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Knee Problems: How Do I Protect My Knees?

Dear K and A: Are there knee exercises to reduce knee problems? How do I protect my knees when participating in aerobics classes or walking down stairs? I want to stay active as I go through midlife yet even have knee pain when walking. Midlife Mindy, Santa Barbara, CA

have knee problems or knee pain? Alexandra: Hi Mindy. The best protection is to take them off and put them in a gym bag while doing those intense activities. If your knees are still in their original packaging, this might be a challenge, so you should just give them a light buff and wax. That will protect them for sure, although Fun and Fit do not offer the extended warranty. And you are on your own if your knees get any scratches. Would you like me to go into detail about strengthening up and stretching the muscles that support your slacker knees, including the much-forgotten VMO? No, that is not an insurance plan, that is the Vastus Medialis Obliquus, and yes, it is spelled like that.

Famous Movie Parts for Moving Parts

Do you recall the character played by Michael Palin in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” – and his friend Biggus Dickus? That, too, is spelled correctly, but is an entirely different issue. No body part with Latin in its description (that would apply to er, um, well, all of them) should have to live in pain. It’s all about balance.

Knee Strengthening Exercises Need to Include GLUTES

Kymberly: Well, Mindy since you are asking a serious question, you deserve a serious answer. And, well…, how shall I put this. Fun and Fit is known for going on larks. But for YOU, we’ll pretend for a minute to be on point. Strengthen your quads. Perhaps even more important, strengthen and activate your glutes! Do the same for your inner thighs and hamstrings so you stay balanced muscularly. Strengthen your anterior tibialis (shins) while you’re at it. Why not since we’re on a workout roll?! Keep your knees tracking in line with your upper leg and lower leg, No turning your feet one way when your knees are pointing in another. And no turning your knees one way when your pelvic structure dictates something different. Got a compass so you can keep up with me and your top dog, top of the org chart pelvic structure?

Have knee pain? Been told to strengthen your quads? Surprise! Another muscle group may be more… Click To Tweet

The evidence that having activated, strong, balanced glutes to help with knee pain is growing.  Some medical professionals now advise that the gluteals play a bigger role than the quadriceps in affecting knee problems.

Knee Pain Program

Knee Strengthening Exercises and Movement Tips

When doing choreography that locomotes you forward or going down stairs, try to keep your knee above or behind your toes. Beware of all that forward and downward motion pushing your knees too far in front of your body and past the vertical plane of your feet. Otherwise you are putting a lot of pressure on the poor little kneecaps. Translation = knee pain.  Also take a look at the exercises and solutions shown in the program “Fix My Knee Pain,” created by a colleague and qualified fitness pro we know and trust.  For instance, did you know that tucking your feet under your seat when sitting (say, at a computer reading a great post like this one!) actually stresses your knee joints? Instead, extend your legs in front of you under your desk.  This post gives you more ideas on how to address knee problems: Solving Knee Pain: What Is and Isn’t Working

Alexandra: Why don’t you just hire a proxy to do your cardio and stair activities? Save your knees for parties (the tried and true “barf in a plant” maneuver) and asking forgiveness.

Got knee problems? Strengthen the glutes. quads, and your expression!

How are those knees holding up? Ouch! Activate your glutes, quads, and strong facial expressions.

Knights Who Say “Knee”

Kymberly: You know, I have to agree with Alexandra. All this serious advice leaves me out of humor. Where are Monty Python, Michael Palin and Biggus Dickus when I “kneed” them?  Pfft, well in their absence, console yourself with other posts we have provided to knee pain sufferers:

Can’t Run or Jump?

Knee Pain: Just Say No … Didn’t Work

Got Bad Knees? Step Lively Once Again

Do your knees ever hurt after exercise? What activities have you altered because of knee pain? Do you know any fun Latin phrases?
ACTION: Take a look at this program, Fix My Knee Pain if you are truly motivated to reduce knee problems and move pain-free. Yes, this is an affiliate link, which we chose because we know the trainer, trust him, and have used his program ourselves. This program has LOADS of exercises you can start doing at home, now.
INACTION: What happens if you don’t take our professional, perfeshunul advice and push too hard despite pain? In this post about knee surgery, read what Alexandra’s poor, long-suffering knee had to undergo last week after years of action and bone on bone.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA







Overcoming Obstacles: Time for Knee Replacement Surgery

When I was approached by Socialstars about working on a sponsored post with Advil on the topic of overcoming obstacles and pain, I immediately signed on, knowing the reconstructive knee surgery I’d had in 1998 (thanks to a soccer game) had finally failed, and that it was time for knee replacement surgery.

In the 18 years since my original surgery, I’ve continued to teach group fitness classes, go on long (and short) hikes, and generally stick with my fairly active lifestyle, even with follow-up surgeries over the years.
one-legged plank on the StepHowever, the reconstruction that was supposed to last ten years (it’s been 18) has finally failed and I will have gone in for replacement surgery by the time you read this. I should probably even be back home recuperating at this very moment.

I remember my recuperation from ‘98, which is another way of saying “physical therapy.” I had a lot of PT, and it hurt. Sometimes the therapy exercises hurt so much that tears would spontaneously “spring” from my eyes. I wasn’t sad; it was involuntary. I know many people don’t do all of their at-home PT because it hurts, which makes total sense. Who wants to self-inflict pain? However, it’s my knee, and no-one else’s, and I want it back in working order as quickly as possible.

advil for headaches

Look ma, no headaches. My mind is completely in balance as I visualize my new knee.

I know what I’m headed for as I teach my body to accept its bionic new joint. It’s going to hurt a lot. That’s just the way it is. But only in the short run. Then I’ll be done with recurring pain, arthritis, stiffness, and compensatory issues in my left IT band. I’ll be done with limping and having a permanently bent knee. Maybe I’ll even be able to kneel on my right knee again too, instead of shifting all my weight to the left.

After my reconstruction surgery in 1998, I stayed with my sister for a week or two. I diligently did my therapy exercises and tried to participate in day-to-day stuff as well. Heck, she even rented a wheelchair and took me along with her on a 5K walk to raise money to help find a cure for MS. Ask her to tell the story of trying to tip me over into the sidewalk plants along Santa Barbara’s State Street. “Accidentally.”

Years later, she had to have some knee surgery and therapy too. After hers, she told me that she had thought I was overdramatizing the amount of knee pain I was in during the time I recuperated at her house, but after having her own surgery realized I was seriously downplaying how much it hurt. Glad she didn’t share her opinion at the the time or I might have clocked her with my crutch.

Running on the Lancaster Mennonite High Regupol track
With this surgery being even more extensive than the original one, I already know it will hurt to get back to normal. But if I let that deter me, I won’t get to my goal – teaching a full load of classes in the Fall quarter, rejoining my dance team, and walking the dog.

I’m not one to reach for meds (over-the-counter or prescription) as a first resort, but I’ve also learned that they exist for a reason. I know that I’ll have to use the pain meds the surgeon prescribes, at least for a few days. I also know I’ll cut the dosage in half because I don’t like what they do to my mind and stomach. Last time I tried to “go it alone,” and had more pain and inflammation than necessary. I guess the obstacle I needed to overcome was my own stubbornness.

Besides determination, what else you can do to overcome pain and obstacles? #ad @AdvilRelief Click To Tweet

Just as I worked hard to complete a half-marathon after one of my lesser knee surgeries, and stay fit after toe surgery (also thanks to soccer, which I still love, but no longer play), I’ll work hard this summer too. It’s MY knee. It’s MY life. And it’s MY responsibility to treat my body (and new knee) with respect. Over the summer, and once I’m back to teaching, I’ll use Advil for the muscle soreness that’s going to be part of adjusting to my new, bionic (I wish) knee. I used it to relieve the arthritic pain from it being bone-on-bone, so I already know it will help. And the active ingredient is ibuprofen, which doesn’t bother my stomach.

Dog walk at More Mesa

My sis will be walking my dog for me until I’m back in walking action.

So no travel posts for a while (no driving for this girl till August), and no self-pity (I might change my mind on that). Mostly I’m looking forward to being active again, but without the issues my poor ol’ bone-on-bone knee had. And you know what hurt the most? Sitting in place for too long. Yup, moving was more comfortable than sitting. Which is exactly as it should be.

Here’s to me and my knee!

June is National Headache month, and Advil would like to know how you deal with headaches. So would we.

Alexandra Williams, MA

photo credits: Alexandra


What Activity Would You Take Up if You Didn’t Have to Worry About …?

Creaky Joints, Urinary Incontinence, and Chronic Pain

Walk, don't run if you have urinary incontinenceKymberly: What if you wanted to age as actively as possible, but had to curtail your activities because of …. well for a myriad of reasons. For instance, both Alexandra and I have knee arthritis that affects our workout and recreation choices. Many women over 50 have chronic pain or medical issues that curtail their ability to live life to the extent they desire. Odds are you are in that group. And urinary incontinence is another condition that may cause you to discontinue or never take up certain activities. Nothing like fear of leakage and embarrassment to affect confidence and freedom, right?


If my knees suddenly were arthritis-free, I’d play soccer again, run with my dogs, and add plyometric moves back to my step class choreography. Also, I’d be ready to train hard when Dancing With the Stars calls to have my twin sis and me be part of their next season. (Who agrees that a sibling theme would be great? Venus and Serena, the Olsen twins, the Property Brothers, us!) And if Alexandra didn’t have to worry about bladder leakage, she’d probably wear white tights. Maybe not. She likes colorful workout gear. And she’s hard to embarrass. Still, you get my point.

What Activity Have You Given Up Because of Urinary Incontinence?

Yes, my main point is to wonder: What would you take up if you did not have to worry about urinary incontinence? Would you laugh more? Pick up a new sport? Restart a workout you once loved but gave up because of bladder leakage? Have you stopped an activity because it made you pee your pants?  What if you could stop leaks before they happen? Would that make a difference in your midlife happily ever after?

Has fear of embarrassment caused you to stop or never start a workout or exercise program? Click To Tweet

Exercise, Sneeze, Laugh, Pee

Impresa by Poise

Found at Walmart for only $4.97 for the sizing kit.

Disclosure Moment: This post is sponsored by Poise Impressa’s sizing kit

Alexandra: When we were asked to collaborate with Poise Impressa to learn and share about the sizing kit, I jumped (metaphorically only, for obvious reasons) at the chance, because I teach exercise and hike a lot and do NOT like having to worry about peeing my workout capris. Curse those big-headed boys I gave birth to for saddling me with a loose saddle. Mainly I was curious as to what exactly a sizing kit is.

On the way home from a trip to Carmel, I stopped at the Walmart in Arroyo Grande to get the kit. Ta da – right there in the “incontinence” section. Are you ever tempted to buy extra stuff just to cover up the embarrassing stuff in your shopping basket, or is that just me? In the end, I kind of thought, “What the heck. The only people who will stare at me are either women my age who understand, or young people who will find out one day.” I stopped to take selfies instead.

When you laugh, jump, exercise, sneeze or jump do you pee your pants? #triedimpressa @Walmart Click To Tweet
Poise kit at Walmart

Scored a selfie and a sizing kit right by the pharmacy at Arroyo Grande Walmart.

I’ve now satisfied my curiosity. Right on the box it has a helpful chart (I almost said “flow chart.” Dang, so punny) – If you leak when you laugh, cough, sneeze, dance or exercise – Stress Urinary Incontinence – these bladder supports (’cause that’s what they are) should be right for you. If you have a sudden need to pee – Urge Urinary Incontinence – then these are NOT for you. The purpose of the kit is to help you figure out the right size before buying a whole package (which you can see costs $11.97). Essentially, it’s like a tampon. Start with size 1. If you still have drips and dabs, try size 2, then size 3 if necessary.

Look, it may be an embarrassing topic, but as someone teaching in front of hundreds of students every week, it’s less embarrassing to talk about the need for the bladder supports than it is to try and surreptitiously check my backside in the mirror every time I do a jumping jack or Burpee. Come to think of it, why the heck am I teaching Burpees? Burpees are very disrespectful, according to the lady in this hysterical video that you MUST watch.

Poise-Zann-Supine-1I think I’ll go now and teach a nice, relaxing supine core move. Be impressed. And Impressa-ed.

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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


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Why Is My Lower Body in Pain After Running & Walking?

Dear K and A:  How come I can run 10 miles Saturday morning with no soreness, but slowly walking 8 miles  leaves my entire lower body in pain? Sunday I rested. Monday I did a 5 mile easy run that felt great. Then Tuesday’s slow 8 mile walk made me sore again! Sherry, the Deep South, USA

2015 Solstice ParadeDear Sore Sherry:

Alexandra: Well, “Day-um” as my other southern friends would say! And “DOMS.” Which is not a way of cussing with a northern accent. It stands for Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness. We talked about it in  “How Do I Prevent Calf Soreness after Walking Hills,” (or as we are tempted to entitle it: “My Calves Have a Stiffy.” Can you tell we’re happy to talk about sore muscles and preventing exercise discomfort.)

Avoiding Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

K hamstring stretch on tree

Essentially, elevating your core temperature (and thereby henceforthwith and so forthy warming up the muscles) within 24 hours of the original cardio activity will help prevent muscle soreness later on. You don’t have to repeat the 10 mile run, but a walk of just ten minutes should do the trick.  It could be the running is making you sore, and that you simply aren’t feeling it until one or two days later. Then walking gets all the blame. Instead blame DOMS.

Walking and Running Powered by Opposite Muscle Groups

Kymberly: Running is powered primarily by calves and quads. Walking is powered by glutes and shins (and therefore a great cross training or complementary cardio activity). So if you are used to running and added the walking recently, then your body may simply have been adapting to using your muscles in a new or different way. I am not sure if the pace has anything to do with the soreness unless the slow pace dictated or created an unusual gait that did not work for you biomechanically.

Walking & Running Are Opposites, powered by complementary muscle pairs: quads and calves vs… Click To Tweet
graph of Q angle

Q Angle for Women & Men

Alexandra: Door #3 – If it’s not delayed muscle soreness, could your pain be caused from overuse? Is it standard for you to do 31 miles in a 4-day span? Somewhere in here I’ll throw out the concept of post-run stretching…oh, there, I just did! Could be you also need more recovery time between runs and walks.

With your entire lower body in pain, have you considered the pain might be due to shin splints or your Q-angle? (get solutions from our post, Prevent Shin Splints: Three Calf Stretches). If you have fairly wide hips and/or a narrow stance, then your knees might be the ones yelling “ouchy.”

Talking Muscle or Joint Pain?

Kymberly: When you feel better, run or walk over to our group fitness classes so you can let us know whether your pain and soreness are in your joints or muscles. If muscles, I’d say pull a Bobby McFerrin: “Don’t worry; Be happy.” Simply do 10 minutes of light cardio within 24 hours of a new, intensified, or added activity to give your muscles a chance to reheat and release. But if the pain is in your joints, then worry. … and change your gait or stride, as now we may be talking something biomechanical. In this case get a certified trainer or health professional to assess you. Do not light up those joints!

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Photo credit: Photobucket

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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA



Bad Knees? Step Lively Once Again

Teaching Step: Once Upon a TIme

Teaching Step: Once Upon a Time

Three decades and thirty “added bonus” pounds ago, I had good knees. And a waistline. (But no adorable hubster or beloved daughter, so age and time have their benefits!) Then came a soccer mishap, two knee surgeries, extreme knee osteoarthritis, and a mid-workout, in class torn menisci injury – my first slap me down, make me hollah, painful accident after 35 years’ of teaching group fitness.

What midlife lady twin personage of non-royal lineage wants painful joints and limited activity, I ask you? Not I!  But having to accept and deal with physical changes is part of aging actively. Well, of aging in any way. Grrrrrr to that but better than the alternative.

Pain, Pain, Pain. Pain of Fools

Have you also found yourself dropping or reducing exercises or movements you once loved because your joints are on a different program? One that kinda hurts and limits you? Me too. In fact, you can read about my famous, unruly knees by reading this personal knee post and this one on what I tried before surgery. You may see some solutions if your joints are anything like mine. Just come back here to find out my GOOD news!

Steps, but no class or teaching

Steps, but no class or teaching

Anyway, the torn menisci adventure and inevitable surgery was six months ago. (Cute doctor, by the way and also a baby boomer.) After teaching step classes since hair was big and Prince’s song “1999” was sooo futuristic, I was put on the layaway plan. Stop for now or pay later. Half a year of no beloved step workouts. Yes, I would miss the exercise; yes, I would miss my step class participants; yes, I would feel discouraged and “olderish” as the weeks then months went by with no miraculous knee recovery. You know what I mean? — the whole identity questioning thing: “But I’ve always been a group fitness leader and go-getter, not a recovering injured person. Whine whine rail and moan!”

Fluid drained from Kymberly's knee

Ewwww! Just some of what the doctor drained from my knee.

Fortunately two months post surgery I was cleared to teach my other classes that did not involve level changes and repeated ups and downs. Yay to teaching “Forever Fit” workouts and to walking daily and taking up outrigger paddling (Extra Extra Read all about it here) . Still no step. Sad and worried face.

Knees That Walk, and Squeak, and Squawk

But guess what??!! As of this week, I am officially cleared to get back on that step and rock the cues and cardio choreography!! Not that I plan to be stoopid or anything. Both the arthritis/soccer knee and the torn menisci knee still talk to me. With an accent that sounds like it’s from the isle of Crete in Greece. You know, the Creak accent. My knees no longer speak Rushin’ which is too bad, though happily they don’t speak Finnish. Ahha  I did not say my jokes underwent rehab.

Fix My Knee Pain: Buy It, Do It, Feel Better

Speaking of rehab, I totally believe in it, did it, advocate it. If you have knee issues that are causing you pain or limiting your life consider one of the programs I followed in conjunction with rehab: Fix My Knee Pain. Cut to the commercial. You’ll want to check this program out if you desire more cooperative joints. The expert, Rick Kaselj is a colleague, whose presentations my sister and I have personally attended. Would you rather spend a fortune and waste painful years trying to ignore your knee pain? Um, that was my approach, by the way. It didn’t really work. Read about that misadventure here: Just Say No … Didn’t Work. Or are you going to use some of your hard earned wisdom and invest in yourself and joint comfort? Do yourself a favor and at least click the link to find out what the Fix My Knee Pain videos and exercises can do for you.

Teaching, But Not Step

Teaching, But Not Step

Stepping on Stage

Back to our regularly scheduled program — soooo, after weeks of easing my way into half classes, slower paced, platform only, no risers, not on the stage myself, step-a-licious workouts, I will officially be teaching again, on schedule, with my name listed, and the mic at my lips, calling the step cues. With no plyo moves or heavy twists or turns. I did mention “hard earned wisdom” and “not being stoopid.” Time to rock the step with confidence and hope that my knees will at least not get worse. Hold the line, as Toto tells us. Cue fun music. I am going with the DreamGirls song “Step On Over,” NOT the other one in that musical “Steppin’ to the Bad Side.”

Getting closer. A Step, me, the fitness room

Time to find out whether the surgery, months off, Fix MyKnee program, rehab, deep tissue massage, various supplements, ice, and reworking of my gait patterns will be enough. Stay tuned. (I was talking to my knees just then. While patting them nicely).
Step, step, step to my Lou. You too! See you there, pain free!

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Readers: Can you name the songs I am spoofing in two of the above subtitles? Do tell! Or if you prefer to do something else, then check out the Fix My Knee program. Sure, my sis and I are affiliates for it, but that’s because we know it can help.


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. Doing 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.


Are These Boomer-Friendly Fitness Trends in Your Future?

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


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.


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


Skulpt Aim measuring Kymberly's quad


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.



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.

Bonus Tip: Read our posts, “Knights Who Say “Knee” and “What Can You Do When Your Joints Ache and Holler” for more knee solutions.


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. 


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 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.

The food industry recognizes the importance to increase your plant intake and decrease your meat… Click To Tweet

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.

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