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!
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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?
I brought along my 15 year old son. By definition, he does not drive. I hate driving. But I do like traveling. And saving money on airfare. My solution: make lots of stops to get out of the car and take photos with my new iPhone. Yup, oddly enough, having Instagram (an app that lets you take photos and send them out via social media immediately) motivated me to get out of the car and move.
Any time we spotted a viewpoint or something interesting along the road (yeah, Hwys. 15 and 70 are both major interstates with shoulders just wide enough for me to pull over and not get “whoomped” by the draft of 18-wheelers passing by), I’d
careen carefully pull over to the side of the freeway, get out and take some pics. I even took my poor, long-suffering kid on a few short hikes, trying to get the “best” shot. FYI, I am not actually a photographer, I was just determined to get my kid moving.
There has been so much research lately about the detrimental effects of sitting too long that I wanted to be sure and move, both while on the road and at the conference.
I also wanted to be sure and eat healthfully, as good eating habits sometimes get tossed out the window (along with fast-food trash) during road trips.
See for yourself whether I met my movement and food goals.
If you read our post “Lose 2 Pounds in 2 Days,” or our other conference-related post “3 Excuses You Can Use When Mountain Hiking,” then you already know that we went to the conference to speak about blogging and learn about the latest research in the health & fitness field. The attendees were a combination of fitness industry pros and enthusiasts; what we all had in common was our love of fitness and social media. And food. Um, yeah! Food!
This is the section where I tell you about the amazing brands that sponsored the conference (and my fabulous fashion choices). I say “amazing” because they treated us extremely well. Not just well; extremely well.
Anschutz Health & Wellness Center
Cherry Marketing Institute
Love Grown Granola
Western Dairy Association
Quebec Maple Syrup
Better Whey of Life
Black Jacket: Qignition
Presentation pink outfit: Aventura Clothing
Orange backpack/ purse: Overland Equipment
Totally comfy wicking socks for the hikes: Goodhew
Hat that protected me from the sun and sweat: Headsweats
Fabulously awesome, fit body: My parents (no link haha, although you can see our mom in this posture video)
Disclaimer: Thank you to Refuel with Chocolate Milk for providing us with a scholarship for the conference registration, and to FitFluential for making it possible for us to be panel speakers and moderators. All opinions, silly faces and poorly lit pictures are my own!
This is a guest post from our friend Kodjo Hounnake. We know you’ll enjoy it.
When it comes to strength training, most people typically go for free weights and machines. But if you work out at home, you probably know how expensive free weights are; let alone full-blown workout machines. So if you get most of your workout done at home, one piece of equipment you may want to get is the resistance tube.
Resistance tubes are long rubber bands with handles on them, and are used to perform strength training exercise routines. The resistance depends on its elasticity. This means that the thicker the tube, the higher its resistance. Keep that in mind when choosing one. You certainly don’t want it to be too elastic or not elastic enough. In other words, find your sweet spot.
The different uses of the resistance tube are only limited by your creativity. For example, you can step on the tube and use its resistance to perform biceps curls and lateral raises. Also, make sure your resistance tube comes with a door attachment, as it helps hook the tube to a door or window. This further increases the breadth of exercises you can perform. For instance, when attached to a door, the resistance tube can be used to perform triceps extensions, chest fly, rows, etc.
Unlike dumbbells that have a set weight, the great thing about resistance tubes is that you can increase or decrease your level of difficulty by modifying your position. Specifically, if you attach the band to a door, the farther you move away from the door, the higher the intensity of each pull. The closer you are to the door, the easier your workout.
There are many reasons everyone should own a resistance tube:
Resistance tubes are travel-friendly: If you travel often, it is very easy to skip a workout, especially if your travel location doesn’t have a gym in close proximity. In this case, the resistance tube can come to your rescue, as it is very easy to pack, and can be used in your hotel room or strapped around a tree.
Resistance tubes are cheap: There isn’t a lot of exercise equipment out there that is both versatile and affordable. The resistance tube is one of them. You can pick one up for less than $20, so it’s great for the budget-conscious exerciser (i.e. most of us)!
Resistance tubes add variety: With regular free weights, you are limited by the number of exercises you can perform, whereas a resistance tube allows you to modify your positioning in so many different ways, that there are endless possibilities for complexity and difficulty.
Resistance tubes are not just for the pros: Because you can control the elasticity of the tubes, they can be used by beginners and pros alike. To add intensity to your workout, step away from the attachment point. (for example, if you’re doing a chest press with the tube in the door behind you, the attachment point is where the tube is held by the door). To reduce the intensity, move closer to the center of the tube.
In the routine below, you’ll see the resistance tube being used to perform some triceps, shoulders and chest exercises
About the author: Kodjo Hounnake is a fitness enthusiast turned health blogger. When he is not tweeting or blogging about home workout sand healthy eating, he is likely eating healthfully and working out at home. His wish is to contribute as much as possible to the fight against obesity in America. He recently developed a four-week home workout program to help people exercise in the comfort of their home. Kodjo has more than a hundred thousand loyal Twitter Followers at Kodjoworkout.
Dear Readers: We encourage you to subscribe to and follow Kodjo, as he’s a very sociable person.
For those of you who are new to tubes or have shoulder issues, we recommend you hold your arms lower than shoulder height for the chest press, with the tube coming under the arms rather than over.
By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: Losing 10 pounds in 4 weeks is a big goal, but doable … if you are willing to either work hard and change your eating habits ooorrrr….. take some drastic measures. Let’s check out those drastic measures first, since they are easier. First, cut off as much of your hair as possible. Next, go nekkid (since most people wear clothes when assessing weight usually via a scale). Lastly, embark on some crazy diet. So that about wraps up the bad and popular advice that meets the goal. (Readers – don’t say you never thought of these approaches! We hear of them all the time!)
Alexandra: 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. So it will be hard to lose 10 pounds in such a short time. I think you’ll be happier, more motivated, and more successful if you focus on improving your eating and exercise. The weight will drop off more naturally that way.
Eating: Choose foods that are close to the ground. By this I don’t mean, “Oh, I dropped my bag of chips”; I mean the fewer ingredients the better. Even if you eat the same amount in weight/ volume, the healthier foods will tend to have fewer calories. So, enjoy a bowl of strawberries rather than strawberry jam on toast. Move most of your food intake toward the first part of the day. And eat breakfast! (Read all about it!)
Exercise: You can do low intensity movement (below 60% of your maximum Heart Rate, which means about 3-5 on a scale of 1-10) , moderate intensity (60-80% of max HR; 6-8 on 10-scale), or high intensity (80-90% of max HR: 9 on 10-scale). Most people feel comfortable doing low and moderate intensity, yet decidedly uncomfortable at high intensity. It’s a time-saving choice if your joints and current level of physical ability allow you to try high intensity once or twice a week.
Kymberly: Lovette, we made this video just for you (and anyone else we can corral) about the difference between low, moderate, and high intensity cardio levels. Feel free to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Really. Now.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daIX0pFSqVM[/youtube]
Alexandra: One little side note (as opposed to “snide,” which I would never use with anyone unless it’s my sister) is to differentiate between high intensity and high impact. Many high intensity moves are also high impact (i.e., jacks, burpees, running), but if you’re like me (one reconstructed soccer knee and two big-headed kids pushed out that tiny birth canal), you don’t like high impact. So you can always do high intensity in the pool, on the elliptical or even on the step or large stability ball!
Go forth. Move and Lose. Eat. Rinse. Repeat.
Kymberly: As for your question as to whether you need to work out more than twice a week to drop this weight in this time frame. HAYUL YES! Skip the part about 2 hours per session, but you need to get busy at least 5 days a week. Include both strength training and aerobic workouts.
Readers: Who has successfully lost and kept off 10 pounds? How? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?
Photo Credit: Creative Commons: Mike Schmid