Dear 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)
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.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
But first let’s cover what NOT to do: imitate the moves you see other people doing out on the gym floor. We have seen some seriously crazy stuff and wacky technique performed by exercisers on their own. Even if the moves you see around you are done safely and make sense for THAT exerciser, they may not be right for YOU.
Let’s also take a moment to wave good-bye to the exercises you may be digging up from school PE class memory. Odds are good those exercises need to be left back there. (No Mr. Hammond, duck walks across the playground do not strengthen the lower body. I don’t care how many 5th graders you quack and bark at).
Why go it alone when trying to figure out which exercises are best for you to increase your strength? IF you want to embark on a weight training program that will:
THEN go with the pros. In a class. Where you reap the benefits of strength moves led by a professional.
Think of group strength training classes as a place to draft off the instructor’s knowledge and skills. You can then take that information and experience and apply it to your solo workouts outside the class environment.
If you have a qualified instructor, you can trust the exercises s/he is demonstrating. You get moves that offer a stamp of approval. Listen for comments from the instructor that tell you the how, why, what, and how much for each exercise. Take mental notes so you have a toolbox to pull from when on your own.
Even the best strength move offers little benefit if it’s not executed well. A class setting with a good teacher offers something no solo workout can — external feedback and correction. Learn what to do in step one; Improve on how with this step.
Why did or didn’t you feel an exercise as expected? How can you adapt a move to your particular condition? What’s another option with the same goal? Most group fitness teachers are happy to give a few minutes of their time and expertise after class.
Especially for beginning weight trainers (like yourself, perhaps?), a class can be a welcoming place with like-minded people. If you’re like many of our past participants, you want to hide when first starting a new program. It’s easier to blend in within a class than to face the intimidation of the machines and rows of free weights outside the classroom doors.
Maybe you’ll enjoy your class and new strength so much you’ll decide to train forever and ever in a group setting. But if not, you now have a community to venture onto the gym floor “armed” and ready!
When you come to Santa Barbara, my sister and I invite you to come to our classes! We promise to load you up with weights and good ideas! Now get out there and resist, resist, resist!
Readers: If you do want to attend one of our classes at Spectrum, email us so we can arrange a guest pass. email@example.com
Your question is an excellent one, and will resonate with many of our readers. You are right about the many benefits of exercise, including for arthritis. According to the Mayo Clinic, arthritis can be slowed or mitigated with exercise – the challenge is finding the right type.
If your doc has cleared you to return to Zumba, you may want to ease in and modify the lateral moves (sideways, such as grapevine). Are you able/ willing to add aqua classes to your workout plan? Zumba aqua dance classes exist. You do not need to be a good swimmer to join an aqua class. Shallow water classes are in water that’s generally hip deep. If your gym has only deep water classes, you can use swim lessons as your workout, then wear the buoyancy belts once you’re a more confident swimmer.
For other cardio options, try anything that is low impact (high intensity is fine, but NOT high impact) and more forward and back than side to side. One caveat – depending on where the arthritis is in your hips, spending a lot of time on a machine such as a stair-stepper could be contraindicated. Besides, you seem to be a person who enjoys group fitness classes, so try a variety of those. A varied exercise plan is more effective than a repetitive one for most people.
You might also consider some stretch and strengthen classes. Stretch to open up the hips and strengthen to give your muscles more of the workload, which eases the load on your skeletal structure (bones). Since you mention a ligament injury to your ankle, I would think strengthening that area might be a priority, especially if compensations are affecting your hips. Have you worked with a physical therapist to strengthen that ankle, while considering the impact on your hips (such as an altered gait)? You can probably even find a therapist who is ALSO a personal trainer by searching at ideafit.com or acefitness.org.
In addition to low-impact cardio and strength training, you may want range of motion exercises too. This article from Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center goes into more detail about everything mentioned above, including the need for tailored, specific range of motion activities.
Rest is an integral part of any exercise regimen, arthritis or no! Check with your doctor about creating the right combo of rest time, anti-inflammatory meds, ice, and possibly even meditation.
We’ve had good luck getting specific advice for our exercise-loving bodies by choosing primary care doctors who also value exercise. We’ve had some doctors who wanted to prescribe medicine for our arthritic knees. Their advice was to stop exercising. We switched to doctors who used medication as a last resort and aligned with our preference to keep moving. We are not advocating dumping your doc or ignoring his advice; we are advocating getting into a partnership with your doctor so that he can work WITH you to create a plan that includes exercise.
This quote is from Mayo: “Lack of exercise actually can make your joints even more painful and stiff. Talk to your doctor about how exercise can fit into your current treatment plan. What types of exercises are best for you depends on your type of arthritis and which joints are involved. Your doctor or a physical therapist can work with you to find the best exercise plan to give you the most benefit with the least aggravation of your joint pain.”
As women who are similar to you – arthritic joints, exercise-loving, youthful minds, mid-50s – we know it’s possible to keep moving. We just have to be pickier than we were 30 years ago. There IS a solution, and your positive attitude will be a big part of it! Please keep us posted. Happy dancing.
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The answer is always yes. It’s also “It depends.”
In the group thread I read lots of good advice for this frustrated woman, with people recommending various diets and types of workouts. Yet if we back away from the question, and ponder the underlying assumption, it’s possible she doesn’t need to make any big changes. If she wants to KEEP the weight off once it’s lost, she might just be right on track with her 1 to 1 1/2 pound weekly loss. I’ll make a leap of faith and assume keeping the weight off after her weight loss program is over is her longer-term goal. Which means losing 1 to 1.5 pounds per week might be best.
A few years ago we were asked whether it was safely possible to lose 10 pounds in 4 weeks, and we essentially said it’s reasonable, sustainable and realistic long-term to lose 1.5 – 2 pounds per week if you combine intense cardio with resistance training and a nutritious diet. Of course, that is hard for menopausal women, and our fitness pro colleague Tamara Grand has some spot-on suggestions and resources for staying the nutrition and fitness course once midlife changes everything!
In this post we wrote about the differences between losing weight and maintaining weight loss, you can see in the chart that to LOSE weight, reduced caloric intake is the easiest way for most people to achieve negative energy balance, while to KEEP it off, physical activity is the strategy to prevent weight regain.
As my sister points out in her post about choosing the “right” diet, it’s far easier for most people to cut out a 500-calorie drink than to exercise strenuously for about an hour.
So our advice to you (and the millions of other people with this same question) is to perhaps focus more on your intake than your output. Once you reach your weight goal, you can switch that around (to a point – the fluffy, puffy, whipped creamy coffee drinks are still an issue). If you want an in-depth explanation about what does and doesn’t work for fat loss, listen to our radio interview with Dr. James Hill, member of the NIH Expert Panel on Obesity, author of “State of Slim,” co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry, and co-founder of America on the Move, a national weight gain prevention initiative.
While I’m at it, I’ll throw in my occasional mantra, “Never give up. Never surrender.” It’s from a movie that cracks me up. [youtube]http://youtu.be/9fdcIwHKd_s[/youtube]
1) We have a giveaway ending in a few hours that you should enter. You could win either a Foot Note shoelace or bracelet motivational fitness charm from Momentum if you have a U.S. address, so head to our fan page right now!
2) As part of a campaign with Blue Diamond I did a twist on the traditional Dolly Bar recipe that incorporates their Toasted Coconut Almonds. Easy recipe. Quick to make. Delicious to eat.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
In short, the variety of exercise modes you are self-selecting is just about spot on for someone with your condition and fitness goals. Pilates and mind-body activities (such as yoga, Tai chi, qigong, and meditation) are particularly good for minimizing fibromyalgia pain. Your moderate intensity walks, hula hooping, and biking will meet your cardio need; the body and free weight workouts will target your muscle strength and endurance; while the stretching and yoga will help your flexibility. You have covered the three key categories for overall fitness with these activities. As long as you include something from each category at least twice a week you are in the effective and safe zone. Sounds like baseball all of a sudden. Yooooouuuuu’re SAFE!
Alexandra: I would suggest some other core exercise instead of the crunches. Since you want to be more fit (you didn’t mention wanting a certain “look” to the abs), you will gain more strength with other choices. For example, I refer you to two no-crunch posts we did (with video) that won’t put strain on your neck or head: No Head or Neck Strain I and No Head or Neck Strain II. Click on both these videos and the links we added for more on the relationship between fibromyalgia, pain reduction, and exercise.
You are smart to take on low to moderate intensity, as the Mayo Clinic has found that “short bouts of physical activity throughout the day may prove beneficial for fibromyalgia sufferers.” So when you are planning your workouts, you might consider sprinkling them throughout the day rather than doing everything at once. I wonder if knitting after some of your harder workouts would be a clever way to minimize any muscle/ ligament/ tendon pain simply by virtue of distracting you? That would be an interesting study, especially as research has already proven that people report lower levels of pain when their minds are elsewhere (I know I fantasized about killing my husband when I was in labor, heh heh heh).
Kymberly: Fibromyalgia exercisers do well to achieve an intensity level where they are short of breath while still able to speak in short phrases. As for whether you should alternate between the types of workouts you mention, we say “absolutely!” If you are someone who likes variety, then you have the right mix for you. If you try a new activity such as hula hooping (is that even a verb? OK, let’s make it so) and you start to feel pain or fatigue related to your fibromyalgia, check with your medical pro, take a break from that mode, and go back to what did work for you. Your idea to attend classes is also particularly good as a limited study on the effects of Pilates on fibromyalgia suggested that exercise participants might adhere to their program under instructor supervision better than those working out at home. Group classes rule!
Lastly, our all time favorite advice when it comes to what kind of exercise is best–whether directed to someone with fibromyalgia or not–is to do the types of workouts you will actually do. The more kinds you like, the better!
Pedestrian and Garden Path Photos courtesy of MorgueFile.com.
Other photos courtesy of Kymberly
A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.
The organizers of the conference wrote an excellent post about the “5 Reasons Why You Should Attend FitSocial,” and we hope you’ll read it. In a nutshell, the advantages are:
* Science-based fitness & health content
* Expert social media content
* Network opportunities
* Movement classes
This will be our second year attending (and presenting), and we are looking forward to it for the reasons above, plus a few more.
* It’s fairly small, which means we get to interact a LOT with the expert speakers, the sponsors and the other attendees. Fitness pros will especially love the chance to interact closely with representatives from the Anschutz Health & Wellness Center, America On the Move, American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), American Council on Exercise (ACE), LiveWell Colorado, National Association for Health and Fitness, WEGO Health (Truvio), and YogaFit, as well as the world-renowned speakers.
* Uh, it’s in Boulder and Denver at one of the best times of year – September. “Nuff said there!
* We get access to a state-of-the-art fitness center. Heck, even the locker rooms are amazing.
* Quality time to hang out with friends, new and old. It’s not possible to overstate how amazingly FUN it is to spend a long weekend with people who are all interested in a fit and healthy lifestyle. It’s like a giant sleepover, but with fitness clothes instead of jammies!
* You will come home with enough RESEARCHED information for loads of blog (or vlog) posts. Doesn’t that make your job easier?
So now you have 10 good reasons to attend. As a bonus, we’ll add that you can learn about making money via social media at our talk “Building Your Brand and Monetizing Your Fitness Expertise.” Whether you’ve been using social media for years or are just beginning, you want to know some tips for making money from it, right? As a starter (main course at the convention), you will want to read our post, “4 Things You Need to Earn Money via Social Media.”
You do NOT have to be a current blogger. You do NOT have to be a certified fitness pro. You do NOT have to understand the ins and outs of social media. You CAN be a beginner – at social media or fitness. You CAN be a fitness pro who wants an intimate, education-rich conference. You CAN be a fitness enthusiast who wants to know and share accurate information. For example, last year we got some great information about the differences between weight loss and weight management.
Yup, besides hearing representatives from these two organizations speak, certified pros will be able to obtain continuing education credits at the conference. Score!
We encourage you to join us. Get yourself all registered up, and start counting the days till FitSocial begins!
Score even further when you hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference, or to write your blog posts. Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email email@example.com.
No matter what you’re doing in September, it’s always time to subscribe to our fitness-related YouTube channel. 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.
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.
Need professional, motivating speakers? Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Alexandra: If you’ve ever wondered where top group fitness teachers go to work out, the answer is, “we go to the very tippy top; to the world-class instructors.” Yes, you could call us workout snobs. Or you could say we’re very discerning. But when we take a class we want to be sure it’s from instructors who know their stuff.
Kymberly: And if you’ve wondered where you might win free membership to a new video home workout website, the answer is RIGHT HERE courtesy of FitnessGlo.com. Enter the giveaway below after you read this post. But first, be one of the first to find out about FitnessGlo.com, where you’ll find a plethora of home workouts you can tailor to your tastes, schedule, and goals. Yes, it’s mix and match time. Plus I wanted to say “plethora” as it’s a cool word.
Alexandra: When FitFluential invited us to be part of a sponsored campaign to showcase FitnessGlo, I did air jacks and push-ups of joy because I love, love, love, love the quality of the workouts, led by international star and Presenter of the Year Petra Kolber.
Just like fitness enthusiasts who want a good home workout, so do fitness professionals. And we like the added bonus of having access to choreography we can use in our own classes.
Alexandra: For me, it’s very important that I trust the instructor’s knowledge. I get so frustrated by celebrities who offer workouts, yet don’t actually have any credentials; they just have fame. Fame doesn’t keep my boomer joints safe. When I went to the FitnessGlo site, the first thing I did was go to the About: Team page to check out the instructors’ qualifications.
You should click the link; they have impressive resumés. The second thing I did was go to the Style tab and choose a workout. I’m partial to step, and I always need new ideas, so I started there. Then it was on to the tube workout and disco dance class.
Kymberly: What I liked about the site is the easy navigation and variety of options. You can choose your workout by level, workout type, teacher, or how long you want to exercise. Like my sis, I gravitate to step. Combine that with a dancey style and I am ready to sweat and go … or in this case “Glo.” So for my initial foray into the site, I chose Latin Step with Petra. I was revved up after that so kept going with an easy to follow, Level 1 low impact cardio workout also with Petra and also Latin flavored. Cual sabor! On my next visit I had only 15 minutes open so chose my workout by duration. FitnessGlo is all about finding balance so I selected an abs class rated level 3 that lasted 10 minutes. Ten challenging minutes. That level 2 is looking tempting for my next strength or core workout.
Alexandra: Since I teach so much, I rarely attend a class, especially as it’s a 20 minute drive to the nearest club. But now my kids are getting used to seeing me working out in front of my computer monitor. And when I hear the oven timer ding, I can hit pause, go check on dinner, then return to my workout. Or I can just choose one of the shorter workouts (they range from 5 – 45 minutes long). Which would you rather do, spend 20 minutes driving in traffic or use those same minutes to get fabulously buff and toned? Exactly.
Kymberly: I’d rather spend 20 minutes eating whatever Alexandra was cooking for dinner. As for those of you who want quality home workouts with heaps and gobs of choices, then revel in this good news: you can access a free 15 day trial membership right now over at FitnessGlo.com. And by entering our raffle below you might be the lucky winner of a 90 day membership. Think how fit you could get in 3 months!
For an effective, fun workout source, led by the people the pros go to, that’s time-efficient, with a variety of strength and cardio choices, we are totally supportive of FitnessGlo. If you want a run-on sentence, it’s just above. If you want to win, you have to enter. Now Glo!
So easy to enter to win a 90-day membership to ALL the workouts at FitnessGlo. And all new members get a free 15-day trial, so even if you don’t win the 90-day membership, you’re still a winner!
Know someone wanting to hire professional, motivating speakers to edu-tain audiences at your next event? Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email email@example.com.
Glo over 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 also follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.
The obliques come in two flavors: external and internal. We have a nifty graphic and a video demo of oblique crunches (no ball needed, and do NOT read that in a pervy way) in our previous post “Wrong and Right Way to do Oblique Ab Crunches.”
The external obliques run diagonally, forming a V in front. Imagine you’re putting your hands into a vest or front coat pocket. The internal obliques run at right angles to your external obliques and form an inverted V. Put your hands on your hips with your thumbs in front and fingers behind, pointing down as if putting your hands into back pockets.
Grab your mat or towel (or marginally clean area of your rug) and stability ball, and follow along with us in this video that demonstrates the right and wrong way to trim the waste from your waist![youtube]http://youtu.be/dpB3vA57zaw[/youtube]
What is your favorite exercise for the obliques? Trainers & instructors, feel free to add a link to your posts on this topic.
Side-to-Sidle on over to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on google++Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.
Photo credit: Hey Paul Studios (blue & red corset)