 seconds.”
  • “When you adjust your inner environment, you shift all hormones. We cannot look at isolated pieces or single hormones, but must consider them as a whole.
  • “Our thoughts, hormones, and outcomes are all interrelated.”

Maybe I really can out-think the effects of menopause and osteoarthritis. I sure can’t outrun them anymore!

Cody Sipe at IDEA 2014

Cody Sipe mesmerizing us with Functional Fit Facts

Or as movement specialist and award winning trainer, Cody Sipe, PhD stated in his workshop, “Functional Circuits for Aging Clients”:

  • “Osteoarthritis is the primary chronic condition among people 55 and older.”

Anyone else out there not excited to be a statistic? Having just had both my 56th birthday and an orthopedic appointment to discuss two future knee surgeries, I am motivated to retrain my brain to reduce the pain so I can gain. That’s my refrain!

Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink

(Can you identify the piece of literature the above quote comes from? Then you are a true baby boomer, literate person, or good googler).

R la P fountains

At last I have found you, the Fountain of Youth and Pain Free Joints

To wrap up, let’s go with a total non sequitur about water. Given that California is in a severe drought, anything about water seems relevant.

Alexandra and I roused ourselves early to attend “Water 101” sponsored by Gerolsteiner Mineral water. Honestly, the free breakfast and gift pack helped motivate me. Turns out the talk was worth getting up for after all.
Did you know that 75% of the earth is covered by water. Of that huge amount, only 3/10th of 1 % is drinkable. Gives one pause for drought thought, eh? And with that fun fit fact, I am off to think about a drink.

Does your event need education, motivation, and fit-elation? Call us to speak at (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Comfortably move your way to our YouTube channel for short videos that will improve your active aging adventure! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

7

Best Workout Surfaces

Alexandra Williams, MA

As a boomer and group fitness instructor with one reconstructed knee and a fused big toe (both due to soccer), I am always mindful about the surfaces I exercise on. Some surfaces hurt; others feel cushiony and safe. Whether you have an injury or are trying to prevent one, it’s smart to work out on a forgiving, protective surface.

pic of Regupol process

From Rejected to Recycled to Regupol

In order to share the best information with you, I went last week to Pennsylvania to check out a variety of floor surfaces as a guest of Regupol, German-American makers of rubber sports and fitness flooring made of recycled tires.

Last year we wrote a post about running surfaces in answer to a reader question, which you’ll want to read. One main point from that post is to pay attention to the three S’s: Springback, Shock absorption, and Stability. In the pictures below, you can see that I tested every Regupol floor in a variety of workout modes. I even ran (which many of you know I gave up after my knee surgeries). The three S’s were there in all cases, and I had zero joint pain. I even felt daring in a sense, because I could try stuff I had been afraid would hurt previously.

Over two days we visited Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys & Girls Club,

pic from visit to Boys and Girls club, Nicetown

John of Regupol (and “Rocky” movie expert). P.S. I suck at basketball.

 

Horsham Athletic Club,

pic at Horsham Athletic Club

I can fly!

 

Villanova University Basketball Training Room and Football & Olympic Sports Training Room,

pic of Regupol flooring at Villanova

V for Very light weight (or Villanova University)

 

Lancaster Mennonite High School,

Running on the Lancaster Mennonite High Regupol track

Yup, I RAN the track. All the way around. (photo credit: Michael Gaio of Athletic Business)

 

Franklin & Marshall College,

pic on the track at Franklin & Marshall U

Running, Pole Vault & Steeplechase. No idea about two of those.

 

and the Regupol America facility. During the tour, in addition to checking for comfort and support, I paid attention to additional details that I feel are important:

Sustainability

In 2011, Regupol America became the first company in Pennsylvania to earn a coveted GreenCircle certification. Sustainable manufacturing utilizes processes that are non-polluting, conserve energy and natural resources, and are economically sound for the community. During the factory tour, we learned that the waste is practically zero. Actually, the only thing I remember them mentioning as trash is the plastic wrap that encases the ready-to-ship flooring rolls. Oh, I also learned that “Regupol” stands for REcycled GUmmi (rubber) POLymer. So German!

Acoustics and Absorption

If you’re a grunter, singer or screamer, you might be happy to be in a workout area that absorbs those sounds! And if you are someone who drops your weights (very few exercises exist that actually require you to do so, by the way), you will want an absorbing floor that doesn’t disturb the exercisers below (can you tell I’ve endured years of teaching where the sounds of dropped weights on the floor above are louder than my group exercise music?).

Olympic-Level Quality

Some of the tracks we visited are exactly the same as the the one on which Usain Bolt won the 2009 Berlin World Championships. If you have a kid headed to university who wants to compete in Track and Field, this might be a deal-maker.

The moral of the story (I’ve always wanted to say that) is this: if your joints hurt after exercising, switch to a better surface. Such things DO exist. Now I’m working on a plan to convince Regupol to recycle some of their flooring as sandal soles. If my childhood huaraches from Mexico can have tire pieces glued on as soles, my adulthood sandals surely can have an updated version, right?!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, nor was I asked to write this post. Regupol paid for my trip to Pennsylvania. They even shared local trivia about the “Amish Mafia” (some sort of TV show) and the “Rocky” movies!

 

12

Why Do You Exercise? Is Looking Good Enough?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

FitBlogLA name tag

This personalized Meet and Tweet Greet was Sweet!

“The ultimate goal of working out is to be happy and healthy.” So opened fitness celebrity, Tony Horton of P90X fame at the FitBlogLA Meet and Tweet event I just attended courtesy of Fitness Magazine.

When Tony followed up that comment by reminding us that “one size exercise program does not fit all,” I started to trust his message a bit more. Known worldwide for his high intensity, high impact, high energy exercise programs, Tony was the last person I expected to advocate for moderation, caution, and mental flexibility. Yet here he was spreading the word that “our goal as fitness professionals and (healthy living) bloggers is to get more people into the movement game” while getting our ego out. He admitted up front that his program, or ANY high intensity workout is right for some, but not all. As baby boomers, we might want to go all out, but if our joints don’t agree, then we’re wise to modify. I, for one, am neither happy nor healthy when I push too hard and increase my knee pain. Sure, I love the benefits intense workouts offer, but not if I suffer long term.

Stick with me as I share a few more quotes and key comments from Tony’s talk on “The New Way to Work Out” that may elevate your happiness and healthiness levels! (For more on the effect your reasons for working out matter so much, also read our post Why You Want to Lose Weight Affects Your Success.

Why Do You Work Out?

Kymberly at FitBlogLA pool

Being strong enough to wear new outfits makes me happy!

What gets you into the movement game? Why do you exercise? If you are like most people I have taught and met in fitness classes over the last 34 years on 4 continents and online, you work out to … wait for it … wait for it… look better. You may also want to feel better, to live longer, to think more cogently — or reap a zillion other benefits that movement offers. But looking better continues to pop up as reason numero uno. If we ask ourselves why we want to look better, what lies beyond? To do what? To be what? To get what? I think Tony nailed it that we really seek a level of happiness. Oh Yes, I firmly believe active people are happier people.

What Scary Activity Will You Try?

Snowboarding in Lake tahoe

Not Yet Going Scary Fast

“Do scary things that won’t kill you,” challenged Tony, himself a baby boomer. What physical activity have you thought about doing that scares you a bit? For me, it was learning to snowboard. Going downhill fast still scares me. Doing plyo jump squats scares my knee into “cap” – tivity. Get it? Ha ah aha My sense of humor scares others, but not me.

Do You Prioritize Skill Over Number, Amount, Duration, Speed, Flash and Flair?

“Focus on getting better as opposed to going through the motions.” Tony’s emphasis on form and technique over pushing hard and damn the torpedoes was a welcome message I hope you take to heart. And to the gym. Doing more bad reps does not give you better results. Better form gets you to your happy place. In fact, your body will change when you focus on skill. Well, your body will change regardless (thanks again menopause!), but we’re talking changing for the better with mindful movement.

Remember the mantra from our post, Reducing Obesity — What Does and Doesn’t Work: Move More: Sit Less and you will be on your way to more happiness. Don’t Worry; Be Happy (Thanks Bobby McFerrin for getting that tune stuck in our heads).  Feel free to leave answers to the questions in our post down in the comment section.

Got an event that could use a twin pack of movement and great fitness info?

A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

C) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

 

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