Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
If you are like some of the older adults in the Forever Fit Cardio fitness class I teach at Spectrum, you don’t necessarily want 30 years added to your lifespan. And these are active adults in their 60s-80s, so imagine what inactive people might say to living to 100 and beyond. And yet, it is possible to greet such an offer with delight, not dread.
However, the worry about adding years to life without adding life to those years is well-founded. When we interviewed for our radio show, highly recognized active aging expert, Colin Milner, founder of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), he laid out some interesting stats and scenarios facing our baby boomer population.
According to Milner, the US and Canada have shoveled out trillions of dollars to increase longevity. And that effort has been quite successful: we North American humans have added an average of 30 additional years to our lives in just one century. That jump is bigger than the one my sister did when a tick landed on her during a dog walk the other day. The problem with the lifespan jump is that those added years are not proving to be healthy ones. Suuuuuu-prise, suuuu-prise. Or not really a surprise at all.
Basically, as we age, our generation faces 5 key challenges. (For the full story and examples, click to hear the radio interview “5 Top Challenges Redefining How We Age.” Then you can proudly claim you’ve been “Colinized!”).
For each problem, Colin Milner offers a corresponding suggestion. While he confesses that his advice may seem simple, he stresses that putting it into practice takes effort and focus. Making a plan to age in a healthy, “new thinking” way is hard. Yet aging inactively is harder.
All in all, the key is to be proactive in order to age actively. Whew! That’s a lot of action. But not yet enough, as what we ultimately need to do is create a plan for today and the added tomorrows. We can redefine how we age, writing a new and better ending for ourselves and history. As Colin asks, “What is your plan?” What expectations do you have — of yourself, your health, your future, your present? In short, what will you do with your 30 added years?
You’ll love “The Bug” ab exercise whether you’re a baby boomer, older adult, person with neck or head soreness, or simply someone who wants a great option to strengthen your abdominals without rounding forward into spinal flexion. And if you are wondering why you should care about rounding into spinal flexion, read our recent post that has abs training tips for older adults. All will be revealed. Click this <—– link and you’ll see the guy who has the abs (and chest) that Alexandra has admired since the 70s.
This core move is simple to do well, and very effective. The hardest part is remembering to keep your head on the floor or mat. And to bend your knees slightly. And to compress. Speaking of mats, what do you think of our nubbly, no slip beauty? We got it from Stillmotion yoga mats.
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Head over (with no neck strain) to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness with maximal impact yet minimal joint issues! 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.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Have you tried to set better habits before only to fail? Forget any past unsuccessful attempts. Accept that habit change requires more than willpower or goal setting. You need a tried and true strategy based on how we really behave.
Kymberly: I got to hear licensed psychologist, Neil Fiore, PhD, speak on behavior change at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Spa (“the Ranch”), when I was teaching there last week. Oh, those high level speakers the Ranch attracts for evening sessions — Just another bonus of going to Tecate, Mexico! I plan to make my presence there a habit! (Ya hear that, Ranch team?).
According to Dr. Fiore, a specialist in productivity, successful habit change is a four stage process.
Evaluate the pros and cons of the habit you want and the habit you are trying to leave behind. What are the risks? The benefits? What pain are you feeling and what are you willing to do to “kill” that pain?
Alexandra: For many people, the habit we are trying to leave behind is “eating food I know isn’t good for me.” What that really means is, “This food is not good for my weight loss goal, but it is good at giving me an immediate, temporary good emotional feeling.” So the habit to leave behind isn’t eating those foods; it’s eating them as a mood amelioration. One idea is to make up your mind to change that link.
Kymberly: Make a plan to get from the old to new habit. Map out the small steps required to shift from A to B. Consider the distractions you will face. Become aware of each action item needed to transition to better health.
Alexandra: Using the example above, commit to writing down your mood whenever you eat. Not just your mood on foods you feel aren’t helping your long-term goal, but also the ones that are. Probably the biggest challenge will be committing to writing everything down! Write that down! Jacktastic! (If you get this reference before clicking the link, you are part of the Melissa McCarthy groupies club, and should definitely be committed!)
Kymberly: Decide where and when you will start the new habit. What is your schedule? Accept that you will face doubts and anxious moments. Then show up despite your fears.
Alexandra: Okay, sometimes it’s not so good to show up, especially if Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream is calling you like one of Homer’s sirens. Your action plan would be to write down your food intake and moods and just observe. That’s it–observe what occurs. Interestingly, when people become aware of their habits, they change them without a lot of conscious effort (and the anguish that goes with it). Just as you picked up some bad habits without really intending to, so can you get rid of them. Obviously, it’s harder for some habits than others, especially if chemicals are involved (think smoking).
Kymberly: Truth?! You CAN handle the truth!: You will have setbacks. What is your recovery plan? Dr Fiore highlighted this as a key component of habit change success. Those who fall by the wayside give up after a setback, thinking one mistake or one bad moment means failure. Happy habit changers have accounted for the probability of setbacks and create a “get back on track” strategy.
Alexandra: In other words, plan to fail. Because planning will lead to success. No-one likes to be bossed around or told what one should or can’t do, even when it’s you talking to yourself. Create your plan based on what you can and will do! Picture your road to success as having rest stops, not as one big U-turn. Changing habits is mental so if you plan to incorporate the slow-downs, you’ll think, “Aha, I was expecting this, and now I will move forward again,” which is totally different than, “Aha, I’m a loser because I got off the straight and narrow and therefore forget it.”
There you habit!
Readers: What new or improved habit are you currently working on?
Start a good habit right now: Subscribe to our YouTube channel. And our blog. Follow us on Twitter: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. We make this an easy habit to instill by giving you handy dandy links in the right sidebar.
As our parents (and grandparents) age, they tend to lose a lot of their strength, mobility and balance. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sarcopenia (progressive decline in skeletal muscle mass…that may lead to decreased strength and functionality) is common among older adults, but exercise can help prevent muscle wasting (yup, the article in the link is by OUR Alexandra).
In honor of Father’s Day, and all fathers (mothers can do this workout too) who need more strength and mobility, we have created a functional, achievable mini-workout. Have your favorite fairly inactive older adult try it and let us know how it goes![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ordMc5oBDM[/youtube]
Cardio: 10 minutes
* Lower body – foot movement
* Upper body – arms and torso movement
If you use music, 150-160 bpm is ideal for really working up a sweat in this seated workout
* Sit to Stand – 10 reps – leg & core strength
* Wall Push-ups – 10-15 reps – upper body & core strength
* One- arm reach and rotate – 10 on each side – core strength, flexibility and balance
Heck, why not try it out yourself? It’s effective! May all our dads be around to enjoy good health for many years!
We are asked a LOT by our students and readers if soy is a good pre- or post-workout food. It’s a protein, and if you click to read the link you’ll discover
a picture of donuts and coffee that carbs and protein are your best choice after a workout. Soy has been controversial (The only food that isn’t controversial is dark chocolate – right?), so we try to stay up on the latest so we can give you our informed answer of “it depends.”
Alexandra: My son was allergic to soy when he was young, yet I can eat a gi-mantic bowl of edamame and feel nothing but full. So when we were offered the chance to write about some new research that just came out about the benefits of soy protein in combination with whey and casein, I was right in front,
shoving my colleagues out of the way raising my hand. Because I’m a vegetarian, I’m always interested in finding ways to get a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in my diet, especially as I’m not fond of fish oil (who is, I want to know? And who’s keeping anchovies on the pizza menus? Gag).
Kymberly: I am fond of fish oil that comes in fish. I like fish.
Without going in-depth about the research (we’d enjoy it, but you might start to glaze over and drool a bit), the bottom line is that soy (in combo with whey & casein) has been found to prolong muscle building and recovery after exercise. The study was done with college-aged subjects, yet the implications for helping older adults deal with sarcopenia (muscle wasting) are really exciting to me (not because we’re old; because we plan to BECOME old)!
Before you say in all caps, ‘FOLLOW THE MONEY,” we’ll tell you right out that the research was funded by Solae LLC (they develop soy-based ingredients). We didn’t have to follow that hard; it’s listed on the abstract! But, we kept following and found out that Solae has also been recognized for 3 years in a row as a world leader in ethics.
Alexandra: So I’m going to do what I have been doing all along – eat a balanced diet that has all kinds of organic choices, in moderation, which includes soy and soy-based foods. Heck, the Japanese have been eating tofu, bean paste and edamame for centuries and they’re healthier than we who eat a western diet! However, I will NOT be eating natto. That stuff looks, smells and tastes like a science project gone mutant. I tried it at the National Products Expo so you wouldn’t have to! It’s tied with Marmite for nastiest food in the universe as far as I’m concerned.
What about you? Are you more interested in post-exercise muscle building and recovery, or the possibilities for preventing sarcopenia in older age? Me, I’m off to figure out why our dachshund likes to eat empty edamame pods.
Are you on Twitter? There is a Twitter chat about soy protein on Wednesday, May 23, 9 PM EST/ 6 PM PST, hashtag #SoyProtein. Join the chat. Bring your questions. Do your workout first!
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.
Check out how our mom transforms herself from an active senior to frail little old lady back into a force to be reckoned with in less than 1 minute. Learn our quick zip trick to look 10 years younger in less than 10 seconds.
Agents, talent scouts, and publicists – our mom is available for media interviews and bookings. Ya gotta admit she’s pretty cute![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2lSdV6CHjg[/youtube]
Photo credit: Creative Commons
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra: The brain is linked so strongly to what you eat and how much you move that its size, shape and function actually change. As your weight goes up, your brain size goes down. You do NOT want to become a victim of Dinosaur Syndrome – big body, little brain = extinct! Sadly, the brains of obese people look 16 years older in scans than they are. And Dr. Amen showed a picture of a very healthy 82 year-old brain, so age does not guarantee brain deterioration.
Kymberly: However, having a birthday this weekend guarantees age! Only 6 more shopping days until twinnie’s birthday. I hope she gets some new dendrites, ganglia, and neurotransmitters for her big day.
Having read 6 of Dr. Amen’s books, I developed serious brain envy, so for my birthday I plan to work out and eat healthfully. Right after the small piece of chocolate cake. I want to do what it takes to stave off any mental decline and have the heaviest, most active brain possible into my 90s and beyond! My real birthday wish is for you all to have the same!
A: The mind controls the body, not the other way round. It’s your brain that tells you it’s okay to eat a second helping of ice cream, and it’s also your brain that tells you to push away from the table. So here are some tips to help you put your brain consciously in control:
K: So, does your lifestyle enhance your brain power or detract from it? Remember, the choices you make today affect your brain TODAY and into the future. Hey, if my brain is the ultimate controller, why does Alexandra keep saying she’s in charge?
Dear readers: This seems like a perfect moment to direct you to our e-book/quotes that help you stay motivated and on track.
Dino photo: Creative Commons
guest post by Jerry and Ginny
Jerry: Then in December of 2009 I experienced a Hemorraghic stroke. My principal deficit from the stroke was extreme mental and physical exhaustion. My energy level varied drastically during the day making it difficult to be productive. I literally crashed after eating and sometimes could not sustain concentration beyond 20 minutes without stopping to rest.
I wanted to take an active role in my recovery and healing so decided to join Club 14 Fitness, a locally owned gym on Amelia Island. Ginny went along to encourage me. We were assigned a trainer and enjoyed working out together. I really benefited from the structured workouts The exercise helped raise my energy level and spirits making me feel more “normal”. Specifically, the exercise helped my circulation, and the sauna afterward relieves arthritic pain.
After the initial 16 weeks of structured exercise I regained the strength and energy I had lost from the stroke and am now a third of the way toward my weight loss goal.
Ginny: I am so glad I went along to the club with Jerry! I definitely gained weight during his recovery from being home more, being less physically active, being stressed, and eating more. Finally I broke through procrastination and had the opportunity to see the results of working out three times a week.
I have dropped two dress sizes and feel amazing. Both Jerry and I are fitting into clothes we have not worn in over 20 years. We have also altered our diet, limiting starches and adding more veggies. Now the gym is a habit and we no longer allow other priorities to interfere with our health and Jerry’s recovery.
Our Advice: No matter how difficult life gets after an unexpected health problem, find a way to exercise. It is good for the body, mind and spirit of the patient and the caretaker!
Readers: What would it take to motivate you to work out more consistently and purposefully?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams. MA
Alexandra: Wow. Yes. And Sure. Other than that, buckle your seat belt as things may get technical (meaning I’m about to use some very long words). In order to have balance, you rely on information from your body in space and the environment. There are 3 systems that provide this information; I call them See Me, Feel Me, Hear Me:
If any of these 3 systems give data to the Central Nervous System that are pfffffffftttt, your response will be also pffffffffftttt. Bad data in; bad data out. So if you have weakening eyes, inner ear issues or simply need to improve your strength and endurance, you could be out of balance!
Kymberly: Another reason balance becomes tricky with inactivity has to do with stride length (notice how I am distinguishing between the real culprit, “decreasing activity” and the red herring, “amassed years on the planet”). As people accumulate years of insufficient strength or aerobic activity, they start shortening their gait, taking smaller and smaller steps. Think about it. Every step we take involves a moment of balancing on one leg as the other swings through. As people become less confident or capable, they do what it takes to minimize time on one leg, ie taking shorter strides. So their base of support gets narrower and narrower. Much easier to tip a narrow base than a wide one. Thus begins the dizzying downward cycle of worsening balance.
A: I edited an interesting article by Evan Osar, DC a few years ago, and he strongly suggests looking at foot, ankle and hip issues, therefore I strongly suggest you read it! I was thinking to make a nice list of all the exercise tools that have the words “balance” or “stability” in them, but was seized by lethargy and decided to give you access to this lovely brochure by the American College of Sports Medicine instead. Guess what it’s about? Balance Training! After your balance training (which you get to do every day–yes, you heard me correctly!), do your resistance training several days a week; (that’ll do).
K: Add to what’s her A’s advice my blah blah of balance, which is to take walks– they can be slow ones–wherein you exaggerate your stride length. Get back into the habit of a bold, daring, aggressive stride. You’ll get your balance juju back! Walk enough that when Alexandra sings you can neither see her, hear her, nor feel her. Ya’ feel me?
Dear Readers: Are you ever imbalanced or unbalanced? Can you spell somatosensory with your eyes closed?
Photo credits: Creative Commons
Dear Fun & Fit:
Dear Deb (which is kind of, but not really, like “bells” spelled sideways:
We think kettlebells are wonderful. They make such a lovely noise right around the holidays. All that joyful clinging and clanging. Until the whoomp. But, hey, that’s what Santa gets for sneaking around living rooms.
Do you mean you want to exercise with them? Or you want to throw them at your niece? Not very family-friendly we’d say. As a workout, they are great – if done properly. But isn’t that the case with any tool? However, in the case of kettlebells, lots of people watch the YouTube videos with those crazy Russians, but let us point out two things: 1) they are Russian. 2) they are crazy. The Russians invented the kettlebell workout, probably using spare parts they had around the collective (kolkhoz, for those of us who went to university for Russian Studies). Then they took some of the more, erm, ahem, shall we say “extreme” routines and stuck them up for all to view.
But if you don’t want to roll around a grassy knoll tossing a 70-pound kettlebell up into the rainbows (and your spine into little pieces), there are actual SAFE routines you could start with. One caveat for you and anyone else who is thinking of tossing around a heavy, curvilinear cast-iron object (no, not a frying pan), if you want to take a class or session at your local gym, check out the instructor’s credentials and training for kettlebells. We are huge supporters of our fitness colleagues, but we have seen one or two crazy Americans whom we suspect took their training from a Russian YouTube video. Not to name names, but…
You shut your mouth.
Dear Readers and kettlebell flingers: What is your opinion of kettlebells? And does the name make you want a cup of tea?
Photo credits: Photobucket