Kymberly: Dana, I’ll meet your question and raise you one. What do you want to do with the information you get from a fitness test? For instance, you could ask “how do I know if I am fit enough to keep these hossies of mine in good condition and still have energy to plow the fields, till the land, and ride off into the sunset?” Then your fitness level is defined by your ability to function and continue doing the activities you love. This kind of fitness is called “functional” or “real life fitness.” Well, I call it “real life fitness” anyway and I think my sis will back me up on any terms I make up.
For determining your functional fitness level, you have an easy job. Can you perform your ranch work and other daily activities with relative ease, comfort and range of motion without getting exhausted or injured at the end of the day? And can you keep doing that until you or your horses head out to pasture? Easy, shmeasy to measure, so I hope you go for that definition of fitness.
Your question might also be coming from the perspective of “how do I measure percent of body fat, lean muscle mass, flexibility, and endurance without actually taking those tests, which are the standards for defining and measuring fitness?” That question is a horse of a different color entirely. Oh, two points to me for getting that in! I have to cut to Alexandra for a moment while I contain (or applaud) myself.
Alexandra: I have to say that Kymberly is not containing herself at all; she is just horsing around! Oh, neigh it ain’t so! For all those measurement tests Kymberly mentions, one option is to hire a qualified personal trainer. Since you are a horse rancher, not a gym rat, get the trainer to come to you. You can find one in your area at ACE Fitness: Find a Trainer. But…since you say you want to test yourself, go in your closet and try on all the stuff you haven’t worn in a year. If it fits, you know you are the same size. Granted, this does not directly say you are fit; just that you are not gaining weight. However, midlife weight gain can lead to lowered fitness levels, so there is some correlation.
To get a better sense of whether you are retaining your strength as you actively age, count how many push-ups you can do with good form. Make a record. Count your push-ups again in 3 months. Compare the numbers. Burst out in tears of joy. Same with lunges or squats. Gotta say, in all my years, it’s rare to see someone perform a lunge, squat or push-up with good form right out the gate (oooh, another horse reference). So we are back to that personal trainer idea.
Kymberly: Also perform these three tests, which are quick, easy, and doable at home. You will then have a good sense of your balance, flexibility, and lower body strength.
Also consider tacking on some wearable technology that tracks your heart rate, pulse, activity levels, and more. For an idea of the range of possibilities, read our post, Can Your WearableTech Do All This? You can find fitness tracking devices that range from $12 (Check out the Pivotal Living band, which also tracks your hydration levels) to a hundred dollars and more. (Take a peek at the Peak from Basis). Do you want to know your sleep habits? Number of calories burned? Steps per day? Whether your right and left muscles are balanced? What your resting heart rate is? You have so many options these days for assessing your fitness level, that others will marvel at your horse sense.
Alexandra: Since you need at least one good chuckle from this blog, I’d say ask your husband to check you out first thing in the morning before you get dressed. If he says you look hot and exactly like you did at 30, you might be fit. And he gets points for dodging that set-up. If he says you don’t look quite the same, throw a horse at him. If you can do this, you are fit enough!
Readers: Who else wonders whether you are “fit enough?” Fit for what? Do tell. We wonder if you are fit enough to subscribe to our blog in under 10 seconds. Ready? Subscribe. Go!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Our friend and colleague, Debbie is a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, fitness club director, running coach, and repeat dog rescuer, who blogs over at Coach Debbie Runs. She isn’t quite as tough as this post makes her sound. She has been working with a mature population for many years and understands how to lure exercise haters into a healthier lifestyle. She hopes you will check out her blog for inspiration, training programs, and tips on living a plant based, active lifestyle.
By Debbie Woodruff
I didn’t become a personal trainer for the huge amount of money I could make. Nor for the glory and fame that I could achieve. Nope, I became a personal trainer because I believe in health and fitness. Our lives are much better when we exercise.
Which is good because there hasn’t been a much fame, glory, or money involved. But I do know I’ve made a difference in a few lives, so that’s a pretty good trade-off.
However, I have grown pretty tired of hearing one comment, not just from clients, but from non-exercisers in general. Various people who come to the gym, friends of clients, even other bloggers will walk in, look disdainfully around at the equipment, the members sweating, the trainers training, and say, “I hate to exercise.”
As a trainer, I used to consider this a challenge. I envisioned working with these people, creating a program for them, finding something that they do enjoy, and they would become lifelong exercisers. Happy ending! Barring that, I could at least make them like me enough to enjoy the time we spent together training.
The problem with the former plan is that it rarely happens. Exercise haters stick to a program for a while, whine and complain a lot, begin to find excuses, then disappear from the face of the gym forever. Or at least until it is time for next year’s new year’s resolutions.
The latter solution isn’t perfect either. A large segment of the population can’t or won’t hire a personal trainer, so I’m missing a large part of the target audience. While I do have a few clients who train with me because they enjoy my company, they would rather chat than work out. And they are terrible at adhering to the other parts of an exercise program normally done on one’s own, like cardio, proper nutrition, and lifestyle changes.
I’m tired of sugarcoating exercise, of trying to make everyone happy, of spending my valuable time convincing exercise haters to enjoy doing something that will make them live longer, feel better, play stronger, and generally have a better life. So, to that end my new mantra is…
Whoever said that everything that you do in life had to be fun? We, all of us, do many things daily that we don’t really enjoy. Do you like brushing your teeth? Cleaning the litter box? Washing the dishes? Vacuuming? Do you do it? Yes, because not to do it would leave you in a very dirty place.
Even if you enjoy your job, you don’t always like it. But you do it because, you know, you need to eat. You clean your house, mow your lawn, help your kid with homework you may not understand yourself. Fun? Not really.
You do all of these things because you have to, need to, are compelled to, whatever. For the most part, you don’t do them because you like them. You may even hate them.
If you spend a half hour three days a week weight training, or some other form of strength building exercise, and take a little time for a walk most days of the week, you can receive benefits way beyond having a clean litter box. You can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. You can reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. You can reduce the pain of many joint diseases, improve your posture and balance, and general overall health. You will feel better. You will look better.
All of this for only two or three hours a week. Many people spend that much time a night watching television.
So suck it up, buttercup. Just get out there and exercise. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. You need it. It’s important. There are many resources available if you are new to exercise and need a little help getting started. You can contact me if you have question, either in the comments below, here on Kymberly and Alexandra’s Fun and Fit blog. Or run over to my contact page.
Who knows. You might even begin to like working out. A little.
Readers: Is there an exercise mode you HATE? Which do you love (or at least tolerate?) We hope Debbie’s post has inspired you to get moving. You can start by subscribing to our site or by checking out Debbie’s. Toodle oo for now!
First of all Wendy, if you just did a half marathon, you are probably more fit than most of the young people I teach at the university. Congratulations on your achievement.
Let’s help you point by point:
Downward Slope, Effort & Staying Fit: I’ll focus on muscle loss, as you don’t mention a strength training component to your workout. Sarcopenia is the progressive decline in skeletal muscle mass that may lead to decreased strength and functionality. When people talk about the race against time, they are usually talking about sarcopenia.
I wrote an article for The Journal on Active Aging about ways to deal with this that might interest you. Summarized in two words – Resistance Training. If you add some resistance training to your regimen, you’ll be amazed at the results. A 70-year-old who does some form of strength/ resistance training can be more fit than a 20-year-old who doesn’t. Isn’t THAT good news?
I’ll start you with our YouTube playlists, “Healthy Aging Exercises for Women Over 45” and “Women Over 50.”
You’ll also want to check out two of our TransformAging webinar colleagues’ websites – Tamara Grand and Debra Atkinson.
Effortless Walking: Since it sounds like your stamina and heart are chugging along, future effortless walking can be assisted by – you guessed it – resistance training, and balance work to prevent falls. Cody and Dan (our other co-presenters) specialize in this area, so here’s a link to some of their posts on balance.
Sciatica: Most research studies have shown stretching, yoga and low intensity movement (that doesn’t involve twisting) to be most effective in controlling the symptoms. For this we recommend you look locally for instructors who specialize in yoga or Pilates. You’ll want to ask about their certifications, speciality training (for both older adults and back care), and experience. Don’t be shy about asking for references. If you search for exercises online, check the source. For example, we trust the info on this link from the National Institutes of Health.
Final suggestion for now – strengthen your core so your back takes less of the load. We’ll get you started with our post “Abs and Core Exercises That Are Safe for the Lower Back.”
Of course, you can always come to Santa Barbara and join us in one of our classes for older adults. We’ll take good care of you!
by Alexandra Williams, MA
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
At 55 years old, I have had 7 plus years of experience with the “change.” Women can begin having hormone changes from the early 40’s into the 50’s with numerous symptoms from irritability to night sweats to hot flashes to depression to anger to hair growth – just to name a few! I KNOW – aren’t you all looking forward to this if you are not there yet?
As much as all of the above symptoms are a pain in the arse, I think the one part of changing hormones that drives women crazy the most is the dreaded weight gain! We are minding our own business and living a healthy life when all of a sudden our bodies decide to fight us!
I started perimenopause in my late 40’s. It was not too bad then. Once I hit 50, well, all hell broke loose! I could do a whole other post on symptoms beyond weight gain, which come and go and come and go and come and go for years. For this guest post, I am going to focus on weight gain and what we can do to manage and reverse it.
For me, I was already doing all of the above. I was weight training with intensity. I was doing cardio sessions with intensity. I was already eating very cleanly – lean protein, healthy fats, the carbs that the experts were saying to eat to manage the weight. It was frustrating to know I was already doing everything I was supposed to do and still gaining weight, so I had to find a way to make it work for me.
I was already a person in tune with my body. I like to say I “listen” to what my body tells me in terms of how exercise and food affect it. I make sure to notice how my body changes when I eat certain foods. Learn to get more in tune with your body rather than going through the motions.
I started to SLOWLY change some of the foods as well as the ratio of protein to carbs to fats. I reduced the calorie intake – SLOWLY – I would say every 6 months or so starting at age 50. Sometimes the changes were less than every 6 months and there were times it was more than every 6 months. This is where that “LISTEN TO YOUR BODY” comes into play – so important!
There were times when absolutely nothing I did mattered & the body just refused to change. PATIENCE is your friend! Don’t give up and work through this!
Also, pay attention to how your body looks and how your clothes fit. The scale, if you do weigh yourself, may not move but your clothes may fit tighter. The weight on your body starts to shift to different places during perimenopause to menopause so be aware of this otherwise the scale and/or your clothes are going to provide a rude awakening one day! 😉
You are going to have to decide what is most important to you in terms of how hard you are willing to work to maintain your pre-perimenopause/menopause body. From experience, I can tell you it is very very hard to keep the weight down and the same body appearance as we age. Only you can decide how hard you are willing to work to keep the weight in a range that is comfortable for you.
I know this all sounds depressing and you want to say, “screw it all”! This is life for women. Some have it worse than others but we all will go through it. All you can do is accept it for what it is and decide what you are willing to do, how hard you are willing to work and honestly, how important it is for you to stay at your pre “change of life” weight. It is hard to stay there so it is not a bad thing if you decide that 5 pounds’ extra is OK. Everything in life is relative to what works for you long term
I have found a couple wonderful sources of information I would like to share with you.
Ellen Dolgen at http://www.shmirshky.com/ is an expert in this field. Her website has resources to help you through this along with a directory of doctors specific to “the change”. She has also written books that will make you laugh out loud while still giving you the information you need to manage this time in your life.
If you are looking for sleepwear to help you through the night sweats & hot flashes, check out Dry Babe at http://www.drybabe.com/.
I am open to questions if any of you want to email directly at email@example.com. I could have written another 5 pages on “my life during perimenopause & menopause” but I am sure this has gone on way too long already!
Bio: For those who don’t know me, my name is Jody Goldenfield & I blog at Truth2BeingFit, http://www.truth2beingfit.com. I am 55 years old and have been working out for over 30 years. I love to weight train but I also do my cardio! I admit to having done many things wrong when I was younger but I learned from those mistakes. My motto is “always learning” and “always a work in progress.” I plan to continue to challenge myself each and every day no matter what age. Age is just a number!
Thank you to Kymberly & Alexandra for allowing me to guest post here today!
We hope and suggest that you check out Jody’s blog. You’ll start each week out positively with her “Gratitude Monday.” You’ll end your week pumped up by a woman whose enthusiasm for resistance training will motivate you. Hop over now!
Take no more pauses. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.
Did we mention no equipment is necessary, except for gravity? For all their benefits, lunges are only effective if done with good form and technique. For whatever reasons, they are hard for most people to execute properly. After 30 years of teaching lunges, we thought we’d share some of the wrong and right ways to get a leg up on your lunges!
Most common errors:
* front knee too far forward
* back knee too close to the ground
* back foot diagonal, putting it out of alignment
* upper body leaning forward
* feet too close together
* leading with toes (for moving lunges)
* knee, hip, toes and heel square to front (if there is knee torque, use the knee as the gauge)
* feet hip distance apart
* front knee directly above the ankle
* back knee at a 90 degree angle, several inches off the floor
* upper body lined up – head over heart over hips
* leading with heel (for moving lunges)
Don’t lurk. Don’t lurch. Lunge! While you’re at it, according to the American Council on Exercise, an excellent weight loss combination is lunges and walking uphill. Say, did we ever show you our video about uphill walking?
Which do you prefer, lunges or squats? Or lurches?
Lower your fingers over the keyboard, then lunge forward to hit “subscribe” on our YouTube channel and blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar.
First things first: A Lat Pulldown works the lats, aka latissimi dorsi (Latin for “broad back”). These are large muscles of the thoracic and lumbar areas of the back, and together are shaped like an upside-down triangle. Their job is to move the arm, draw the shoulders back and down, and help pull the body up when climbing. A resistance tube is a hollow, long “rubber band” with handles on each end.
In our many years of teaching, we have found the Lat PullDown to be a great exercise, although it can be challenging to perform with good form. So, henceforth, forsooth, and forthwith, we hereby present a video that shows some of the right and wrongs ways to do this exercise. “Lat” the fun begin! You’re welcome for the pun.
The good news for those of us who are women
already in toward the second half, is that it gives a lift to good ol’ Betty and Veronica, because as the back strengthens, posture improves and the chest lifts up. And if you don’t get the Betty and Veronica reference, you’re too young to care about this benefit anyway!
We “dorsi” you should subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar.
Do you want to wear the same cute compression socks that Alexandra is sporting in the video? Easy, just go to the Zensah website.
Kymberly: Wonder what’s “eccentric” (besides Alexandra and her “magical” inner thighs? – Watch the video to know what I’m referring to)? The phase when you lengthen a muscle under tension. In this case, when you lower the free weights you are in the eccentric phase as the biceps are still the primary mover decelerating against gravity as the weights pull down. I plan to enter the eccentric phase altogether when I’m older and really live it up!
As for the right way to do biceps curls: Hold all joints stable and still except the elbow joint. And by all joints, that includes your spine!
For those of you hate push-ups, why? Because someone said you had to do long lever (toe) or not at all? Because they’re hard? Because (for you women) you were told you’d look too “manly” in the chest?
If you do them correctly, they are fun, fun, fun! Believe it!
Correct form means:
So, are you a push-up hater or lover? For more on short vs long lever (knee vs toe) push-ups, take a look at our post with a dedicated video, Push-Ups: Knees to Toes
Clickety click on these links. Lower yourself into a push-up, then use your nose to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Or our blog. Follow us on Twitter: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. You can also find us via the icons to your right —–>
As some of you may know, I had surgery on my foot last week. At my post-op visit, the doc used the word “horrific” to describe my big toe joint (bone spurs, zero cartilage, bone-on-bone) when he got in there during the surgery. When the doctor uses that kind of adjective, you kind of quickly figure out you won’t be going back to your normal routine (teaching group fitness, walking in regular shoes) early. He said it takes six full weeks for the bones to fully fuse together, and that if I put any weight at all on my big toe, the screws could snap. Ick!
I am not happy, nor am I depressed, about being out of commission for at least six weeks. It’s more like acceptance and now let’s move on to what I can do. My one request to the doc was to make it so I could still teach again. I don’t want to be limited when I’m only halfway through my life. So I’m trusting that I’ll teach by the time the Fall quarter starts at the U. Until then, I am focusing on doing as much as I safely can, especially workouts.
With that in mind, I went into the back room and pulled out my (very dusty) plates and bar. Got my cool mat that Goodness Knows Snacks gave me at the Fitness Health Bloggers conference too! This is a partial list of some of the exercises I’ve been doing. If you like them, I hope you’ll give them a try.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxoPLH8-I_U[/youtube]
Seated Bicep Curls
Supine Skull Crushers
Table-top Heel Taps
Supine Leg Raises
Did you read that very short list and start thinking, “Wow, that’s it?! There are hundreds of exercises you could do”? I hope so, because that’s exactly what I figured out. I am limited by my foot, not by my imagination, determination or any of the other 229 joints (the number varies, depending on which joints you count) in my body. And a shout out to my new Twitter friend @ittuderevolution for sharing some of her favorite exercise suggestions.
When you can’t have something is when you really want it (remember your high school crushes?), so I hope that anyone and everyone who reads this and doesn’t want to work out takes a few seconds to think, “Hmm, I should do this today because I can. Tomorrow I might be wearing one of those ugly black booties.”
It’s not “All or Nothing.” It’s “All or Something or Nothing.” I’m limited, but not incapacitated. And I still have my sense of humor! Here’s to me! Now, I think I’ll go see about getting some toenail polish!
Have you ever been limited by your body? How did you respond?