Alexandra Williams, MA
According to research by the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy, “being part of a cohort – a tight-knit, reliable, common-purpose group – is very important in different ways.” Not only were we tight-knit, we were on a mission to squish as many people as possible onto a couch. Sort of like a slumber party, but with a reasonable amount of sleep.
As humans, we strive to create meaning in our lives, which we do by growing, learning and giving. We do these things best when we have connections. Connections with women who both support and challenge me helps me create meaning, especially when I believe those women understand me, or at least have the framework to share a language that leads to understanding.
Okay, that’s all well and good and counselor-ish, but just like exercise, if it’s not fun, we aren’t going to do it. Speaking of which, our exercise classes for BAM were at 7 a.m. which we discovered was a bit out of the majority of the attendees’ comfort time zone. So now we have a conundrum to solve – how to help midlife women realize that you gain energy for a long day by getting up early to work out. In any case, Kymberly’s Abs, Balance, Core class and my Drums Alive workout were really fun for all who were there, as evidenced by these comments from Candace Karu of Cabot Cheese and Rebecca Olkowski.
As I’ve aged, I’ve discovered that I’m an outgoing introvert, or maybe an extrovert who likes a lot of “listening and observing” time. While teaching or presenting (we also gave a talk about media kits for bloggers) I am very animated and sociable, yet found that much of my “people enjoyment” came from listening to others’ stories. Are you more of a talker or a listener? I found it extremely satisfying to hear the stories my friends (which was everyone at the conference) shared – stories of loss, powerlessness, poverty, struggle, heartbreak, exhilaration, achievement and reinvention. These stories enabled me to feel part of the “girl gang” as we all have histories that got us to where we are now.
The “In” Group
Do you ever feel like you are on the outside looking at those on the inside? I do sometimes, especially at my job at the university, where every year I’m a year older and the students are still 20. My heart and plans and thoughts and desires all feel young to me, yet sometimes my body reminds me that I’m in my 50s. Sometimes my two boys make me feel old, simply because they are now grown up. I don’t want to be young again, yet certainly don’t see myself as old either. Being around a hundred women my age automatically put me into the “in” group. We were ALL good-looking and effervescent; fashionable and interesting. No-one was dismissed; there was no “outsiders” group. Doesn’t that sound like Friend Utopia?
Do you have a good balance of new and long-term friends? As I age, I find it important to make new friends as well as relishing my friendships that go as far back as a half-century. After the conference was over, Kymberly and I were taken on a Nashville sightseeing adventure by good friends we made via social media over the past few years – Kathy of Live the Fine Life, and Brenda (a single redhead from Alabama; hint to single guys). When I was young, I just accepted that everyone I met was my friend. As I aged, that changed, yet I still know when someone JUST IS my friend. I like the freedom age gives me to choose my friends based on nothing more than that I like them.
On that note, you get to see some pictures of downtown Nashville, courtesy of my desire to improve my photography skills. I don’t know if the BAM conference will be in Nashville in 2016, but I do know Nashville has lots to offer. I also know that I’ll be at the conference no matter where it’s held, because – Friends.
As Kathy Bates said in Fried Green Tomatoes, “Face it girls, I’m older and have more insurance.” In other words, we have money. And we’ll spend it with brands that acknowledge our existence. The sponsors of the inaugural Bloggers at Midlife conference deserve a shout-out for doing just that.
Support these brands:
1010 Park Place
Kymberly: Want the Ultimate Baby Boomer Body? Personally I am ok with the “Ixnay on the Bikini, but I’ll Still Wear a One-Piece” Body. To get either version, you’ll need to incorporate 7 important, midlife-specific training principles into your exercise routines.
First, we need to establish and agree that midlife exercisers are special, with unique attributes.Want the Ultimate Baby Boomer Body? Incorporate these 7 midlife-specific training principles… Click To Tweet
So what do we unusual, interesting, unique, and different women need to do to achieve functionally strong and healthy bodies, minds and attitudes? How can we create targeted workout routines for women like you (and us)?
Alexandra: I am seriously hoping the answer involves Clive Owen or Colin Firth, but I’ll settle for just assuming you are speaking of ME when you use the adjectives “unusual, interesting, unique, and different.” Hmmm, second guess. Does it involve bacon? Even though I am a vegetarian, I feel certain that the answer to many things is “bacon.”
Now, you said midlife women are special in 6 ways. And if you’d given 6 training principles, I’d know Bacon was the answer — Kevin Bacon. If you don’t know about the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, you can read the link while doing your seven training principles. To defy gravity (and age), plus engage in gym movements, do this Footloose workout.
Kymberly: We know my sister is really Baking, not Bacon Woman. Anyway, stay Footloose and Bacon Free when you incorporate the following into your regimen:
Continue to build bone strength by selecting impact activities. Especially at our age, we need to strike the ground by walking, jogging, skipping, and stepping to stimulate our bones. Step classes are particularly effective at offering impact without adverse joint stress. This is a case of wanting gravity’s effects!
Choose movements and exercises that mimic daily life activities such as climbing stairs, loading groceries into the car, carrying luggage on fun, exotic, vacation trips. (A boomer can envision, nicht wahr?) Such exercises might include step ups and squats, for instance.
Brace through the core and hinge from the hips. Add dead lifts to your repertoire — but let’s call them “live lifts,” shall we? Look for opportunities to activate the back (dorsal side) of your body in addition to performing ab and core work.
Be sure to sit and stand “strong.” Address muscle imbalances. Take action now to improve posture now and later. No Dowager’s Hump for you, just Dowager title and property rights. Speak to me Downton Abbey fans!
You can see where fitness classes really are ideal for those of us wanting more than physical payoff from our workouts.
Reap on land some of the gravity defying benefits of water exercise. Who doesn’t look forward to reduced joint stress, buoyancy, and a certain lightness of being? Translate that “up” feeling to land movement by emphasizing the up phase. For example, with squats, engage your muscles more when standing than lowering. Change the pace, speed, or emPHAsis of moves to prioritize the press away from the floor. In short, concentrate on the parts of exercises that work against gravity.
I, I, I , yi yi! Use both cardio and resistance training to target age-related risks and preventable declines. Do the exercises you choose challenge your mobility? Balance? Bones? Coordination? Just as you might choose nutritionally dense foods, select movements that offer a compound or multiple return for your invested effort.
Kymberly: Begin with the end in mind — increase overall strength, stamina, core strength, mental agility, resistance to disease, and ability to continue pursuing life with vigor and enthusiasm. Heck, we also want to look good, right?
Alexandra: I’ve only got my end in mind.
Action: To really be ahead of the game, try Training Principle Number 8 — Subscribe! Have us come to you twice a week with fitness pro insider insights on how you can age more actively than all the other baby boomers you know. Enter your name and email into any of the subscription boxes. Plus claim your bonus.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
As part of a Vibrant Influencer Network campaign on behalf of Depend, we are receiving a fee for this post. All the opinions and experiences are our own. Anyway, who would want to steal our opinions and experiences?
I gave birth to two big-headed boys in the mid-90s. I have also taught exercise classes since the early 80s and currently teach at a local club and university. At the U, my students love high impact workouts such as kickboxing, sports drills, HIIT, boot camp … well, you get the drill. Jumpy, bouncy workouts.
Thanks to my boys’ big-headed exits from me, I have to cross my legs when I sneeze or cough if I’m standing. But it’s impossible to cross my legs while doing a jumping jack or burpee. Try it and you’ll see what I mean!
I’ve done Kegels for years, but they only work up to a certain point. So I need a back-up plan. Over the years I’ve tried various mini and maxi pads. I modify my moves as well, to avoid a lot of impact. I have no interest in surgery, as that’s too extreme of a choice for me. So when I was contacted to try the Depend for Women underwear with Fit-Flex protection, I said yes, as I’m probably the perfect fit for their target demographic (<—- see what I did there?). Like you (probably), my first reaction was “What?! I’m too young for those. Aren’t those undies for my parents? But I’m pragmatic, and kind of had a mental checklist:
1. I need something so that I can continue to do high impact workouts
2. I have to wear underwear
3. I might as well try something that combines #1 and #2
So I did end up wearing the undies they sent me for a few of my classes. I definitely felt less worried. Because they are kind of textured like the elastic shirts of the early 70s (wish I had pics from that time), they looked bumpy under my fitness capris. I would love for Kimberly-Clark to come up with a version that’s smooth and shaped like boy shorts. In any case, I folded the top part down, then put a pair of boy shorts over the Fit-Flex undies. That solved it, and I had a smooth line. I think all those layers even gave me a rounder tush! Score!!!!
One little bonus is that you can tear them off. Who cares, right? Well, I teach 3 classes in a row two days a week, and only the first two are impact classes. Without time in between the 2nd and 3rd class to completely undress then re-dress, I just tore them off in under 30 seconds. Not in public.
We’d love to get your comments, suggestions, solutions and opinions. Let us know what works for you.
Seriously, you’re going to have to wait for it as we have something MORE pressing for you to take advantage of. (Yes, you got exposed to all caps shouting). Our upgraded, revamped, moved over radio show launches in hours on VoiceAmerica.com!
Why listen to our new show, Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers? Do you want to achieve any of the following?:
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Our first episode is entitled Midlife Weight Gain: What Can You Do About Hormones, Menopause, and Menopot? Our kick-off guest is author, biologist, blogger, and certified fitness trainer, Tamara Grand, PhD. She will knock your night sweaty socks off!
Be part of our big debut. But only if you want to be smarter, stronger, slimmer, sexier, healthier, and taller. Or if you want to show your hormones who’s boss. Click on any of the links or images to take a radio wave time travel jump to the show. Into the future – your healthy future!