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9

How to Increase Metabolism: Stretching? Cardio? Strength Training?

Alexandra, Dr Hill, stretching, piggy back, how to increase metabolism

Alexandra demos how to stretch while boosting metabolism (not hers, his!)

Dear K and A: How to increase metabolism? How?! I’ve been told that stretching after a workout of strength training boosts your metabolic rate. If that’s true, how long should I stretch to get the good stuff going? In all the years I’ve been going to the gym, I’ve never seen anyone stretch after lifting.  Mary, Holland, MI

Can stretching increase metabolism

Stretch Your Muscles For the Good Stuff

Alexandra: Ah, Mary Mary Mary, you have inadvertently asked several questions!

  1. How to speed up your metabolism, especially for women over 50.
  2. What’s the relationship between stretching and strength training?
  3. Is stretching post workout the best way to increase metabolic rate?

Let’s tackle these questions separately.

Stretching is excellent post-workout (not pre-workout) as it:

  • increases range of motion about a joint or group of joints
  • may elicit positive long-term performance outcomes
  • enhances flexibility (intrinsic property of muscles and joints to go through full or optimal range of motion
  • is an effective intervention for prevention of falls
  • assists in more effective performance of daily living activities

Sources: Thacker et al. 2004; Safran et al. 1988; Woods, Bishop & Jones 2007; Kerrigan et al. 2001; and Misner et al. 1992.

What's the relationship between stretching and strength training? Click To Tweet

That is my diplomatic way of saying that stretching after your workout makes you healthy, wealthy and wise, but doesn’t have a link to an increased metabolic rate. So how to increase metabolism? Not via stretching. You speed up your metabolic rate by following the suggestions in this post: How Can I Speed Up My Metabolism?

How can you speed up your metabolism, especially if you're a woman over 50? Click To Tweet

I am going to make a wild leap into the Abyss of Assumption here, and say you are looking to burn calories at a higher rate for a longer time? If so, read How Do I Lose Weight but not Bulk Up . It will show how smart you are for doing strength training!

Leap for health and metabolic boost

Leaping Across the Abyss of Assumptions

Kymberly: More good news about boosting your metabolic rate with exercise:  Women who do 40 minutes of cardio exercise at 80 percent of maximum heart rate (fairly intense but not exceedingly so) increase their caloric expenditure for the next 19 hours.  So both weight training AND cardio workouts metabolically zoom you up afterward. Sort of the caffeine of the workout world, eh? Whoa doggies, that’s pretty exciting stuff!

Alexandra: Is it possible you heard the water-cooler discussions about high-intensity interval training, increased metabolic rate and stretching? If so, that is referring to the recovery or “corrective” stretching that comes between short, intense bursts of cardio activity. But that’s not strength training, and the metabolic effect is from the cardio bursts.

Alexandra planking at Lizard's Mouth

Alexandra reaches across another Abyss

Kymberly: As to why people do not stretch after weight training, we can only surmise that it’s lack of education sometimes disguised in their minds as lack of time. Saying they’re “flexibility losers” is just not in us. We can say we found nada, zip, bupkus about stretching helping metabolic rate. (Actually I can say Alexandra found nothing as she did all the research work this time around. Go twin sissie! I was busy watching soccer on tv. And the players did stretch afterwards. Go soccer!) We do advocate relengthening muscles shortened in training. And we’ve covered how to increase metabolic rate post workout. That’s a wrap here at F and F!

Alexandra: I think I’ll just get bossy and tell you to keep stretching cuz it’s good for ya, and keep at the strength training for the same reason.

Kymberly: Lastly, check out our post Stretch Before or After Running, Walking, Fighting?. Then when you do your stretches post-workout, stare at the others as if you are superior and know something they don’t …cuz’ it’s probably true.

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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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4

What Activity Would You Take Up if You Didn’t Have to Worry About …?

Creaky Joints, Urinary Incontinence, and Chronic Pain

Walk, don't run if you have urinary incontinenceKymberly: What if you wanted to age as actively as possible, but had to curtail your activities because of …. well for a myriad of reasons. For instance, both Alexandra and I have knee arthritis that affects our workout and recreation choices. Many women over 50 have chronic pain or medical issues that curtail their ability to live life to the extent they desire. Odds are you are in that group. And urinary incontinence is another condition that may cause you to discontinue or never take up certain activities. Nothing like fear of leakage and embarrassment to affect confidence and freedom, right?

Poise-Kym-step-1

If my knees suddenly were arthritis-free, I’d play soccer again, run with my dogs, and add plyometric moves back to my step class choreography. Also, I’d be ready to train hard when Dancing With the Stars calls to have my twin sis and me be part of their next season. (Who agrees that a sibling theme would be great? Venus and Serena, the Olsen twins, the Property Brothers, us!) And if Alexandra didn’t have to worry about bladder leakage, she’d probably wear white tights. Maybe not. She likes colorful workout gear. And she’s hard to embarrass. Still, you get my point.

What Activity Have You Given Up Because of Urinary Incontinence?

Yes, my main point is to wonder: What would you take up if you did not have to worry about urinary incontinence? Would you laugh more? Pick up a new sport? Restart a workout you once loved but gave up because of bladder leakage? Have you stopped an activity because it made you pee your pants?  What if you could stop leaks before they happen? Would that make a difference in your midlife happily ever after?

Has fear of embarrassment caused you to stop or never start a workout or exercise program? Click To Tweet

Exercise, Sneeze, Laugh, Pee

Impresa by Poise

Found at Walmart for only $4.97 for the sizing kit.

Disclosure Moment: This post is sponsored by Poise Impressa’s sizing kit

Alexandra: When we were asked to collaborate with Poise Impressa to learn and share about the sizing kit, I jumped (metaphorically only, for obvious reasons) at the chance, because I teach exercise and hike a lot and do NOT like having to worry about peeing my workout capris. Curse those big-headed boys I gave birth to for saddling me with a loose saddle. Mainly I was curious as to what exactly a sizing kit is.

On the way home from a trip to Carmel, I stopped at the Walmart in Arroyo Grande to get the kit. Ta da – right there in the “incontinence” section. Are you ever tempted to buy extra stuff just to cover up the embarrassing stuff in your shopping basket, or is that just me? In the end, I kind of thought, “What the heck. The only people who will stare at me are either women my age who understand, or young people who will find out one day.” I stopped to take selfies instead.

When you laugh, jump, exercise, sneeze or jump do you pee your pants? #triedimpressa @Walmart Click To Tweet
Poise kit at Walmart

Scored a selfie and a sizing kit right by the pharmacy at Arroyo Grande Walmart.

I’ve now satisfied my curiosity. Right on the box it has a helpful chart (I almost said “flow chart.” Dang, so punny) – If you leak when you laugh, cough, sneeze, dance or exercise – Stress Urinary Incontinence – these bladder supports (’cause that’s what they are) should be right for you. If you have a sudden need to pee – Urge Urinary Incontinence – then these are NOT for you. The purpose of the kit is to help you figure out the right size before buying a whole package (which you can see costs $11.97). Essentially, it’s like a tampon. Start with size 1. If you still have drips and dabs, try size 2, then size 3 if necessary.

Look, it may be an embarrassing topic, but as someone teaching in front of hundreds of students every week, it’s less embarrassing to talk about the need for the bladder supports than it is to try and surreptitiously check my backside in the mirror every time I do a jumping jack or Burpee. Come to think of it, why the heck am I teaching Burpees? Burpees are very disrespectful, according to the lady in this hysterical video that you MUST watch.

Poise-Zann-Supine-1I think I’ll go now and teach a nice, relaxing supine core move. Be impressed. And Impressa-ed.

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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

 

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Wrong and Right Way to Do An Oblique Crunch [Video]

A week ago we posted a video showing 4 exercises that aren’t worth your time, which had a few readers asking us to please show safe exercises for the obliques (instead of a bicycle crunch crash).

Your wishes are granted, as we pulled this video from our YouTube channel that shows the wrong and right way to do an oblique crunch.

Do you perform oblique crunches the wrong or right way? Are you sure? Click To Tweet

We also include two bada-boom-bullets that explain things awfully well, along with a not-too-graphic graphic:
Internal & External Obliques

  • Your external obliques run diagonally, forming a V in front. Imagine you’re putting your hands into a vest or front coat pocket.
  • Your 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.

Now you know the official terms for “I want my waist to be fit and trim, but don’t want to copy any of those lame exercises I see people do in the gym that are destined to hurt their back or neck.”

picture of Alexandra Williams at Bacara Resort

When the paparazzi try to photograph your obliques

Did you do the oblique crunch along with us? Feel free to comment below between reps. 412, 413, 414, 415 ….

Want more abdominal exercises tailored and curated to YOU? Then check out our “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50” (over 23 videos, 10 modules, popular abs questions addressed).

ACTION: Say, have you subscribed to our posts yet? Just put your email address in and Voila!!! Not only do we come to you twice a week with fitness solutions, but also you get our bonus booklet: “5 Fitness Myths that Weaken Your Abs.”

by Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

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23

Perfect Body Season is … Never In Season

Trying to lose weight over the holidays before you see any judgy relatives,  grandkids who want to play, or the crotchety old uncle who said you’d never amount to much? Fuggetaboutid! Give yourself the ultimate gift of self-love this season and revel in the ribald revelry of winter with some gusto, acceptance, and balance. Being “thin” was not always in. Being healthy and active (with good posture) is always in style. And hotter than mulled cider!

* See our series on the subject of how to assess, then improve your posture to look more fit. You are welcome!)

Body image & a perfect physique are matters of perspective, culture, history, & whatever… Click To Tweet

Health and beauty are inside jobs! Body image and a “perfect physique” are matters of perspective, culture, history, and whatever the mass media tells us.

Can you say “Mixed Messages?” Don’t believe us? Take a brief tour through past wistful wishes for va-va-voom figures. Look at what people were willing to do to achieve that “look du decade.”

Too Skinny, Men?

Hottie or Nottie?

Don’t make us talk about you years from now! Our gift to you as we wrap up — no, not gifts. We are not that organized! — Work the look you already have. Embrace it; Look it in the eye and say “Ell-bees – you and I are going into the New Year together baby, guilt- and stress-free!

Whoa now you Vixens, Dashers, and Red Nosed sorts! Don’t go overboard — or is that “oversleigh?” We said give yourself some body-lovin’ self-acceptance while staying active, not plunk down your hiney so finey!

Done with Exercise until 2016? Hope not.

ACTION: Subscribe to get us to come to you twice a week with active aging solutions tailored to women over 50. Subscribing is self love! Simply enter your email in one of the boxes AND get your bonus free.

by Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

 

 

17

How Can I Get Better Posture?

Dear FnF – K and A: For better posture, what exercise/stretch can I do to keep my shoulders pulled back ? Thanks for the straighter scoop.  Sharon, Santa Barbara, CA

Straight Scoop on Super Posture

Kymberly: Hold on a moment. Did someone other than F and F just slip in a word play? Stand tall and proud just for that. While you’re standing, do some pec stretches and mid-back strengtheners. The stronger your back muscles are – especially the ones between your shoulder blades, such as the trapezius and rhomboids – the more those muscles will contract to lift your spine erect and to keep your shoulders back.

Yeah, you could hire someone to nag you to bring your shoulders down and back, but that’s no fun is it? Instead let’s think of fun things that FnF could stand for (as seen in your salutation).

Alexandra:What? That is a gimme. Anyone who’s seen my high school photos knows that FnF means Foxy and Fine! Hello? Did you not see those HOT photos of me that were never taken? Let’s pretend for a moment that we are answering Sharon’s question…nope, it’s passed.

But in the spirit of general pride and gaining two inches in height, I’ll give you our mom’s secret (she was a modern dance teacher)–ask someone to poke you between the shoulder blades at the dinner table. It’s a quick, yet mildly annoying, reminder to contract your mid-traps (that is fancy-talk for “pull your shoulder blades toward each other”). Or you could read our post, Look Younger and Thinner Instantly with Better Posture, which is not annoying at all.

Kymberly: Also try our zip trick to remind you that posture involves all the abs, uses the entire core, and requires activating the back side of your body as well.

Plank push up combo from Kymberly

If Only I Could Achieve Good Posture While Standing

Alexandra: I also see that Kymberly mentions chest stretches above. What she didn’t mention was that standing up taller and opening up the front of your body makes you more–caution, technical term coming–stacked! Not just appear so, but actually more frontal real estate. And you can then breathe better too. Since it’s hard to remember to pull your shoulder blades into a close, personal relationship, I’ll share a hot little workout trick I made up years ago. Do some of your exercises with your back and shoulders against the wall. For example, bicep curls or forward raises. Even though you aren’t actively focusing on “moving” your back, it will be easy for you to notice if you fall forward off the wall. Find out more about these quick and easy posture reminders at our post, Posture to Perfection.

K: In short, worry less about what you see in front– the pecs and anterior deltoids — and more about what’s happening behind your back. Just like in high school.

A: Did someone say “Off the Wall?” When the world is on your shoulders, Gotta straighten up your act and boogie down. Quick, who sings that?  If you can sing and dance this entire song with shoulders back, you win a free Moonwalk lesson!

Readers and posturemongers: What reminders do you use to maintain good posture? Who had a mom who nagged you to stand up straight?

Action Item: Subscribe to our site. Enter the word “posture” in our search box at the top of our page. Find our series on posture that includes some videos. You will not only get current active aging advice twice a week, but also lots of great ways to assess and improve your posture. Yup, stand tall and subscribe!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

5

Oblique Ab Crunches: How to Do Them Properly

Tape measure on abs

One of our most popular post categories is Abs, especially workouts that show how to do them with good form. You want to avoid pain (and sweat), plus you want to get the most bang for your exercise buck (these posts are free), and the least waist for your workout. We are here to help you with the “muffin top / love handles” dilemma.

But first, take a look at our recently released program, “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50,”  (over 23 videos, 10 modules, popular abs questions addressed).

Our quick video tutorial gives you helpful specifics on how to perform oblique (side) abdominal crunches correctly. And as a bonus, we also show how NOT to do them.

Good news – you don’t have to learn technical terms. But just in case you’re wondering why we say “obliques” instead of “waist” or “that area that encircles your spine that used to be oh-so-tiny way back in high school,” we’ve got some quick Ed-U-Cay-Shun-al info about the technical terms.

Internal & External ObliquesYour external obliques run diagonally, forming a V in front. Imagine you’re putting your hands into a vest or front coat pocket. Feel those rock hard muscles? Yeah, me neither. But I do know that my obliques are there somewhere.

Your 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.
Diagonal Reverse Abs
For those of you who like the nitty-gritty, oblique-y details, here’s an excellent definition by our colleague Dr. Len Kravitz, who teaches at the University of New Mexico and is way smart!

Now you know the official terms for “I want my waist to be fit and trim, but don’t want to copy any of those lame exercises I see people do in the gym that are destined to hurt their back or neck.” More importantly, you can now confidently add oblique crunches to your exercise routine. Score!!

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Photo credits: CreativeCommons. org

by Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

4

Time to Exercise Some Tough Love: Guest Post from Debbie Woodruff

Debbie Woodruff in Team Eleven topOur 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.

Is it tough love time?

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.”Debbie Woodruff ready to run Debbie Woodruff ready to run

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…

Suck it Up, Buttercup

head shot DebbieWhoever 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.Debbie W does prank Push

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!

11

Too Tired To Start Exercising?

Hi Alexandra and Kymberly: I am frequently exhausted and ache. I don’t know where to start to build in a sane way. Weights, (brief) high intensity intervals, gentle cardiovascular like walking? Just getting through a work day wears me out and I usually need to nap after exercise. Anne from Olympia, WA

Dear Anne: We can say you are sane enough already to ask a great and common question. Actually you managed a three-in-one special deal as you actually have three separate issues:

  1. Why might you be too tired to exercise in the first place?
  2. Why is exercise making you more fatigued?
  3. What entry point exercises are good to build from?

And because we like package bonus deals, you get a four part answer to make you happy and zippy!

First, Consider What is Exhausting You

Problem: Are you dehydrated? Solution: Drink more water

Being underwatered will suck you dry! Even slight dehydration—as little as 2% of normal fluid loss—will reduce your energy levels. Dehydration reduces blood volume, thickening your blood. Then your heart pumps less efficiently, reducing the speed at which oxygen and nutrients reach your muscles and organs, thereby draining your energy.

Problem: Are you anemic? Solution: Get your blood tested

Anemia would cause your stated symptoms. Find out if you’re getting enough iron or losing more than you’re replacing.

Problem: Are you choosing energy-sapping foods? Solution: Check your eating habitsAlexandra drinking wine

Alexandra drinking wine

Wine, dine, and nap

Too much sugar? Not eating regular meals or skipping breakfast? Drinking wine late at night or starting the day with simple carbs? Powering through your day by relying on caffeine? Any of these habits will result in overall fatigue.

Next, Motivate Yourself Past Pre-Exercise Fatigue

Your work day is done and so are you! We totally get how tempting a nap sounds after a long, perhaps stressful work day. And maybe what you need is simply to sleep more or to revel in naps, guilt free. Most North American adults undersleep. But you asked about moving, and we are all about activity.

In fact, we bet you already know the counterintuitive reality that exercise increases energy. Studies indicate that as little as three bouts of cardio activity a week for 20 minutes per session boosts energy in as few as six weeks. Once you get past those first few weeks of starting to move more, you will enter that energizer bunny zone where exercise pumps you up rather than drags you down.

Sign to Happy Room

Which activity puts you into your Happy Room?

To get yourself doing something, the key is to commit to anything, not everything. What is the least you can do given your current exhaustion and ache levels? Determine what is achievable and head for the minimum. We really mean it. Take the mental pressure off yourself and head for the LEAST, not MOST you are willing to start with.

Rather than plunging into high intensity interval training or facing overload weight training, find something you enjoy and that comes easily to you. A resistance training fitness class where you are encouraged to go at your pace. A walk, brisk stroll, or march in place. A yoga, Pilates, stretch, or other mind/body class that combines movement with visualization, relaxation, or quiet time at the end. What about lunges during tv commercials or a few ab exercises before dinner? Just 5 minutes on an indoor bicycle?  Steps at home you can go up and down a few times. Water time if you have access to a pool or natural body of water- swimming, pool class, water jogging.

If you still find yourself needing a push to take the fork in the road towards activity, not lethargy, get a dog that likes walks. We might say “later” and “no” to ourselves, but who can deny a pet pooch whose daily walk is the day’s highlight? Wag wag, perky ears and out you go!Dog walk at More Mesa

Third, Reduce Being Worn Out Post Work Out

If exercise is wearing you out, most likely you need to drop the intensity of your workout. Another possibility is you are choosing stressful moves. Stress will wear you out even if the activity is low intensity.

  • Have you chosen activities you don’t enjoy?
  • Are you setting overly high expectations and demands on yourself?
  • Are you a perfectionist?

And of course, we have to interject that your post-exercise nap might be the best thing for you. But if you feel movement is wearing you down, then reduce the intensity or duration. You are either going too hard or too long at this phase of your re-entry program.

Which Bring Us to — Choose Moderate Moves

Try our Whole Body, No Equipment Needed, Easy as 3-2-1 Routine

K planking in ThailandBefore this post gets too long and tiresome (aha hah ha) let’s go with a simple, straightforward, “gee, we really don’t know your goals, limitations, time available” starting point program. If nothing else, do the following three moves that will address all major muscles of your body. Easy to perform; multi-joint so you get a lot of bang for your buck; and needing no equipment.

  1. Lunges or squats for the lower body
  2. Push ups on the wall, counter, knees, or toes for the upper body
  3. K planking in ThailandPlanks or reverse curls for the core

When you’re done, walk for 5 minutes.

You will feel so energized you’ll want more. Find that “more” in these posts that also answer your questions:

Tips to Get Your Butt to the Gym

I Want to Get Fit, but How Do I Start?

And of course, we have to mention our recent TransformAging Summit webinar session, “(Re)Starting Fitness Over 50,” which is sponsored by Rancho la Puerta Wellness Resort, a perfect place to ease into exercise. ,  For sale along with the other 5 presentations. Slides included. $34Sales image for TransformAging

5

Tips to Get Your Butt to the Gym

Boom- Get it Done (Alexandra)

Boom! Get ‘er Done!

Dear Fun and Fit/ Kymberly and Alexandra: I am a member at the local YMCA, (but) have yet to establish a regular time to go. Time gets away from me. (I) would appreciate tips on establishing a routine. Thx, Vickie

You go to bed promising yourself that Tomorrow, yes Tomorrow, you will start that exercise program you’ve been putting off. You wake up in the morning with good intentions. Yes, the day looms ahead with lots of opportunities to work in a workout. Then that day gets busier and busier as it progresses, though you reassure yourself that you still have time. Habits and routines take over — routines that don’t include getting to your club. You mean to exercise, but when evening rolls around, you are too tired/ busy/ overloaded to move. Where did the day go? Forget hitting the mat, gym, or trails. What takes a hit instead is your psyche as negative self-talk wheedles its way into your thoughts. But you halt the self-recrimination by making a promise to yourself: Tomorrow, yes Tomorrow, you will start that exercise routine. Rinse and repeat.

We hear you, Vickie and obey! Below are specific, practical tips for establishing a routine that improves your odds to create and sustain regular exercise. These tips are guaranteed to work. And by that we mean, guaranteed only if you actually act on them. No Do, No Presto Change-o. In other words, our tips work if you do.

1. Start Small (and this is a biggie!)Small Steps Lead to Big Changes

Set yourself up for success by taking small steps. If heading to the gym for an hour is daunting, set your mind to popping in for just 10 or 15 minutes. Give yourself permission to attend a 30, not 60 minute class. Or grab a mat and do just 5 exercises and head back out the door – exercise done for day one.  Allow yourself to get on cardio equipment for just 10 minutes, or until you sweat, or for just two rounds of commercials as you watch the built-in tv. The point is to aim for a 2 or 3 on the commitment scale, instead of a 9 or 10. If you hit that 2 or anything higher, you have notched a positive result. If you think you have to go full out or forget it, then anything less than a 9 or 10 equates mentally with failure. Who likes that? Not I, said the little red hen. The famous Fun and Fit advice? What is the LEAST you are willing to do at your YMCA? Aim low and get ‘er done. (Click this link THEN COME BACK TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST for more about how and why to establish the least possible: How to Start an Exercise Program? Do the Least Possible)

2. Schedule Your Workouts

Not creative; not new; not patented, copyrighted, nor trademarked by us. But effective. Whatever calendar system you use — online, an app, paper and pen, a wall calendar you got free from that new business down the street — schedule gym time. In ink. With a nice check-off box next to it. It’s a visual promise to yourself you are less likely to break.  Oh, and don’t go all crazy and overschedule yourself. See Tip One.

3. Post Reminders

Whatever system annoys, reminds, or motivates you best, employ it. Set notifications on your smart phone. Post sticky notes on the wheel of your car. Leave reminders where you’ll see or hear them. Have a family member call you. Nag, nag, nag.

4. Set Out Your Workout Clothes

Get your gear into gear. If your gym bag is packed and set where you have to trip over it to get out the door, you are more likely to make it to the club. Or keep an outfit in the car. Perhaps lay out your workout clothes so you are ready to put them on first thing in the morning. Personally I find a new outfit really motivating. Nothing like wanting to break in a new top to get me to group fitness class!

5. Tell a Friend

We break promises to ourselves all the time. Those are usually called New Year’s Resolutions. All year. But will you break a promise to a friend? Even if your friend is not going to meet you at the club, she has now heard your promise and can help hold you accountable. Call, email, text – whatever it takes, commit to another person.

6. Reward Yourself

Positive reinforcement is a powerful force all right, so harness that. Made it to the gym for half a class? Buy yourself that new pair of leggings. Worked out three days in a week? Bust out the bottle of bubbly you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Whatever makes you happy, use that as a reward. Acknowledge your successes. For example, if you enjoy reading blogs in the morning, tell yourself that you will read just one (ours!) before exercising, but will relish and revel in reading 3 more as soon as you get back from the Y.

7what exercisers know image. Learn How Your Mind Works to Form Good Habits

Read our other posts on the subject to clarify the values, motives, and internal rewards that drive you to exercise.

What Do Exercisers Know that Non-Exercisers Don’t

Replace Health Cares with Healthy Habits

4 Stages to Healthier Habits

Nothing like a Master’s Degree in Counseling for Alexandra to share great suggestions on forming good habits! Establishing a successful routine is under your control when you are armed with good info. And these links will take you to good info. The tips above will take you to the gym! More literally, you and your car will take you there.  Vroom, vroom. Off you go!

TransformAging webinarPS Since we’re talking about setting your calendar, mark yours now for June 3-4. Attend our free webinar series, TransformAging. To get details and transform to a more active you, subscribe now if you are not a current subscriber.

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

 

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Do (Sexy) Exercise Clothes Motivate Your Workout?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams. MA

She's too sexy for her shirt. Seriously, where's her workout top?

She’s too sexy for her shirt. Seriously, where’s her workout top?

Are your exercise habits influenced by your workout wear? For instance, if you don sexy gym gear do you work out longer and harder? Or are you a midlife woman for whom the words “sexy” and “workout wear” belong in different sentences, as you prefer something “sensible and supportive?”

Alexandra: I believe hottie workout clothes can motivate you, especially if they are on someone else! Personally, whenever I wear sexy workout clothes, I only find that people ask me, “Whose clothes did you borrow?” Actually, if I wore hottie hot pants, I might work out with a bit more effort as a means to get my parts tucked back up. Mostly my extra bakery bits (muffins, bread basket, biscuits) fall out of racy clothes and therefore kill any description that starts with “sexy.” And how about those “lift and separate” sport tops that provide cleavage where tumbleweeds formerly blew? I’m not sure how sexy I look giving myself a black eye with every bounce! Although (true story) I have found that extra cleavage to be a good place to stash the microphone when no mic belt is available.

menopause abs

She’s Got the Look, Got the Look, the Look of … What song boomers?

Kymberly: Being active is all about taking care of yourself and feeling good about your body. If wearing certain clothes helps motivate you, then wear them by all means. The idea behind tight fitting workout wear is that you want to be able to check your form and alignment during exercise. Or maybe it is so others can check out your form. Hmmm something to ponder. My take on this: wear what makes you happy and motivated to exercise. And comfy.  And not too smelly. That hides your belly. (I might have added that last part for anyone suffering from menopot, not naming any names – Oh, myself!)

I'm too sexy for my clothes! So you just see my feet.

I’m too sexy for my clothes! So you just see my feet.

Alexandra: When I was in graduate school, we learned that the answer to almost every question is “It depends.” It depends on how you define “sexy.” Do you mean curve-hugging in an alluring way or do you mean something overly tight that makes you look like you’ve got piglets fighting under blankets? Do people look, er, well, askance at you? Do you spend more time tucking yourself back in than you do actually exercising? It depends on your goal. Are you wearing the clothes to motivate yourself or draw attention? If it’s to motivate yourself, you should wear exactly what you want (that follows local laws). It it’s to draw attention, then what kind? Admiring? Horror-stricken? “I couldn’t help noticing you noticing me” attention?

Ultimately I only wear sexy exercise clothes when working out as an excuse to stalk some poor unsuspecting (yet good-looking) soul. In which case, paisley is involved.

Kymberly: Our best advice? Wear what you can move in comfortably, effectively and without embarrassing yourself.  If that criteria is still too much of a challenge, go with our bottom line, minimum standards advice: “Aw heck, this is clean and sorta fits.”

Befpre I put on these pants, I couldn't do the splits... in public.

Before I put on these pants, I couldn’t do the splits… in public.

Travel and fashion note: I, Kymberly am headed to Nepal next week with my mom and daughter.  Thanks to Lorna Jane Activewear and Ahnu shoes, we will be outfitted in great style and comfort. Be ready for lots of pictures of our adventures and the gear that gets us where we want to go looking good and moving well. This post was not sponsored, so we have nothing to disclothes. (ahah aha ah Get it?) 

 

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